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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 October 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER 2018 9 NEWS A plead for help for a 40-year-old mother of three, suffering from stage 4 cancer EUGENIA PAVLOPOULOU Two months ago, Grigoria Andonopoulou, her husband Dimitrios and their three children were going about their day to day lives, with the concerns, challenges and aspirations common to all newly arrived migrants who try to survive and build their life in Australia. Grigoria was living in Melbourne, working as a cleaner, taking care of her children and alongside her husband were trying to ensure their incomes could provide for their family. For this couple, the decision to come here, wasn't one of choice per se. It was more of a necessity. "We had nothing left in Greece. No assets whatsoever. We were poor people. We didn't have property or other assets; living from paycheck to paycheck. So when my husband lost his job, we lost everything. The hope for a better future for our children went down the drain. A relative, who had come to Australia before us, gave us some positive feedback about the prospects in this country. That basically triggered our decision to come. At least there was a glimpse of hope for a better future here," she says, describing her life in crisisstricken Greece and the reasons behind their decision to leave the motherland. This conversation is taking place in the gloomy privacy of an Austin Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre room. Grimaces on her face attest excruciating pain, the tremble of her body is constant. I ask her if she feels cold. "No, I don't. The tumors on my spine. They hurt," she answers. The harrowing reality she faces today was unimaginable two weeks ago. "I had some back pain and fatigue. I didn't think too much of it. Overworked, I thought". Grigoria wasn't overworked, though. She was and is a very sick woman. She has stage 4 cancer, one tumour in one of her breasts, three on her spine and something sinister has already started to develop in her liver. And as if things cannot be any worse for her, they indeed are. Grigoria with her husband Dimitrios by her side. Like we all know well and many new migrants with limited access to services, even better, if you can't afford the basics something else has to give. People living under these circumstances hope that with hard work and a bit of luck they will manage eventually to catch up. Difficulties do not allow them to think about tomorrow. It is the daily battle that commands their immediate attention and energy. Grigoria' s migrant status doesn't grant her access to Medicare. She should have been covered by private health insurance but she is not. She had private health insurance but the policy lapsed. "I know it's our mistake. We stopped paying it. We couldn't afford it," her husband, Dimitrios says. "Poverty is not a shame," I reply. "It is not," he answers, uncertain whether he should agree or disagree. "It was wrong and we are now paying for it." And if Grigoria wants a second chance in life, she has to pay dearly. The treatment will cost her about $100,000. A friend of the family who was by her side when the doctors announced her horrid condition took the initiative to start a fundraiser. Today we encourage you to offer her some help. In the face of the generosity and humanity our community has shown whenever it was called upon to help, this considerable amount is nothing more than a needle in a haystack. Grigoria appeals to this humanity of ours. So far, $4,400 has been offered for her treatment. Each one of us has the choice to ignore this family's plight. Grigoria though has no choice unless we listen to her plight and respond. Those wishing to donate can do so at the following bank account: Name: Grigoria Andonopoulou & Dimitrios Andonopoulos Bank: Bank of Sydney BSB: 942302 Acc. Num: 1152164 If you prefer to offer your donation online, visit: https:// www.gofundme.com/grigoria-antonopoulou Greek Australian boy battling rare type of cancer Four-year-old Jaxon Kaplatzis is the first Australian ever to face this type of leukaemia THEODORA MAIOS Adelaide four-year-old Jaxon Kaplatzis is believed to be the only person in Australia ever diagnosed with a rare type of leukaemia and despite his young age, he is battling his cancer head on. "He is my little hero, my inspiration and I am in awe of how strong and resilient my little boy is at such a young age," says Jaxon's mother, Victoria. Jaxon was born perfectly healthy October 2013 and it wasn't until just before his fourth birthday that he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. "It all began one night after I had finished work," Victoria remembers. "As I was giving my two boys a shower I noticed Jaxon had a lump in his groin area. We rang the locum who came out and after examining him he thought it was a case of an inverted testicle, but we were not con- vinced." Victoria and her husband Dimitri took their little boy to the Women's and Children's Hospital the very next day. After undergoing a number of tests, scans and ultrasounds he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. "I will never forget that day. Our whole world turned upside down within a few hours. Hearing the doctor tell us about the diagnosis, I remember I couldn't breathe, it felt like I was having a panic attack. It was just horrible. I still feel like that today, but when I look at my little boy and see how focused he is on getting better, it gives me so much hope and courage to keep going. "Children with cancer are so remarkable. Jaxon is an amazing little boy and I look up to him now more than anyone," says Victoria. Since the diagnosis the little boy has been on 11 months of intensive chemotherapy and is now on a maintenance phase of treatment, set to run for the next three years to treat his condition. "I feel like I have so many more questions to ask but nobody really knows what causes cancer in children. One thing we do know is that Jaxon is on the higher risk protocol that treats cancer which is the biggest treatment plan before stem cells." Last Friday night, the family of four took part in the Leukaemia Foundation's annual fundraiser event and were among thousands who marched in Adelaide's "Light the Night" lantern walk at the Botanic Gardens to raise awareness and funds for blood cancer. White lanterns were carried by people who have been diagnosed themselves, gold in memory of someone who has died and blue in support for those who have the disease. "It's a very moving event to bring all these individuals together. Sometimes people going through blood cancer feel like they are very alone and isolated. Events like these bring people together and realise that they are not alone and are not the only ones going through this," said Peter Diamond, Head of Research and State Representative for South Australia at Leukaemia Foundation. However, cancer will probably be the last thing on Jaxon's mind today as he celebrates his fifth birthday. "We have been organising his birthday celebrations for a few weeks and all Jaxon wishes for is to feel well enough to be able enjoy his day at the park with his friends and family. "As far as myself and my husband, we are just grateful that our little boy is here to celebrate his special day with us," concludes Victoria.
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