A couple from The Basin has finally returned home after being stranded in Mexico due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Pregnant mother Bec Paton and her fianc¨¦ Jay Morrow received a travel exemption in August so Jay could receive vital cancer treatment overseas.
But after new Australian Government restrictions came into effect, return flights were estimated to cost about $40,000 – a figure the couple couldn’t afford.
“What created the issue to get back was the Government bringing in new restrictions right as we left. They lowered the number of people that were allowed to get back into Australia,” Bec said.
“Because of that the price of flights went up.”
After being in Mexico for about five weeks, the chances of the couple getting home before Bec gave birth were looking slim.
“It was a very upsetting and stressful time for both of us,” Bec said.
“We thought we would be having the baby there, I 100 per cent did not think we would be able to get home.”
But an anonymous philanthropist soon came to the rescue, after hearing about their story and offering to pay for the flights.
“There’s no words for that, the feeling, that instant relief of knowing that oh my god I’m going home,” Bec said.
“It was the best feeling…We were both in so much shock, we didn’t know what to think.”
Jay was first diagnosed with liver cancer in February last year. He was in remission until May this year before being told the cancer had come back in the form of a 3cm diameter tumour near his liver.
“After the cancer had returned Jay’s oncologist had basically told him there was nothing left he could do,” Bec said.
“The chemo wasn’t working anymore and surgery wasn’t available safely because of the location of the tumour.”
With no other options left, the couple decided to embark on a last-ditch journey to Mexico for treatment – they even considered selling their house to pay for it.
“Lengthening Jay’s life was all that mattered for us,” Bec said.
But after a family member set up a fundraiser, enough money was raised to get Bec and Jay to Mexico, and for most of Jay’s treatment.
While in Mexico, Jay received eight hours of treatment everyday for six days a week.
“We’d have to be at the centre at 7am every morning, I’d have to do eight hours of therapy,” Jay said.
“Over the whole time I was there, I think I did about 240 different treatments…It was a lot to squeeze in three weeks.”
But the results from his treatment have already started to show.
“My tumour has shrunk by 10 per cent,” Jay said.
“My tumour markers were down and my liver’s functioning really well, like someone that’s not sick.
“I’ve got a pretty intense home program…Probably three hours every day for my home program is taken up by stuff I need to continue for three months.”
Bec said that despite the challenges faced over the past few months, the couple were extremely grateful for all of the support they had received.
“Ever since all of this started and our story got out there have been so many people in the Australian community, around Melbourne and Victoria, that have contacted us and given us support,” she said.
“I’ve really learnt how lucky we are to live in a country where everyone’s so happy to help each other.
“I read stories like this all the time, but until you experience it yourself and you’re actually in a situation where you need help…You don’t realise how real that community spirit is.”
The couple are expected to be released from quarantine on 18 September where they will finally be reunited with their daughters, Taylah and Madisyn, after 7 weeks apart.
To find out more about Jay and Bec’s story, follow Jay’s Hope on Facebook.