A young mother whose world has been turned upside down after being diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable cancer while heavily pregnant has issued a desperate warning to others to go for regular skin checks.
Elise Squillari was 32 weeks pregnant with her second child when she was recently admitted to hospital on the Gold Coast suffering from severe headaches.
She underwent emergency surgery after multiple lesions were found on her brain that had caused life threatening bleeding.
Ms Squillari was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, an extremely aggressive skin cancer which spreads to other parts of the body, and which she believes started when a cancerous cell was missed when a spot was cut out of her back.
She has been told by doctors that treatment will be life prolonging, rather than life-saving, as the average survival rate is between six and 22 months.
Her son Romeo was delivered by emergency caesarian days later at 33 weeks so she can start immunotherapy treatment immediately.
Ms Squillari opened up about her harrowing ordeal from hospital on Tuesday to provide an update on Romeo’s progress and her shock diagnosis as she pleaded for others to get their skin checked.
Family and friends have rallied around Elise Squillari and husband Dylan (pictured after Romeo was delivered by emergency C-section) after her shock diagnosis
She also claimed tumours in her body grew from one cell that was missed from getting a spot cut out of her back years ago.
‘Please guys, grab a friend and get a skin check,’ Ms Squillari posted on Instagram.
‘I was getting 3-6 month checks. Years ago I had a spot cut out of my back, I was told it could turn cancerous.
They called me back to get the skin around it out too. It’s likely that a cell was missed and has caused the tumours in my body to grow from one cell.
‘So please take this seriously and get a skin check.’
Ms Squillari is expected to be released from hospital on Wednesday and will start treatment the following day as an outpatient.
The five-year survival rate for stage four metastatic melanoma is 22.5 per cent.
Thousands of Australians have rallied around Ms Squillari, her husband Dylan, three-year-old daughter Gigi and newborn Romeo by donating almost $300,000.
Romeo, who entered the world weighing 2.1 kilograms will remain in hospital for another six weeks.
Neurologists at Gold Coast University Hospital discovered multiple brain lesions when they examined Ms Squillari (pictured) who was 32-weeks pregnant
Before Ms Squillari (pictured with Dylan and Gigi) could undergo urgent immunotherapy treatment, doctors would have to deliver her baby early at just 33 weeks
Ms Squillari thanked the public for their generous donations and sharing her story.
‘We can’t put into words how much this means to us. We have both had to stop work and now Dylan can care for us all without stressing about finances,’ she wrote.
‘Romeo has to stay in hospital until full term. He is going so well and kicking all the premmie goals.
‘Again, thank you to everyone that has donated, every time you share our story, to all the local businesses helping us out. We appreciate everything.
‘Every message we receive has us smiling. Can’t wait to start my treatment and be with family.’
Her husband described his wife as the ‘strongest, most beautiful woman in the world’ as he shared a heartwarming photo of the couple meeting and holding tiny Romeo for the first time.
‘We are so in love, he has bought so much love at the time we needed it the most,’ he posted.
Baby Romeo entered the world seven weeks early weighing 2.1kg (pictured) after his mother’s cancer was discovered
His wife also shared photos documenting her final trimester, taken before her world was turned upside down.
‘I can’t believe this was a few weeks ago. I thought we still had another couple of months with just us. The world had other plans,’ Ms Squillari captioned the photos.
A fundraiser set up by a family friend has now raised almost $300,000, which will go towards bills, family support, donor breastmilk for baby Romeo, alternative therapies, and living expenses.
‘This is just the start of a very challenging time for Elise and Dylan,’ Olivia Smith wrote on the GoFundMe page.
‘Dylan will be unable to work for some time as he looks after Elise.
‘The best way we can all help is to relieve this financial stress so Elise and Dylan can focus on what’s important right now – Elise’s health and their new baby.’
Young pregnant mother Elise Squillari (pictured with husband Dylan and their year-old daughter, Gigi) was admitted to hospital just over a week ago and told she needed to have emergency brain surgery
A fundraiser set up by a family friend has now raised almost $300,000 for Ms Squillari and her family