Paula and Geoff's story

Paula and Geoff's story At first they thought it was eczema. Then it was dermatitis, then psoriasis. Finally, three years later Geoff found out what it was.

He had Sézary Syndrome, a rare type of blood cancer and sadly, his prognosis wasn’t a good one.

At first they thought it was eczema. Then it was dermatitis, then psoriasis. Finally, three years later Geoff found out what it was.

He had Sézary Syndrome , a rare type of blood cancer in which lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) become malignant and affect the skin. His prognosis wasn’t a positive one.

“The oncologist said to him, ‘you’ll die in three to four years’,” shares wife Paula. “It was very confronting for both of us.”

It was then that their life turned into a series of hospital visits, appointments and treatments.

“We ended up having to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne over two years to get treatment at Peter MacCallum. Geoff needed something called photopheresis, and Melbourne was the only place that had it available in Australia. The whole process was stressful and difficult, so eventually we decided to move closer to Peter Mac.”

And for a while, things started to look good. “Geoff seemed to be responding to the treatment. He quite enjoyed the first few months when we moved – he was even able to do things around the house like the shelves.”

Then in August 2015, Geoff found a lesion on his shoulder. The family was committed to try everything; radiotherapy, chemotherapy. Nothing seemed to help and sadly, Geoff passed away less than a year later.

Now Paula is committed to doing what her husband always wanted to do – shine a light on less common cancers like his.

“If he could have spoken to you himself, he would have. He wanted awareness and attention on rarer cancers. He had one and at times, we’d both question the treatment. You’d think to yourself ‘there are only 15 others in Australia with this, how does anyone know if this is going to work? There’s no research that’s being done’.”

That’s why both Paula and Geoffrey were over the moon when they heard about the Forgotten Cancers Project.

“It’s important that these cancers that might not be so popular have more resources to treat them and deal with them,” she shares. “We need to find the causes of this so more people have a chance and a better quality of life.”