Australian high jumper Amy Pejkovic talks about her battle with brain tumour
Amy Pejkovic is a model and high jumper who hails from Sydney, Australia. In 2012 her dreams of competing in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games were shattered after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. But, in an incredible show of strength and resilience, the 24-year-old is on the mend and is remaining hopeful that she will compete in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
In an interview with the Sunday Herald Sun, the athlete/model spoke in detail about how she feared she would lose her battle to a brain tumour in 2012. Pejkovic says that was misdiagnosed twice, after doctors initially dismissed her excruciating headaches and vomiting as nothing more than a middle-ear infection, before eventually realising what the cause of her pain was.
"I was probably days away from dying, that is what they [doctor] said to me," Pejkovic said.
Pejkovic said that she was unaware of the extent of her condition, despite the fact that she had suffered years of severe headaches, before she received her shock diagnosis.
"At one stage the headaches were daily, I was vomiting at every training session, I could not balance properly. I would try to walk through a door frame and just fall into the wall. I could not do anything properly," she said.
After she had an MRI scan, the young model was diagnosed with a five-centimetre tumour that was found inside of her brain.
"All I could think of was that I was only 19, I still have so much left to do, I have so much left to give and I am not ready to die," she said.
The diagnosis meant that Amy had to put her dreams of competing at the Olympics on hold, despite the fact she was training to make the Australian athletics team at the time. The high jumper had already qualified to compete in the World Junior Championships in Barcelona and she had steady work coming in as a model.
Amy bounced back from the tumour and two years after it was removed, she was ranked No. 2 in high jump in Australia. But despite her incredible recovery, Amy suffered a type of delayed shock in her condition.
"I was a complete mess, mentally I could not get over what had happened," she said
"It's weird when I think about everything I had done before the diagnosis. It's like, jeez, I did all of that with a brain tumour in my head."
In another interview with the Daily Mail Australia, Amy describes the moment she saw a "big white blob on my brainstem" when she looked at her scans.
"I just sat there and didn't say anything for ten minutes," she said.
"I've never been so heartbroken. At that time, not making the Olympics or even modelling again wasn't exactly a priority.
"It was the fact that I questioned: 'Am I going to be alive to continue to do the things that I love doing?'"
Amy says that she feels "proud" of her powers of recovery and the fact that she has managed to move forward with her life, saying:
"(I'm proud of) being able to sort of almost put it behind me and not let it control my life because it is tough trying to move on from it."
Well done Amy, it takes extraordinary courage and self belief to come through something as harrowing as what she has experienced, and hopefully we will see her compete at the Olympics.