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THE SOUTHERN CROSS June 2017 | www.thesoutherncross.org.au 17
It’s only a small word but for
32-year-old Tarina Marcinkowski
it was the biggest question on her
mind when her two-year-old son was
diagnosed with a brain tumour in
Tarina was pregnant with her second
son Luke at the time. She and her
husband Anthony endured 18 months
of agony watching their precious
child go through brain surgery,
before succumbing to the cancer in
“The smallest, most significant
question is that three letter word
‘why’,” said Tarina.
“The simple answer is there is no
answer, the answer is the journey of
trying to find an answer – finding out
your why, understanding who you are,
For Tarina, that journey meant doing
something she had always dreamed of
doing but never had the courage to –
write a book.
There were days when it was too
hard and she would stop writing
but from the moment Jack died she
knew she had to do it. Only a few
weeks after his death she put in an
application requesting his medical
records because she didn’t want to
forget what he had been through.
Despite her very personal struggle
with grief and having to look after a
young child, she was inspired by Jack
to keep going.
“I used to think I wasn’t good
enough, I’m a small-time girl from
Adelaide...I gave up on myself,” said
Tarina, who attended Stella Maris
Primary School and Salesian College
where she met Anthony.
“But when it was about Jack, there
was never that thought.
“He taught me to believe in myself.
He was so courageous, he lived life to
the fullest, he was grateful, forgiving
Tarina hopes Jack’s story will
inspire others: “We all have to be
child-like, forgive instantly, love
unconditionally, be grateful for every
moment, live for the moment.
“It’s not an easy read, it’s highly
emotional – but if I change one
person’s life by making them grateful,
it will be enough.”
Tarina writes frankly about the
indignation and pain of watching
her little boy endure the cruellest
of treatments in a bid to cure him
and the frustration of being advised
not to administer his medication
(or follow strict precautions, which
she did). Even changing his nappy
was considered a risk because of the
possible effect of the chemotherapy
drugs on her pregnancy.
The book documents long days and
nights spent in hospital with a two-
year-old child who can’t understand
why he has to fast and the gut-
wrenching experience of watching
him constantly vomit his medication
But perhaps the most upsetting part
of the book is when Jack goes back
to hospital for an MRI about eight
weeks after his treatment has finished
and Tarina is told by the oncologist
that Jack and 10 other child cancer
patients were been given the wrong
chemotherapy dosages which leaves
them wondering what impact this
might have. That night, the doctor
phones them to inform them that
the MRI has revealed the cancer has
returned and spread.
Jack is given only 12 weeks to live
but Tarina refuses to give up and
embarks on natural therapies while
also trying desperately to give him a
Tarina admits there were times
when she questioned who would want
to read “such a sad story” but her
husband Anthony read every chapter
and kept telling her she didn’t know
how talented she was.
“He told me ‘if we have just one
book to hold, it’s enough’,” she said.
“Anthony and I, we’ve always been
a good pair...we said no matter what
happens, this is not going to break us
up. We made this pact, that it wouldn’t
tear us apart.”
Now Tarina is determined to keep
writing and has already started on
two more books – a work of fiction
and a follow-up book about her own
personal battle with grief.
“Jack has taught me to believe in
myself, this is real and it’s not going
to stop,” she insisted.
“I have too much to say.”
Just Believe is published by Balboa
Press and can be ordered through
www.balboapress.com.au or major
A little giving
goes a long way.
Charity is at the heart of Living
Catholic. This winter show your love
for your neighbour by giving to
Catholic Charities – your umbrella
organisation that supports local
agencies working with the most
vulnerable in our community from the
homeless to respite care.
Make a donation today by post to:
Catholic Charities Appeal,
Reply Paid 912, GPO Adelaide SA 5001
or online via www.adelaide.catholic.org.au
For more information, call 08 8210 8157.
He taught me to
believe in myself. He
was so courageous,
he lived life to the
fullest, he was
and son Luke
with a tribute
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