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Terminally-ill woman’s trip cut short

Wednesday, 27th May, 2015

Port Macquarie couple Fiona and Alex Perez were left gutted after an opportunity to fulfil Fiona’s “last wish” was cut short and stranded them in Broken Hill. Port Macquarie couple Fiona and Alex Perez were left gutted after an opportunity to fulfil Fiona’s “last wish” was cut short and stranded them in Broken Hill.

By Erica Visser

A terminally-ill Port Macquarie woman is stranded in Broken Hill after her dream to caravan across Australia was tragically cut short.

Six months ago doctors told 45-year-old Fiona Perez that breast cancer had spread to her bones and was terminal.

The devastating news sparked a bold decision by Fiona and her husband Alex to sell their home and restaurant business to embark on a final trip around the country.

But just 10 days into their journey disaster struck when the pair’s Toyota Prado broke down near Wanaaring and had to be towed to Broken Hill.

It would cost $12,000 to install a new engine in the car, however, the couple had put all of their savings towards Fiona’s “last wish.”

Not ready to give up and go home, they’ve spent the past fortnight at a local caravan park alongside Fiona’s parents, who joined the trip to provide support.

“Alex and I met in Spain and got married back here 14 years ago. I’ve always wanted to show him Australia but we didn’t think the trip would come this soon,” Fiona said yesterday.

“We couldn’t just pack up and leave, I had to work out a plan for treatment and we had a lot of things go wrong.

“When we actually got on the road I thought, ‘Thank goodness, this is it.’ I think when the car broke down it hit me even harder than when I got the diagnosis.”

Last week local woman Ann Brown heard about the strangers’ plight on Facebook, suggested Fiona start a fundraising page, and put forward the first $100 herself.

Fiona said she was hesitant to ask for help but the “last resort” effort has so far raised $3000 towards a new engine.

She hoped to raise enough to allow for the pair to continue on their dream trip towards their final destination - Uluru.

“It has restored a lot of human faith to think somebody who doesn’t know me would reach out like that, especially because everyone is doing it tough at the moment,” Fiona said.

“We have never asked for help but this was suggested to us and it’s our last resort.”

Fiona’s health has deteriorated since the incident, which Alex put down to extreme stress. 

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 before beating the disease, only to find out in 2013 it had returned.

Despite the circumstances, the couple noted the welcoming nature of Broken Hill people which had reminded them of home.

Donations to Fiona’s cause can be made online at www.gofundme.com/fionaperez.

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