A “warrior” young mother dying of a rare form of brain cancer has been presented with her master’s degree bedside in a Darwin, Australia hospital.
On Friday, Anna Yu, 28, received her accounting masters degree from Charles Darwin University (CDU) after spending the past two years studying.
But Yu isn’t any typical student, spending the past six months battling a rare form of brain cancer after having her first baby.
Yu and her husband Will Hou’s baby girl Sunny was born in February. Five months later doctors discovered a 10cm tumor growing on her spine.
In June, she was diagnosed with GBM (glioblastoma multiforme), an aggressive, fast-growing tumor in her brain stem.
Hou said his wife was in a coma, suffering with a high fever after having a seizure.
As Anna laid in her hospital bed dressed in a graduation gown, her parents and baby girl wept over her.
She is unable to move by herself, open her eyes or swallow, but “she is still listening.”
On Thursday, Yu’s university called Hou to tell him that she had completed her degree.
She had been studying while in hospital, with her family, doctors and nurses there to support her through it.
“She kept learning through her illness, and she finished her study. She just accomplished her degree. Remember her forever. Her name is Anna,” Hou said as her degree was presented.
“When we told Anna of this good news, she couldn’t move but her eyes opened a little,” Hou said.
CDU informed Hou that his wife’s certificate would be presented to her in the hospital in Darwin in what Will described as a “monumental moment”.
Glioblastoma typically appears in people in their 60s and has an incidence of three in 100,000.
Sadly, the survival rate for patients with this kind of brain cancer drops from 40 percent in the first year after diagnosis to just 17 percent in the second.
With essential treatment, Ms. Yu was told that she would only have three to six months left to live.
The staff at the Darwin Private Hospital cried and celebrated Ms. Yu’s incredible achievement.
“It’s really wonderful,” Hou said.
“The first time I went to the doctor with her to talk about the disease I needed an interpreter, but the doctors and nurses have been with us from the start.”
Yu’s story was initially shared on a GoFundMe site, trying to raise money for potentially lifesaving treatment.
Hou said he was so grateful for all the donations his family had received, and it was “peaceful” knowing of all the support.
He will use the money to raise his baby girl, Sunny, who reminds him of his wife.
“She is my only goal to keep me going,” he said.
Yu completed her degree by studying in hospital during rounds of chemotherapy treatments.
“Anna is a fighter, she is a warrior. She is not a poor woman with cancer, she is a fighter. She has never complained, she has never been afraid,” Hou said.
“In Anna’s case, her cancer is more rare. The doctor said there are only one or two cases in Australia.
“She is willing to donate all of her body parts, but because of the cancer some of her body can’t be used.
“After the celebration, I will sign the donation documents.
“That would be a moment in history.
“I have no more words.
“I have no regret, and I have tried my best.”
Mr. Hou said his wife’s parents were struggling to understand as they didn’t speak English, but they were by her side.