'I am scared of not knowing': Layla's heartbreaking letter

LAYLA Hooper will be remembered for her beautiful smile and kind heart.

Hundreds of people packed Christian Outreach Church today to farewell the brave 22-year-old who lost her battle with ovarian cancer on November 11.

Her funeral was a celebration of her life, with people dressed in pastel colours.

Ms Hooper fought stage-three ovarian cancer for five years, since she was diagnosed at just 17.

She was able to celebrate her 18th birthday cancer-free but tragically it returned shortly after.

Ms Hooper took oral tablets for two years which was shrinking the cancer, but they, too, failed and her illness became terminal in June.

Layla Hooper passed away from ovarian cancer on Nov 11.
Layla Hooper passed away from ovarian cancer on Nov 11.

Despite being dealt a difficult card, Ms Hooper always remained positive - not letting cancer define her.

Family and friends who spoke at the service all agreed it was her bubbly personality and her never-give-up attitude that kept her and those around her strong.

Her uncle Daryl Dohcherty directed the ceremony and spoke about the highs and lows of Ms Hooper's life.

Her mum Sallyann Hall said her daughter always lived life to the fullest.

"She was always so kind, looking out for others especially her nieces and nephews. She loved her family - it meant so much to her," she said.

"She was the wild one out of all our children and loved having fun and partying."

When she found out her illness was terminal her family started a bucket list to give her something to look forward to.

Her Mycause page raised more than $8000 from people who wanted to help her achieve her dreams.

First on her list was to go to State of Origin which she was able to do in June.

Uncle and Godfather Daryl Docherty speaking at the funeral service for Layla Hooper.
Uncle and Godfather Daryl Docherty speaking at the funeral service for Layla Hooper. Bev Lacey

She was also able to tick off going to Australia Zoo, spending time at the beach with her family at Harvey Bay, go on the Wheel of Brisbane, eat dinner with friends and family on the Brisbane River Cruise and participate in a Marie Claire photo shoot.

"I know doing all those things made Layla's last months enjoyable," Ms Hall said.

"Rather than sitting at home letting the cancer consume her, she was able to build memories with family and friends

"She always wanted to be treated normally and enjoy life. She made sure cancer didn't rule her life. She barely even spoke to her friends about it.

"As well as wanting to be treated normally she also didn't want to burden anyone with worry."

Ms Hooper wrote a letter detailing her experience and thoughts shortly before she passed away in a bid to explain to people what she went through - not so people would feel sad for her but to raise awareness of the disease.

Her cousin Angel Marie Hooper-Hazard read the letter at the service.

Although the letter details the difficult times Ms Hooper endured, it also shows her strength, courage and humour.

Reading a letter written by Layla, cousin Angel Marie Hooper-Hazard and Kailem Hooper-Hazard.
Reading a letter written by Layla, cousin Angel Marie Hooper-Hazard and Kailem Hooper-Hazard. Bev Lacey
  • Layla's letter

 This is probably the first time I've come out and actually talked about my condition.

It is a very scary thing to go through. I've been dealing with it since I was 17.

I've had to go through things only women in their 50s and 60s should go through. I guess I've accepted what happened, just not what is going to happen.

Continuous IV drugs, blood and platelet transfusions, morphine pain relief ... At one point I was taking up to seven tablets a day plus having to stomach disgusting tasting medication.

Not fun especially when you're having trouble eating a decent meal - that's the worst lol. I haven't had KFC or Maccas since the start of the year.

I'd like everyone to keep sharing my story.

Layla Hooper died after a battle with ovarian cancer
Layla Hooper died after a battle with ovarian cancer

I had no symptoms for ovarian cancer but because I'm so skinny there was a visible lump which turned out to be a 14cm tumour on my ovary which ended up being cut out.

I was devastated at first but also thankful to be alive and focused on the fight I had ahead of me.

With support of my family I finished chemotherapy a week prior to my 18th birthday and was lucky to be cancer free for eight whole months.

So there I was, what felt like being normal again, with a whole new world in front of me being legal. 

That was until at a regular blood test follow up. It showed my CA125 levels were elevated which was an indicator of the cancer having returned.

Unfortunately that was correct and it had returned in my spleen, bowel and small spots in other areas.   I'm in yet for another fight. It was easy enough the first time - I'll be fine, I thought.

Visiting my specialist I was told I'll be starting another round of chemotherapy but that failed to see a change in the growth. So I changed to another, then a trail drug which was oral. Third time I got all the worst side effects from the drugs and only to find out none of them were working to kill the disease.

I kept optimistic and positive throughout it all. I wasn't going to give up.

Throughout all of this my family and I suddenly lost my 24-year-old brother due to a workplace accident.   But we pushed on.

Layla Hooper
Layla Hooper

Lastly I was put on Letrozole. We were super excited to find out it was shrinking the cancer slowly. I was beyond pleased.

I lived the next few years in my eyes as normal. 

We were doing great, I was doing great. Great family, brilliants friends, a good job.

Except for the little blood transfusions here and an endoscopy there, there was nothing really to complain about in life from where I was standing.

That was until this year, I ended up in hospital with excruciating stomach pain and this continued to happen over the next few months. I spent a lot of time in hospital.

They finally found the culprit. The cancer had grown and was pushing on certain organs in my body (not cool).

So here I am having yet another round of chemotherapy and getting told that isn't working.

I lost about 15kg. I definitely don't feel beautiful any more. I was having daily breakdowns because of what I had to go through every day.

Layla Hooper.
Layla Hooper.

 It doesn't get better, you just find other things to have your mind on.

I know it is scary. It is scary for me. It is scary for my family members.

Staying positive has helped, being thankful every day, thinking you have to keep on fighting.

Sharing stores like this and awareness goes a long way. So all I ask is make a donation and share my story. This disease doesn't just effect older woman and cancer does not discriminate.

Yeah I am scared of not knowing what is next but I've got to keep trying and never give up fighting.

What if it was your sister, daughter or mother?

For more information or to donate click here.


Topics:  cancer editors picks funeral toowoomba

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