Cancer journey ‘a gift’

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'Fortunate': Emma Lange

A Queenstowner facing life-threatening cancer says it’s making her a better person.

Former radio broadcaster and comedian Emma Lange was diagnosed with an invasive brain tumour six months ago, after an MRI scan.

“Kaboom, they found it, it’s big, about a quarter of the size of my brain – it’s boiling away like a stew on the stove.

“They tell you that it will kill you.”

Lange, 43, underwent brain surgery immediately.

“They take what they can out – I wanted to keep it but they wouldn’t let me.”

She then underwent six weeks of radiation in Dunedin, which resulted in her hair loss – “they nuke your brain”.

She’s now taking chemotherapy pills, five days a month, possibly indefinitely, but is fortunately suffering little to no pain despite living with what’s called a “chronic” condition.

Surprisingly, she somehow still calls herself “fortunate”.

“In every way, it does feel like a bit of a gift to me.

“I mean, I am learning exponentially about myself, I’m having great moments of joy.

“I’m learning to like myself, hopefully, to love myself.

“You get to the truth faster when you’ve got a death sentence, basi-cally.

“I’m not all Pollyannaish about it, don’t get me wrong, I have some really dark moments, but they are getting fewer and farther between.”

Soon after her diagnosis, her long-term relationship broke up, she lost her home, and she’s now on the dole.

To help her, Arani Cuthbert, manager of The Topp Twins comedy duo, whom Lange’s worked for, set up a Givealittle website page.

In less than two months, 271 donors raised $35,750 towards her living costs.

Lange says she’s bowled over by people’s generosity, and the support she’s had in Queenstown.

“Truly extraordinary stuff has happened, people I don’t even know have stepped up and given me love.”

She’s spent time in Haast, where she owns “two swampy acres”.

“I’ve got a hut and a long drop, I love it there.”

She’s just back from a month in Fiordland with moose-hunter and scientist Ken Tustin.

No, they didn’t find a moose, but Lange says she had a great time learning from him about the bush.

She’s also sought pain relief by flying to Australia to visit acupuncturist Dr Daniel Waldman, who’s treated her before.

But she’s adamant she’s not looking for a cure in a bottle.

What she really wants is to recapture her creativity.

“I really want to write a show, to tap into my funny bone again.”

Perhaps she’ll indulge in some ‘tumour humour’, she quips.

“I was going to call the show Die, Die, Die or Death, Death, Death and see who came, if anyone.”

scoop@scene.co.nz