A young writer living with stage four melanoma has shared the life lessons she’s learned during her battle with the disease so far.
Natalie Fornasier, from Sydney, discovered she had skin cancer following a shock diagnosis after a tiny mole on her foot left the ‘perfectly healthy’ student fighting for her life.
In a heartbreaking admission, the 25-year-old woman said: ‘I have no idea what I’m doing in life, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.
‘My days are filled with idleness and uncertainty when all I want to do is move forward and establish a new normal. I want to have a career but no one will give me a chance because of my health.
‘I want to have a family, but I don’t know if I will be able to. I want to live until I’m 80, but who knows if I’ll see 30.
‘I mourn the version of myself that I thought was forever, and every day I’m left no choice but to dive headfirst into this new person I’m still figuring out.’
Natalie was just 20 years old when she woke up one morning to find her legs covered in bruises during a holiday in Greece.
She initially thought she’d been sleep walking but her friends didn’t notice anything until she realised the mole on her toe, in which she had since birth changed shape.
It wasn’t until two weeks after returning home, she was told she had advanced melanoma before undergoing surgeries to get her toe amputated and remove the lymph nodes in her groin.
Natalie – who’s the ambassador for a social media campaign called #CallTimeonMelanoma – has since been urging young women to get their skin checked and to be more cautious with sun baking.
Speaking out on World Cancer Day on Tuesday, February 4, Natalie said she wanted to use her platform to raise awareness about the life-threatening illness.
‘Cancer isn’t something we can turn a blind eye to,’ she said.
‘As much as we strive for inclusion and diversity, cancer isn’t often included in that list despite it being something that will touch us all at some point in our lives.
‘So, it’s important that we acknowledge it for what it is. It’s a horrible disease that needs awareness in many facets, from fundraising to inclusion in every day life.’
She described cancer as a ‘life-changing’ moment in her life because she ‘didn’t sign up for this battle willingly’.
‘I know we all can’t be promised tomorrow, and these feelings aren’t just my own, but are felt by all who have had their bodies turn against them,’ she said.
‘Cancer is life changing. Truly. And that’s just putting it mildly. There’s a new normal we must learn, our feet forever walking the fine line between the ‘before’ and ‘after’.’
‘Sure, there are elements of beauty in my new-found life. I’m more aware of just how treasured my breaths are, that every hug I’m given I commit to memory, that every laugh I laugh is a joy. Yet, it is a life that I didn’t choose for myself.’
By sharing her story, she said she wanted to ‘live in a world that sees cancer not considered as a hindrance or a hurdle’.
‘That the organisations dedicated to the cause are there to speak with us, not for us. There are so many instances it stops us from living our lives,’ she said.
‘That along with our toxic bodies, our voices aren’t heard and our freedom of choice is something we reflect upon every day.’