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Cathi sold the family home to travel before her husband dies. Now she’s fighting for life

When grandparents Cathi and Tim Tibbs sold their family home and packed up their life into a motorhome, they had grand plans to travel the country and enjoy the splendor of the great outdoors.

Together for 46 years, the high school sweethearts wanted to squeeze every opportunity out of life before Tim succumbs to his battle against an inoperable brain tumor.

But their love-struck adventures ended in a frantic trip to the hospital when Cathi’s health took a dire turn.

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Now she’s battling stage four bowel cancer. Her devastated family of her had no idea she was even sick.

Highschool sweethearts Tim and Cathi Tibbs have been together for 46 years. Credit: Supplied

“I haven’t seen her since March when she left on her trip,” daughter Jessica told

“It’s heartbreaking, I’m scared she won’t make it.”

On the open road

With a love story straight from a movie script, Cathi and Tim are the picture of a life-long happy marriage.

“Mum is his first true love, the only person he’s ever been with,” Jessica said.

“They are beautiful people, they would help anyone, they’re not selfish in any way.

“They complement each other perfectly and always put family first.”

The NSW couple’s world came crashing down when Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010.

“He had it removed, but it grew back a few years later,” Jessica said.

“It’s not cancerous but it will kill him, we just don’t know when.”

Keen travelers Tim and Cathi Tibbs packed up their lives into a motorhome to make some more memories - then Cathi's health began to rapidly deteriorate.
Keen travelers Tim and Cathi Tibbs packed up their lives into a motorhome to make some more memories – then Cathi’s health began to rapidly deteriorate. Credit: Supplied

Rather than dread the devastation that is to come, the grandparents decided to seize the now – selling their family home and packing up their world into their new life on wheels.

“They sold their house a few years ago just before COVID and bought a motorhome because they wanted to travel while Dad could,” Jessica said, recalling her parents’ love of exploring.

The couple documents their adventures via a private Facebook group, sharing photos and travel diaries to keep their loved ones updated.

Interstate restrictions grounded the great adventure for a while, but Jessica says her parents were back on the road in March, eager to make more memories.

Stopped in their tracks

Tragedy struck when the couple arrived in Western Australia in mid-April and Cathi’s health began to rapidly decline.

They thought it was gallstones, but the truth was much more devastating.

“We thought it was just her gallbladder as that had been playing up for the last few years, no one had any idea she was sick,” Jessica said.

Tim rushed Cathi to hospital in Norseman, a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region, where she was then transferred by ambulance to Kalgoorlie, while her devoted husband traveled the 190km behind in the motorhome.

“She was so unwell, she was spewing and could hardly breathe… people had to help her out of the motorhome,” Jessica said.

The family had no idea Cathi was sick.  Now she's fighting for life with stage four bowel cancer.
The family had no idea Cathi was sick. Now she’s fighting for life with stage four bowel cancer. Credit: Supplied

Cathi was then flown to Perth, where she was admitted to intensive care and told she was critical and her organs were shutting down.

“I waited hours to hear anything, it was so stressful,” Jessica said.

“I spoke to Mum the day before and she seemed OK, they were just resting. We had no idea.”

Cathi’s condition was anything but OK.

Jessica said doctors told her sister there was just a 10 per cent chance their mother would pull through.

“She lost half of her intestines, they took a mass off her bowel,” Jessica said.

“We got the results last week and it was cancerous … I got told last night last night it was stage four.”

clinging to hope

Cathi’s fight for survival has only just begun and her family has one wish: “We just want her home.”

“She can’t have treatment for chemo until she gets back to NSW,” Jessica said, “but we don’t know when she will be well enough.”

Jessica’s voice shook as she recalled Cathi sending her Dad and sister back to NSW so she could “focus on getting better without worrying about them”.

“I’m terrified. I’m scared she’s done that because she somehow knows she’s not coming home,” she said.

“She’s not even 10 per cent of what she normally is health-wise and personality.”

The Tibbs family just want to see Cathi beam her beautiful smile at home, helping the grandparents’ moving love story continue.

“Dad is the softest-hearted person ever and Mum is strong-willed but she has a soft heart too,” Jessica said.

“We need her home.”

The family wants to transfer Cathi to a NSW hospital, but Jessica said they were told she needs to be accompanied by a medical team, which would set them back about $10,000.

Jessica has launched a fundraiser to bring her mother home so she can start treatment.

“Please help this love story continue,” she said.


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