Cancer sufferer dies after delaying preventative surgery

Close family: Elisha, left, with sisters Christine and Veronica.
Close family: Elisha, left, with sisters Christine and Veronica.

A Queensland woman who helped bring attention to hereditary cancer has died after losing her battle with ovarian cancer.

Elisha Neave was only 30 years old when she decided to delay elective surgery after she found out she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation, which brings a high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Her two older sisters Veronica and Christine, who also tested positive with the so-called cancer gene, opted to undergo hysterectomies and double mastectomies.

However, Ms Neave chose to delay the operation in the hope she could have more children with husband Brendan Hopp and give her now 11-year-old son some siblings.

Their decision-making journey was documented in a 2009 film titled Pieces of Me, which was shot by their brother Denny who was the first member of the family not carrying the gene.

Four years after the test, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer.

She died on Wednesday in a Gold Coast hospital aged 36.

Her family broke the news on a Facebook page set up to fund-raise for her treatment.

"Surrounded by the love of her closest friends and family and after the bravest of fights our little girl slipped away peacefully at 12.30 last night with Dads tunes on the radio amidst the laughter and tears that comes with a typical Neave gathering".

Despite a year of chemotherapy, Ms Neave was told in February 2013 that she had until Christmas to live.

"As far as I knew, I was in the clear and my next doctor's appointment would be a check-up where he said, 'Everything is going great, enjoy your life!' " Ms Neave told Fairfax Media at the time.

Like Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who last year had both her breasts removed and plans to remove her ovaries after testing positive for the BRCA gene, Ms Neave was determined to raise more awareness about hereditary cancer by sharing her experience.

"It's about firstly creating more awareness about the BRCA 2 Gene, and awareness about being vigilant and early detection in young women so hopefully young people never end up where I did," she wrote on Facebook in April.

"Why am I doing this? Because I will stop at nothing to fight for my life, for my son, he deserves that. Why do I have to leave the country and my family for treatment? Because Australia does not offer these cancer treatments. And do not make their drugs available to me."

Ms Neave had previously received invasive treatment in Germany was scheduled to travel to China in April for urgent treatment.

The trip was cancelled after she suffered complications from a kidney operation, contracted two infections and had liver failure, her family said on Facebook.

Ms Neave's funeral will be held on Monday at The Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Ashmore.

Her family said that she requested that "no daggy or somber clothes or sentiments rather she wanted colour, happy, fun and glam for her celebration of her life".

They also asked that in place of flowers, donations be directed to the Elisha Neave Health Fund for her son.

This story Cancer sufferer dies after delaying preventative surgery first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.