When Paige Bowshire was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just eight years of age, she knew she was in for the fight of her life.
“When they confirmed it was cancer, just that word, even though I was young I knew it was a bad thing,” she said.
“It was really scary until mum and dad could explain ‘Okay this is what is going to happen to help you get better’.”
Despite initially being cured after going through intravenous chemotherapy, Paige relapsed and required a bone marrow transplant.
Paige’s father Craig became her bone marrow donor, and after 11 months, she was free of cancer.
Paige reminisced on the “amazing” feeling of being cancer free.
“Being able to finally go back to school and be around all my friends and do all the normal things was a big relief. I just felt like a normal kid again and it was excellent,” she said.
“The biggest relief is that I wasn’t sick anymore and didn’t have to be in the hospital.”
But at the age of 16, life threw Paige another curve ball when she was diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease – a rare genetic condition in which the body takes in too much copper.
Following the diagnosis, Paige was required to have a liver transplant.
Now 24 years old, Paige has received confirmation from her doctors that everything is going well.
Paige said the support she received from her family fuelled her successful battles against both cancer and Wilson’s Disease.
She described the relationship she had with her grandfather Stewart, who was going through a cancer battle of his own, as “absolutely vital”.
“Even through my second illness, my grandmother and grandfather were there just as much as my parents were,” Paige said.
“It was just amazing to have his support, and even though I was young, I always said to him ‘We can do this together’.
“I would be lost without all of my family’s support and I absolutely treasure what I’ve been able to have with them.”
Paige received the Relay For Life Australia International Heroes of Hope award in 2017, given to ‘extraordinary cancer survivors who represent courageous voices of hope in our communities’.
Using her story to inspire those impacted by cancer, Paige has become a Port Augusta Relay For Life committee member.
“Relay is a fantastic celebration for me and everyone who has been impacted by cancer,” she said.
“It’s a chance for us to remember those who have lost their lives, celebrate the fact that we’re still here and do something to raise funds and make a difference.
“My life has been enriched because I have met some amazing people through Relay who share the same passion as myself to fight for a cure.”
Relay For Life is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 13 October at Chinnery Park, raising funds for Cancer Council SA.