Donna Penny may have terminal cancer but at her salon, Relish hair she is living her dream.
Donna Penny may have terminal cancer but at her salon, Relish hair she is living her dream. john mccutcheon

Death diagnosis, but Coast mum is happier than ever

A VIRTUAL death certificate has given terminally ill cancer patient Donna Penny the access to her superannuation fund she has been fighting for almost two years to get.

In October last year, Ms Penny's doctor signed paperwork that stated she would most likely die in 12 months.

THIS has allowed the 42-year-old Warana mother to save the family home and see a dream fulfilled - she has purchased a hairdressing salon with her closest friends.

Speaking yesterday from her hospital bed following surgery for a bulging disc, Ms Penny sounded remarkably positive and cheerful as she talked about her new business.

Her fight to gain access to her super after her breast cancer resurfaced made headlines in the Daily and then across the country in July 2013.

Super fund Hesta said at the time it was merely complying with federal legislation that stated the "Terminal Illness Benefit" could be released only when a person had been diagnosed as likely to die in "not more than 12 months after the date of the certification".

Ms Penny said her doctor signed it as "it had been 12 months since I was diagnosed and there was progression".

"He said I will most likely pass in the next 12 months, but he doesn't have a crystal ball," she said.

The money from the super fund has helped the family keep their home and also given Ms Penny the opportunity to buy the salon, reopening this week as Relish Hair MCS, in Karawatha Dr, Mountain Creek.

Her business partners are her two "oldest friends', Rellie Dooley and Donna Jankiwskyj.

"When I got diagnosed we all three had tattoos done on our necks which say the 'power of three' in Spanish," Ms Penny said.

"Even though they know I have got a terminal illness they have been happy to go into business with me."

She also hopes to use the salon, opened only three days ago, to inspire and give advice to women who may be starting the difficult journey.

The cancer that has begun to creep its way into her bones is "stable at the moment".

"I had a scan three months ago and for the first time in 18 months it is stable," Ms Penny said. "I am on a new drug that is keeping the cancer at bay."

She said once she had the note from her doctor, Hesta had no trouble in paying out.

"The super payout helped fund the salon and a big portion of the mortgage," she said. "It has taken the stress off for us - we were so close to having to sell the house.

"I asked them (Hesta) what would happen if I didn't die in 12 months, and they said nothing."

Ms Penny plans to spend a few days a week helping out in reception at the new salon and promoting specials.

This included their opening special. Between now and the end of next month, patrons who purchase one of the salon's services go in a draw to win that service free for 12 months.