Miss World Australia finalist Tirah Ciampa from Tasmania opens up about her pancreatic cancer battle and the symptoms she missed
- Tirah Ciampa, 27, had huge tumour in her pancreas
- Model wrote ‘goodbye letters’ to loved ones
- Reveals the symptoms she missed and advice for others
A Miss World Australia finalist thought her life was over in February and began the grim task of writing ‘goodbye letters’ to loved one.
Tirah Ciampa, 27, from Somerset in Tasmania’s north west, had a massive tumour inside her pancreas and underwent a painstaking seven-hour surgery to remove it.
The procedure required her to be hooked up to nine different tubes in hospital for more than a week and fed a liquid diet to survive.
In the months prior, Ms Ciampa knew there was something wrong but admits she ignored the warning signs.
‘It felt like I had been punched in the back,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘I was constantly laying on the floor at work and going to physio. I thought I had hurt myself at the gym or maybe just slouching at my desk.’
Tirah Ciampa, 27, has revealed how she felt symptoms for almost a year before doctors operated to move a massive 15 x 15 cm tumour which had already devoured half her pancreas
Ms Ciampa had written ‘goodbye letters’ to loved ones because she thought the cancer would kill her
Ms Ciampa said her heart rate would spike and she would suffer cramps randomly.
‘I’ve been in and out of the doctors since November last year trying to work out what was happening,’ she explained.
‘I had a cardiologist looking after me but it wasn’t until February when I was booked in for an abdominal ultrasound and that’s when I saw the huge mass.’
Doctors had finally discovered the source of her pain: a 15 x 15cm tumour inside her pancreas, which had already consumed half the organ.
‘Listen to your body! Especially women who put every weird feeling down to their menstrual cycle or hormones,’ she said.
‘Your body is a temple; it’s all we have to live in this beautiful world. Don’t take it for granted.’
Ms Ciampa will never be able to drink alcohol again, play sport and there is a permanent clot in her spleen
She urged people, especially women, to listen to their bodies and not to dismiss ‘every weird feeling down to their menstrual cycle or hormones’
She said it was ‘crazy’ to go on living for so long with a pancreas functioning at 50 per cent capacity.
‘I was writing letters to my loved ones, sorting out my superannuation, clearing out my laptop and spring cleaning,’ Ms Ciampa told The Sunday Tasmanian.
‘I wanted to make sure my funeral would be paid for, that it would be an easy mess to clean up. I was getting ready to be gone.’
Following her marathon surgery, the gruelling recovery process began involving extensive physiotherapy.
But Ms Ciampa miraculously overcame her battle against the odds and is preparing to take the stage at the Miss World Australia national finals on the Gold Coast in August.
Unlike other contestants, she will have a long scar that runs from her chest to her belly button.
But she says she’s ‘not afraid to show [it] – even in a two-piece bikini on stage’.
The Hobart-based model will compete in next month Miss World Australia finals
Her seven-hour surgery has left her with a long scar running from her chest to her belly button
While Ms Ciampa will never be able to drink alcohol again or play sport due to a permanent clot in her spleen, the model says she’s incredibly fortunate.
‘I am so lucky to still have the head of my pancreas and due to my healthy lifestyle I may not get diabetes until I am much older,’ she said.
Ms Ciampa has raised over $2,500 toward her $5000 target for the Variety Children’s Charity, which helps disadvantaged kids.
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