Sydney woman, 30, 'on top of the world' receives terminal diagnosis

·3-min read

At the age of 29, Moana Smith was feeling “on top of the world”.

She was living in Sydney and had just been promoted at her hotel job. She had also just begun studying to become a paramedic.

“I had so many dreams,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

Tragically, the “bubbly” and “social” woman’s goals were cut short when she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer — transitional cell carcinoma — in November last year.

Ms Smith, now 30, has just been placed on palliative care, with doctors not sure how much time she has left.

Moana Smith before and after being diagnosed with cancer.
Moana Smith was diagnosed with cancer in November last year. Source: Supplied

“The cancer is going to kill me,” she said tearfully from her hospital bed on Wednesday.

Before her diagnosis, Ms Smith had been sick with persistent urinary tract infections and sought help from specialists.

However, it was not until she got her AstraZeneca Covid vaccine that she learned the horrible truth.

Ms Smith was rushed to hospital after she suffered a severe reaction, and a follow-up scan found cancerous lesions throughout her body, including her shoulders, hip bones and a tumour on her left ovary.

He right ovary was subsequently removed because it was also “riddled with cancer”, she says.

Initially concerned it was ovarian cancer, doctors were later able to confirm it had started in her bladder.

Doctors stop cancer treatment: 'Quite aggressive'

The aspiring paramedic told Yahoo News Australia she immediately began chemotherapy, which worked “perfectly” after six cycles.

“It shrunk some of the cancer, but all this work wore off quite fast,” Ms Smith said.

“[Doctors] didn’t think it would be this aggressive.”

The 30-year-old underwent one round of immunotherapy, but last week — five weeks after being readmitted to hospital with a kidney infection — she was told there was nothing more physicians could do.

They’ve decided to stop treatment.

Moana Smith before and after being diagnosed with cancer.
Doctors have decided to stop Ms Smith's treatment, saying the cancer is too aggressive. Source: Supplied

Although no new cancerous lesions have formed, Ms Smith said the ones on her bones are “quite aggressive”.

“They don’t like to piss off really,” she joked.

Doctors are now working to stabilise Ms Smith and have inserted a permanent epidural, leaving her paralysed from the waist down but improving her quality of life.

“I was in so much pain. Pain I would never wish on anyone,” she said.

Woman's last plea: 'Be a good person'

On Friday, Ms Smith will leave the hospital for her aunt’s house, where she has a hospital bed and wheelchair.

The 30-year-old said doctors have not given her a timeframe for how much longer she’ll live.

So she’s determined to spend as much time as she has left with friends and family.

And maybe even go to the beach and put her feet in the sand.

Her loved ones have created a GoFundMe account to help her with medical bills.

Ms Smith said she worries about leaving behind her beloved mum, who has already had to bury one child.

“We lost our father and brother four days apart about 10 years ago,” she said, describing her life as “pretty big for a 30-year-old”.

With her last days ahead, Ms Smith has vowed to leave the world as she came in — “as a good person”. She also has a message for others.

“I just want everyone to get out there and be a good person. The world doesn’t owe anyone anything, you have to get out there to conquer the world yourself and have a good life.”

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