Jodie Sheean has terminal cancer and her devoted dad, Phil, has given up his life in Victoria to care for her on the Gold Coast.
JODIE Sheean is so glad this story is being written.
“Dad deserves recognition for what he’s done,” the 38-year-old said of a man who, in a society where so many men are failing their most important task, epitomises what it means to be a father.
“He’s been through a lot himself and to just drop everything to care for me is amazing. I don’t think he even weighed it up. I phoned to tell him I had cancer and he just said ‘I’m coming’.”
Phil Sheean is a 64-year-old former labourer who a year ago was enjoying the early stages of retirement in Victoria. Golf. Fishing. Hanging with mates.
Phil Sheean has relocated to the Gold Coast from Victoria to care for his terminally ill daughter, Jodie: “I’m not a doctor. About all I can do is give her a hug.”
Then came that phone call.
“I was here within a couple of days,” he said of his decision to give up his retirement to care for the youngest of his three children on the Gold Coast.
“She didn’t want me to but she probably thought she could beat it, that it was no big deal.
“As soon as I heard the word ‘cancer’ though, I knew it was going to be tough. My sister-in-law was only 33 when she died pretty horribly of cancer. I know what people go through.”
Sure enough, Jodie’s cancer is now terminal. Six months ago doctors said her best hope was three years. Her worst? One.
“You feel helpless,” Phil said. “You don’t know what to think.
“You read the internet about cannabis oil and last resorts. You have sleepless nights … and the inevitable is always in the back of your mind.”
With her mother not on the scene, Jodie and Phil are a double act these days.
They share a pad at Pimpama. He ferries her to appointments and makes her laugh when she’s feeling like crap. She reminds him to look after his own chronic health issues and loves him for always ensuring there’s chocolate in the fridge.
They also reflect on a journey that’s been tougher than most.
“I’ve had two kidney transplants, the first when I was nine,” Jodie revealed.
Born with reflux nephropathy, she had renal failure at eight and a year of dialysis until she was blessed to receive a new kidney. She was 21 when she needed another one.
“But there’s no point sitting around moping,” Jodie said.
Jodie Sheean and her father, Phil, share a special bond.
“I have bad days, especially when the pain gets rough and I hide away under a rock, but I’ve just got to keep going.
“I know there are people out there much worse than me. Except for being bald, I don’t look sick. I don’t have to sit in a wheelchair or be attached to a machine.”
Phil added: “I’ve never heard her say ‘Why me?’.”
With both father and daughter on pensions, money is tight. He lives in fear of their car breaking down and yearns for a rental property closer to the hospital. She dreams of ticking a few items off her bucket list, with friends launching a fundraiser in her honour.
“That kind of restores your faith in humanity,” Phil said.
“You do the best you can but it’s very wearying. You’ve got no idea how tired you get and it’s hard because you’re pretty useless really. I’m not a doctor. About all I can do is give her a hug.”
But you’re pretty good at that, hey?
“Well, I’ve had enough experience.”