When Audrey Albinger received her cancer diagnosis her first instinct was not to scream, cry or fret about it – it was to write about it.
The 73-year-old mother-of-four noticed shortness of breath, a change in her singing voice and lack of ability to walk and talk at the same time.
She put a pain in her side down to a rib being out of place or a pulled muscle.
But when her symptoms worsened she sought medical assistance and after visits to her general practitioner and physiotherapist, X-rays and a CT scan it was revealed her left lung had collapsed.
Mrs Albinger had surgery to remove one-and-a-half litres of fluid from around her lung and the surgery confirmed a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
“It came as a big surprise,” she said.
“I had no inkling that anything was wrong until three weeks before my diganosis.”
Mrs Albinger grew up in Iowa in the United States and believes she was exposed to asbestos but since the incubation period is 20 to 40 years, it seems unlikely she had it before she moved to Australia 42 years ago.
“It’s not likely it came from the farm,” she said.
She has been given a lifespan of one to two years but said she still has a lot of living to do and is starting by learning Arabic and the electric bass guitar.
“I’m 73, I’ve had a good life," she said.
“And I’m just going to continue on and live it.
“I’m no different then I was a year ago, I just happen to know I might have a timeline shorter than yours.”
Mrs Albinger is currently undergoing chemotherapy and started a blog five weeks after she received her diagnosis in April.
She updates it every fortnight or week with her posts about her progress, her life and her family.
Mrs Albinger describes the blog as a form of therapy and said she has never felt the need to hide her condition.
“A lot of people asked me if I was shocked but not really,” she said.
“I had time to think about it and I think I was kind of prepared.
“But my children’s reaction was totally different to mine.”
The blog is called Laughter Bubbles.
Mrs Albinger said laughter is the best medicine and during her two major struggles with depression she said it felt like bubbles of positive energy were rising when she was recovering.
She is trying to spread a positive message and said that if she can help just one person it would be worth it.
“I’ve had a massive amount of support, especially from family and friends,” she said.
You can read Mrs Albinger’s blog at laughterbubbles.com.
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