lymphoma patient Lisa Burges was going through her first round of chemotherapy
when she decided to audition for this year’s season of X Factor.
After chemotherapy in the morning, Lisa
walked down the esplanade in Cairns, her home town, and wowed the judges with
her rendition of Arms of an Angel by
Although she didn’t progress into the second
round of auditions, the 33-year-old described the moment as “the most fantastic
my first round of chemotherapy I was pumped full of steroids and very awake,”
three in the morning I was flipping through Facebook and saw X Factor auditions
were being held in Cairns that day. I just thought, why not!”
After moving to Cairns a year earlier from
Dalby, Lisa began singing professionally at shows around north Queensland, as
well as teaching aqua aerobics and swimming.
But she noticed changes to her voice quality
and breathing, attributing it to anxiety. Despite the symptoms, Lisa kept
“My husband, Simon, was not working at that
stage so I just kept going,” she said. “I spent a lot of time resting while I
was at home and eating as healthily as possible to try and increase my energy.”
Other symptoms included a rash on Lisa’s
upper arms that were put down to anxiety and she was prescribed medication. She
also thought that her regular night sweats were due to Cairns’ humid climate.
It wasn’t until Simon’s birthday in April
this year, when Lisa’s struggle to breath hindered her from joining in on the
day’s activities, that she finally admitted there was something wrong.
After a chest X-ray identified some
complications, Lisa was sent for a CT scan which confirmed a diagnosis of Hodgkin
One lung was completely filled with fluid and
a mass the size of a two-litre milk carton went from Lisa’s collar bone, across
her throat and down into her chest.
“The pressure of this mass had not only
caused two broken ribs, but had pushed my heart to one side and completely
flipped it over,” Lisa explained.
“I could tell from my doctor’s face that he
was pretty horrified at what he was seeing.”
Lisa’s treatment began immediately in the Cairns
Base Hospital, with six litres of fluid being drained out of her lung.
Chemotherapy then commenced and Lisa said she
was so grateful for the support of Simon and their parents.
“Simon was just beginning a new job which was
so difficult for him, so we were very grateful our parents rallied around us
and gave us much needed support,” she said. “I also had wonderful friends who
helped us through this tough time.”
After Lisa’s third round of an intense
chemotherapy regime, a pet scan revealed her tumour was inactive.
“It was such a relief, but I must admit I
wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. I cried a lot; it was just a really
Lisa is thrilled that her voice is “as good
as ever” and she is now getting through the final stages of treatment so she
can get on with her life.
While Lisa says her experience with lymphoma
has made her see so many things with new eyes, she said she now has a totally
new appreciation for the incredible ability the human body to deal with illness
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