Val Tairi couldn’t have been more excited to have her parents visit from North Macedonia.
Val, 32, has been living in Australia for eight years, and in that time she’s had the pleasure of having her parents dad Muarem, 62, and mum Lindita Alimi, 57, holiday in her new hometown.
However, just three weeks before wrapping up their three-month stay, things took a heartbreaking turn.
“The first two months everything was going great, but then Dad started coughing,” Val told news.com.au.
“We all thought it was just a cold and he was coming down with something.”
But to their shock and horror, Muarem was diagnosed with an aggressive lung cancer.
Val had noticed her father was not his usual positive and energetic self, and was looking rather withdrawn.
“I asked Mum what was wrong with Dad and she said, ‘He’s had this cough for a while now and has been worried.’”
Val made an appointment with her GP who then prescribed her dad with antibiotics and gave him a referral for an X-ray.
However, things escalated when her father woke up the following morning with the right side of his face swollen.
“During the day it would go down, but when he would wake up from sleeping, it would swell again,” she said.
Val took her dad for an X-ray, followed by a CT scan, with results revealing that the upper lobe of one of his lungs had collapsed – and that he had extensive small cell lung cancer, an aggressive form of lung cancer.
“I was just sitting there in shock – my soul just started shivering,” a heartbroken Val said.
The specialist explained he was very concerned, as the cancer is pressing on the vena cava – a large vein that carries blood to the heart from other areas of the body.
“That’s why he was swelling. Upright he was fine because of the flow of blood but the moment he would lay down, that’s when he would swell,” Val said.
“The specialist sent us to emergency straight away as dad could have [had] a heart attack at anytime.”
Muarem has since undergone a biopsy and has already started cancer treatment.
“Doctors wanted to start chemo straight away because they know how aggressive it is,” Val said.
He is currently staying at Austin Hospital in Melbourne’s northeast suburb of Heidelberg where the 62-year-old is expected to have up to eight rounds of chemo, with the first round having started on Monday.
Val has applied for a medical treatment visa for her father which will allow him to stay in the country while he undergoes treatment — and she is also waiting to hear back from his insurance company about cover.
In the meantime, the family has started a GoFundMe page to help with piling medical costs, such as the daily bed fee cost of $1700. So far Muarem has been in hospital 10 days, amounting to close to $20,000.
“They are meant to fly out on Monday, but if we can get him to stay here to get treated it will be the best thing,” Val said.
“I am very grateful he is here and not in North Macedonia as the medical system is horrendous – and that we are around him.
“We are trying to stay as positive as possible but it has been a very big shock and a lot of stress because on top of everything, we have to deal with immigration and funds, and everything is a lot more complicated.”
In just 24 hours of creating the GoFundMe, more than $44,000 has been raised to help the family, to which Val said she is beyond grateful.
“We thank each and everyone from the bottom of our hearts in helping to save a life of a loved husband, father, grandfather, uncle and a man full of love for life,” she wrote on the page.