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19 May, 2021

Young, local family face worst of times

SINCE she was just 15 years old and he was the “boy who lived around the corner,” Nigel Taylor has been Becky's rock.


Happier times for the family, when Nigel, Becky, Keyon, Riley and Tymika Taylor were still able to enjoy the outdoors together

BY SALLY TURLEY 

SINCE she was just 15 years old and he was the “boy who lived around the corner,” Nigel Taylor has been Becky's rock.  He helped her escape from an abusive situation in her family home and has made it his business to look after her ever since.

Nigel has always been a practical, outdoorsy guy who was happy to work 60 hours a week to provide for his family and even happier to spend every available minute of his spare time camping, fishing and pig hunting in the bush. 

When Nigel was mining, he loved nothing better after finishing his 10 day shifts, than heading up around Cooktown on his days off to fish, swim and camp with Becky and their 3 children, Tymika (11), Riley (8) and Keyon (5). 

“He never stopped,” Becky said, "sometimes his energy levels used to do my head in, but nothing like now, seeing him struggling to do the most basic physical task, being bound to those four walls and sleeping most of the time." 

In 2016, Nigel was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (GBM), when a massive tumour, the size of a tennis ball was found in his head. 

The tumour was removed during surgery and treated with chemotherapy and radiation in an attempt to control this aggressive and debilitating disease. 

By 2017 he was in remission with a prognosis of around 14 months to live. Three years later, Becky said they had begun to quietly hope they had cheated the odds and beat the death sentence Nigel had been living under. 

By September that year, the GBM was back. Nigel returned to the operating table, but the tentacle-like tumours of this most aggressive of cancers advance rapidly and are hard to remove surgically. The operation was only partially successful and he was started on chemotherapy to prolong his life. 

Last month, Nigel was hospitalised for seizures, a symptom often associated with the 'end of life' phase of the disease. An MRI showed his cancer had spread to his cerebral spinal fluid, a condition known as leptomeningial disease characterised by indications such as difficulty thinking, swallowing and speaking, double vision, pain and weakness. 

At this stage, Nigel's life expectancy was reduced from months to just weeks. His mind has been rapidly deteriorating with the onset of dementia symptoms. 

Nigel's wish was to stay home as long as possible and Becky struggles constantly with the question of "why him?"

Becky struggles constantly with the question of "why him?"  

“We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. The reoccurrence was so dreadful after living in fear for years every time we had to wait for new MRI results." 

Becky said it broke her heart to hear their son Riley pleading for one last fishing trip with his dad. 

“Nigel had taken him camping at the Walsh River and he longed to share that time again with his father saying "even if you can't take your boat Dad, we could just sit on the bank together and fish." 

He has always been my strength and so I am trying not to let him see how much this is hurting. He tells me that he believes in me, that I will have the strength to do this, so I am just trying to deal with each day as it comes.

For this 'jack of all trades' who loved sushi, the occasional beer and had a real sweet tooth, this all started with a few headaches. 

"We didn't realise how bad this was and this has taught me how important it is to listen to your body and not delay that visit to the doctor. 

"Now all I am hoping for is the opportunity to just be there for Nigel, to share memories if he is up to talking and to make him feel loved and appreciated until he draws his last breath." 

The couple's good friend Hannah Sinclair has set up a fund raiser for the family to try to support them during this incredibly difficult time. 

With help from their local community, she hopes Becky may be able to afford to reduce her hours working as a cleaner and spend more time at home with Nigel. 

Any excess funds would go towards the inevitable funeral costs. Donations can be made on behalf of the family by clicking below



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