By Pauline Stewart.
Jedda Burns has a very good friend who has brought this story of her plight with cancer to the attention of The Informer. That friend is Katie Harkin.
“Jedda and I are very good friends. We met ten years ago. My husband and Jedda’s partner, Jack Meyer are good mates. We are neighbours and we have even put a gate in through the fence. We are literally a jump over the fence away, here in Whitianga, says Katie.
The last year has been a very tumultuous ride for the Meyers/Burns family.
“When you are told you have got only six months to a year to live,” says Jedda, “You go into shock. You say, ‘No way’, dying happens in very old age. It doesn’t happen to me and my family.”
Jedda was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, stage IV (bowel cancer) when Bohdi was ten weeks old. It had metastasized. She had been trying to get a colonoscopy done for the last ten years. The medical system had dismissed her symptoms as being related to haemorrhoids.
Now ten-week-old Bohdi has just had his first birthday. Older brother Louis is four. Jedda is still alive.
In its stage four, the cancer has run rampant in her liver. Initially, she was told that they could not operate. That ‘six months to a year to live’ diagnosis seemed so very cruel and imminent.
However, what Jedda needed was access to the unfunded drug, ‘Cetuximab’ which has the capacity to give her a chance to spend more time with her partner, Jack, and her boys, Louie and Bohdi, and help continue her ongoing battle to extend her life. Sadly, this drug comes at a cost of $7,000 a treatment and, in Jedda’s case, is administered every fortnight.
Jedda has had three or four rounds of this chemotherapy drug on her body thus far. Remarkably, this treatment has shrunk the tumours on her liver. Because of this, the hospital has been able to do two surgeries out of the necessary three on her liver, the first to remove some of the tumours and the second, to slow down the blood supply to her liver. The third surgery is planned to remove the entire side of her liver where most of the tumours are. This is a life changer, literally. The doctors did not think Jedda would manage the surgeries as it was life threatening and so hard on her body, but she has got this far. It’s a miracle and testament to her strength.
“Once these tumours are removed with this vital operation, Jedda’s liver will be cancer free,” smiles Katie. “The next step is to tackle the bowel cancer and they will start radiation for this when Jedda has recovered from the latest surgery. When Jedda was receiving the unfunded drug, the side effects weren’t great. Her skin became very sensitive and gave her a lot of pain, but she pressed on. She still still looks beautiful, and her attitude is so positive. Somehow, she is still outgoing and reaches out to all of us. She has two beautiful babies and such a great husband in Jack.
Jack is now a full-time Dad. They need to travel to Auckland fortnightly and sometimes more and for longer for treatment which can be very tiring and stressful. Jedda’s parents live in Waihi and travel up to Auckland to support the family during the treatment and it is so good that Jack’s parents’ house in Auckland is available for Jedda and Jack to stay during the week of chemo treatment.
“Jedda is a fighter and man has she proven that,” says Katie. “She has taught myself and many others that staying positive can change your world, literally.
Not only is she an incredible Mother to her two boys, she is a great partner to her man Jack, amazing friend, daughter, sister, Aunty … the list goes on. Jeds is a very hard worker, loves her gardening and being amongst nature with her family. She really is such a beautiful person inside and out.
Life can be cruel and unfair at times and I really can’t wrap my head around why it happens to the best people.
‘She’ll be right’ is one of her favourite sayings. It always makes me laugh. Just shows me that whatever happens, Jedda can always see the bright side of any dark situation and to never take life too seriously.”
A few words from Jedda “Recently, with the help of a couple of special friends we put together an event to help with not only raising money but also raise more awareness around this terrible disease and also your own health and wellbeing. The Month of June is bowel cancer awareness. If you would like the challenge – there are lots of Move Your Butt 2023 Fundraisers! So many young people are getting diagnosed with bowel cancer, if you have any symptoms go and get checked! Don’t risk it, it’s totally not worth it 💚 if anyone does so happen to get it or have any questions about symptoms please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m always here to talk and pass on my story and the tools I’ve used to help me get through to where I am today 💚”
The best way to help the family is if you can make a donation to help them with living costs.
A Give A Little page has been set up. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/jeddas-unfunded-fight-for-life.
Caption: Jedda with partner Jack, Louie and baby Bohdi.