Kristy Morton has been through more than any person should have to, yet remains relentlessly positive.
The Perth mother of three girls survived stage four breast cancer only to be diagnosed with five brain tumours.
Before her first cancer diagnosis in 2019, she’d been a health-conscious 37-year-old.
But, in an instant everything shifted.
She spoke to 7NEWS.com.au about her health battle and the power remaining positive even in your darkest moments.
“I felt like I was in great health (and was/am very health conscious), and never considered getting seriously ill as something likely to happen to me,” she said.
“I guess you could say I was a very ‘busy’ person, managing running two businesses around life with three young kids!
“My family is everything to me, it’s one of my biggest values.”
Kristy’s daughters are now just four, six and eight years old.
One day she was getting dressed and noticed her left breast was “quite full”.
Upon feeling it, she found a large lump.
She said she never thought it would be cancer and was actually quite blase about it.
It was during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and her husband Glenn insisted that she went to the doctor.
“My doctor referred me ASAP for a mammogram and ultrasound, followed the next day by a biopsy (which turned into two biopsies as the performing doctor was suspicious of what she saw),” she said.
“On my way home my doctor called and asked me to come in and see her at 7pm with my husband.
“I balled the rest of the way home. It was then I knew what was coming.
“It was Halloween that evening, so not to let the kids down we still managed a quick trick or treat with our girls, then our trip to my lovely doctor confirmed it was breast cancer.”
A later bone and CT scan alongside an MRI confirmed the diagnosis and quite devastatingly – that it had spread.
Kristy was officially diagnosed with stage three breast cancer with “suspicious” nodules in her liver which would be investigated.
“About a week after that, I had a left breast mastectomy (as the tumour was too large to only do a lumpectomy) and axillary clearance,” the mum said.
“Whilst I was recovering from this I met with my oncologist and did some further testing, which confirmed the cancer had actually spread to my sternum, chest wall, left lymph nodes, anterior mediastinal and about eight locations in my liver.
“This meant my diagnosis was upgraded to stage four metastatic breast cancer, which in medical terms, is incurable.”
She explained this made her want to fight it – determined to exhaust every opportunity to prolong her life.
The mum closed her business to focus on herself, and her husband and family threw themselves into researching cancer and treatment methods.
A holistic approach
In addition to medical treatment, she also took a holistic approach.
“We – with the help of my oncology naturopath, integrative GP and nutritionist – came up with a holistic treatment protocol which I threw myself into,” she said.
“This included traditional treatment such as chemo but supporting my body and immune system through holistic therapies such as Vitamin Infusions, supplements, infra-red sauna, CBD oil, special teas, a keto diet, juicing, intermittent fasting, drinking deuterium depleted water, meditating, working on my emotional health and a whole host of other things.”
The mum explains she has “a very long checklist” which she “ticks off every day”.
“I essentially totally changed my life around to be focused on my health and wellbeing,” she said.
In February, she found out all of the cancer had cleared except for a few legions in her liver.
She continued with chemo and holistic therapies until she was declared in complete remission in May.
The family was ecstatic and so grateful for the outcome – but sadly the fight was not over.
“Due to my original diagnosis, surveillance scans are a regular occurrence to check the cancer doesn’t return,” she said.
“As it was nearly six months after being declared in remission, I had a follow-up PET scan and brain MRI to check what was happening.
“The brain MRI showed four to five small, clearly defined tumours which would require stereotactic (targeted) radiation.”
In the next six weeks, the tumours grew into five substantially larger tumours, undefined in size which meant that stereotactic radiation was no longer an option.
She would have to receive whole brain radiation, sparing the hippocampus.
After completing ten sessions, Morton is now focusing on recovery. She explains the radiation was a lot tougher than expected.
“I fell so ill after the first session I ended up in ED that night, and have had ongoing migraines, nausea and extreme fatigue – far worse than in three months of chemo,” she said.
“But now it’s over, I can focus on rest and recovery. “
Thankful for family, friends
The Perth mother says she’s lucky because of her supportive husband, friends and family.
He’s stepped up to manage the household, and their friends and family have also helped.
Her brother and sister in law have travelled from the country to be in Perth and support them.
“We’ve had home makeovers done for us, washing sorted, meals delivered, sleepovers for the kids, gifts and well wishes,” she said.
“It’s been so uplifting and has really helped get me through the treatment…and helped keep life as ‘normal’ as possible for our kids.”
She explained that this time around the kids have felt it more but remained resilient.
There have been existential talks and reassuring words given to her eldest daughter in particular.
“My husband and I are optimists I suppose, so we cope with humour and not taking life too seriously…even when it feels very serious,” she said.
“To maintain my positive outlook, I focus on all the great things in my life and the fact it’s nearly Christmas, which is my favourite time of year.”
They believe that happiness and fun need to be constant in their children’s lives.
“We will always ensure happiness and fun for our kids, it’s a non-negotiable, so Christmas will be everything we can manage to make it ‘normal’ for them, it will just be at a much slower pace and without so much of the activities that we might normally partake in,” she said.
A GoFundMe has been launched to raise money for the family and as of writing $38,000 has been raised.
The money will help them not worry about future treatment, as well as the holistic therapies that aren’t covered by Medicare or private health.
It will give them more security for her husband to take some time out from running his own business.
“It means we can also get a cleaner to help at home too, which takes the pressure off,” she said.
“We can also truly enjoy the holidays together as a family and make it memorable.”
The money will also help with some small repairs on the house that had to be postponed after the diagnosis.
Rebuilding her health
She said to 7NEWS.com.au that for now, she’s focusing on recovering and rebuilding her health.
This is as well as spending time with loved ones.
One day down the line, she hopes to help other women diagnosed with cancer.
“For now I’m taking everything one day at a time and focusing on being grateful for what we have right now,” she said.
“It’s the easiest way for me to manage how I feel and remain positive.
“There is always something to be happy about…some days you just have to look a little harder to find it!