High flyer's cancer diagnosis ‘came as a total shock’
THROUGH the pain of her cancer Bernice Perry is still able to crack a smile - having a clown as a husband helps.
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October last year former juggler and acrobat Mrs Perry, of the Perry Bros Circus family, has spent a lifetime entertaining with her death-defying feats as a travelling show woman.
For years, Bernice and husband Robert travelled Australia with the famous circus troupe entertaining crowds with their stunts.
Now at 77 she will be taking on her biggest feat yet, a battle with stage four ovarian cancer and major surgery today.
"I have been healthy all my life, always active when we were on the road or not," Mrs Perry told the Bulletin.
"The whole thing came as a shock. I've survived so much in my lifetime so to be struck like this out of the blue was a surprise."
Still an active entertainer, she had been making fairyfloss at a local show when she felt her first pang of pain.
"I thought it was my back," she said.
"I went to the doctor the next day and I was diagnosed within 24 hours - there was no indication of anything.
"I want to make sure others know how fast it can creep up on you."
The family circus goes back to late 1800s where they owned a halfway hotel near Tambo.
In the 1820s the circus travelled with a Tasmanian tiger, and in 1993 it starred as Dreamworld's main attraction.
Mrs Perry admits the thing she misses most about leaving her circus life is her entertainment family.
"We were so close knit. I loved every moment of it, saw everything I could. I wouldn't have traded the lifestyle for the world," she said.
"I loved being in the show as much as I loved being on the side helping in the kitchens.
"If you had trouble or got sick of something you could pack up and leave."
Mrs Perry said her husband had helped her survive the 23 rounds of chemo over the past six months at the Gold Coast University Hospital.
"He was a clown, he is always joking about everything."
Mr Perry, who had been married to Mrs Perry for 56 years, said he had dubbed himself her "sugar daddy".
"Well, I gave her a fairy floss machine, didn't I?"
Optimistic about the future, Mrs Perry said she hoped to get through her next daring feat with the luck that had followed her for most of her life.
"It's always been an adventure. I guess this is the next chapter."