In the first week of December 2018, 31-year-old mother of one Elizabeth Pickworth was diagnosed with cancer of the Thymus gland, a rare cancer that affects fewer than one person per 1.5 million people.
She has an almost 20-centimetre-wide tumour above her heart, surrounding her major arteries. Chemotherapy has had only a minimal effect in reducing the the size of the tumour, as it was so large and advanced. But she will still undergo risky surgery this month to try to remove it.
The Canberra mum realised something was wrong while driving to work when she had chest pain. She thought it was just a cold and went to work.
She eventually told her manager she was not feeling great, went to a nearby doctor's and an ambulance was called. An X-ray confirmed the tumour.
"I'm so thankful I was in so much pain because it was a stage-four tumour and if it hadn't been found, I could be dead by now," she said.
"I am so grateful for the high-level care I am receiving from Canberra Hospital and the Canberra Cancer Centre. They are saving my life."
Liz has had a can-do attitude to beating the cancer. She has kept going to work as the office manager at Proximity, an advisory firm in Canberra.
She said her employer has been extremely supportive and it has helped her to try to continue as normal a life as possible with her husband Mohab and their five-year-old daughter Lindy.
"You have to pull yourself together for your family," she said.
Liz has also been working with charity Rare Cancers Australia and the Canberra Cancer Centre to stage what would be a unique exhibition: a 3D print of real-life tumours, taken from MRI scans. Multiple prints would be made, showing how the tumours react to treatment, and hopefully shrink. It would be a tangible, hold-in-your-hands experience of people's cancer journey, with about 100 people wanting to be involved.
But first she has to focus on her own health.
The planned surgery - a clamshell thoracotomy - will see doctors not only crack open her sternum, but also cut along her chest to the side and possibly up the neck. Due to the size and location of the tumour, there isa chance Elizabeth's left-side diaphragm will be paralysed for the rest of her life.
But the Wright mum is being pragmatic about her future.
She lost her own father when she was 24. His life insurance lapsed just before his shock death. The family was left with nothing and their home was eventually lost as well.
Liz has always had life insurance and is grateful for whatever comes for her husband and daughter.
Her friends, colleagues and family are now working to ensure she can recover post-surgery without worrying about their financial affairs, when she can't work.
A campaign has been set up through Rare Cancers Australia to raise money to help her pay her bills during her recovery.
Proximity chief operating officer Zoe Lynam said her workplace was also right behind her.
"Liz means the world to us and although we are supporting her as much as possible, it would be wonderful to see people in our community - far and wide - find it in their hearts to donate to such a wonderful cause," she said.
Donations can be made at treat.rarecancers.org.au/campaign/2070/helping-liz-pickworth