On 24 January 2010, The Sunday Mail in Queensland ran an article on celebrity health; I was going to turn the page until I saw Lara Bingle in a bikini!
Being a true Aussie bloke, I decided the article needed a closer look and found myself reading a genuinely interesting story.
In 2004, I had experienced a serious change in bowel habits and occasional stomach pains but, like many, I just put it down to work stress. I would also feel very tired and shaky and get the sweats after only a couple of hours work in the garden.
But it wasn’t until I had some very bad stomach cramps, and the wife nagging, that in January 2006 that I finally had a colonoscopy, which revealed a large obstruction approximately 8ins long and blocking the bowel – a Grade 4 tumour on the lower bowel/rectum. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 18 January 2006 at the age of 53, and given only three or four weeks to live! And on top on that, when I told my boss, my contract was terminated immediately!!
I was stunned, but determined to beat the odds and fight it all the way. I’ve outlived the doctor’s many predictions and will continue to do so.
But at first, I really had no idea of what to expect. My wife, our two daughters, my 80-year-old parents and even my extended family and friends were now on a massive journey of discovery about hospitals, doctors and specialists, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, psychiatrists, dieticians, social workers, Oncology, etc. etc. The list was endless.
From the very beginning we decided as a family to look on the bright side, to be positive, to give each other lots of love and cuddles and to have a great deal of fun. We laughed a lot, made sure we had only kind words to say, and always looked for the silver lining. We used humour and laughter as tools to lessen the seriousness of my illness, and reduce the tension and stress surrounding it.
Since my diagnosis, I have had an ileostomy (February 2006), a tumour removal (March 2006), an abscess removal (April 2006) and a liver resection (November 2006). I have had several forms and types of chemotherapy (intravenously and now in tablet form) and 10 radiotherapy treatments. During this time, I was also diagnosed with a liver tumour, which was luckily caught early and surgically removed. I had a satellite embolism, now that nearly did kill me! Right now, I have seven small tumours in my lungs (diagnosed June 2007), and I am still defying the doctors. I’m the “epitome of positive thinking” say’s my GP.
All I can say is that life is pretty good right now and I aim to keep it that way, but, I’ll always remember how sick I was, those who helped me along the way, and the people I met. My wife and I have jumped many a hurdle, but we did it together and we came out smiling. Has cancer stopped me? It has certainly slowed me down at times, but it hasn’t beaten me. Yeah! Sure, I’m not cured – I still have those small tumours on my lungs but they are under control and they’re going to stay that way! Think positive all the time and have a laugh.