ChicMe WW

Sydney mum's battle with rare disease: 'At the moment anger isn't going to serve me'

By Jo Abi|

It took almost all of 2021 to find the source of Odile? Faludi's "excruciating" pain, a year of doctors appointments and physiotherapy and tests and suffering.

The pain started off with an ache in her buttocks, so intense she had trouble walking, sitting and standing.

"I went to physio and they started to treat me but it was getting worse," Faludi, from Sydney, tells 9Honey. "Eventually they said they wanted me to get a CT scan, an x-ray, ultrasound, an MRI, a blood test, everything."

?By then the pain had spread to the front of her pelvis.

READ MORE: Sarah Jessica Parker reportedly departs gala dinner following 'sudden devastating family situation'

care cancer sydney mum
Faludi with her husband Peter pictured during a recent trip. (Supplied)

"Everything came back clear except the ultrasound which showed two small inguinal hernias presenting on either side of my groin," she explains. ?

Faludi had undergone a colonoscopy in 2019 and was told she wouldn't need another one until 2024. That colonoscopy had also come up clear. Not even a polyp was found.

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth 'encouraged' Meghan Markle to heal relationship with estranged father, book claims

"I saw a gastrointestinal surgeon and explained what the pain felt like? and he said it must be "gynaecological," she explains.

care cancer sydney mum
The couple has been together for 37 years and married for 35. (Supplied)

"The gynaecologist said, 'You've got a prolapsed uterus.' A few weeks later the pain in her bottom and front of was still getting worse. Pooing was an all-day event it was so difficult."

She asked for another colonoscopy but was told one wasn't needed for another four years.?

"Everything came back clear except the ultrasound."?

"No-one would give me a colonoscopy," she says. "Then I got blood in my stool and I rang them up and was immediately booked in for one. That's when they found a four centimetre tumour in my rectum."

On December 4, 2021 Faludi was diagnosed with Stage III Rectal Cancer. This wasn't any normal cancer. Faludi was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer which usually presents on the outside layers of the skin.

This cancer occurs in fewer than six people out of every 100,000 people each year.

care cancer sydney mum
'That's when they found a four centimetre tumour in my rectum.' (Supplied)

"The tumour should have been on that MRI," she says. "I had that MRI in April 2021 and even if the tumour was two centimetres, we should have been able to see it. I had three oncologists confirm that the tumour would have been there for certain as I was feeling the extreme pain at that time.

"But on the MRI it was totally blank," she explains. "What does that mean? We get all excited when test results are clear, we think it's great and throw a party, but in actual fact there may be a problem with the test. Faludi says, "I wonder if we need to retest the same test somewhere else to be sure."

care cancer sydney mum
Her treatment began in mid-January 2022. (Supplied)

Faludi began intensive treatment in ?January 2022 and at first it proved successful.

"I had 30 radiotherapy sessions and two rounds of chemotherapy and they absolutely annihilated the tumour," she recalls. "The radiotherapy treatment was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. My internal linings of my bottom, vagina, rectum and bowel were burnt. My entire bottom was pitch black and the constant burning sensation was almost too much to tolerate at times.

"Towards the end of the radiotherapy treatment I was placed on morphine. Nothing else helped the pain. It was the hardest few months of my entire life."

Faludi completed her treatment in March. The pain she had been living with for a year was gone.

Just eight weeks later, she was in pain again.

"Once again I couldn't walk, there was terrible pain in my ribs, I had three doctors tell me in writing it is unlikely to be cancer, it must be inflammation," Faludi says. "There was terrible pain around my liver.

"They ran more tests and found the same cancer was back and it had spread to the front of my peritoneum," she says. "Now I am undergoing 18 weeks of chemotherapy."

care cancer sydney mum
Eight weeks after finishing treatment the cancer had returned. (Supplied)

Faludi has learned to let go of any anger and frustration she has felt in the lead up to being diagnosed.

?"I can spend all my time being angry and ringing doctors and telling them they got it wrong or I can just focus on getting better," she says. "At the moment anger isn't going to serve me. You have to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back, anger, bitterness, frustration, because it's not going to get me out of this sh-t. I have to focus on getting better.

"Richard and his partner, Federica are planning to get married in Italy in July 2024," she shares. "I'm going to do everything in my power to be at that wedding.?"

care cancer sydney mum
'I have to focus on getting through this treatment.' (Supplied)

She has the unwavering support of her loving husband of 35 years ?Peter, 64, and children Richard 31, Dominique Elissa 27, and she has hardly missed a day of work as a sales coach for a global skincare company.

Faludi is also focused on making a real difference for rare cancer sufferers by raising funds for a dedicated researcher to work on treatments through the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) based in Melbourne.

Her goal is to raise $100,000.

"The cost of one clinical trial is $3,000 per person, it isn't cheap and the real need for money is at genetic testing level," she explains. "It is now being estimated that one in four cancers are rare so rare cancers are not that rare.ˇ±

For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here

Auto news: Tesla lays off 10 per cent of its workforce.