I am a 50-year-old man living in Warwick, a regional town in Queensland, Australia. I have worked for the past 30 years on our local council as a parks and garden labourer. I am a mad keen sports follower and support the Parramatta Eels in the NRL, North Melbourne Kangaroos in the AFL, Miami Dolphins in the NFL, and Chicago Cubs in the NBL Also, Dick Johnson /Pensci race team in the supa cars, and Tottenham in the EPL, and I have also recently become a 76ers fan in the NBA.
Early in December 2016 I discovered a small lump near my right nipple. I thought I had bumped myself so I didn’t think it was anything to worry about, and it didn’t hurt. But over the Christmas New Year period it started to get a bit sore. So in early January 2017 off I went to visit my local Doctor (DR A Rees) who immediately sent me off for a scan. About 2 days later the results of the scan came back and my doctor worried about the shape of the lump so he sent me for a biopsy in nearby Toowoomba. Two days later I was called into my doctor’s office where he told me the results were back and that it was not good news. It was breast cancer. After giving me a few minutes to take in what he had told me, and to get over the shock, he then went through with me step by step just what laid ahead for me in the next twelve months or more. My doctor knew it was a lot for me to take in at once so he told me to take things one step at a time, and if I had any questions at any time to come in and see him or his nurse. He also told me to always keep my weird sense of humour and also to keep a positive attitude no matter what happens.
I told my doctor I was determined that this terrible disease was not going to get the better of me, and I was going to stay positive and keep my sense of humour.
The next thing I had to do was possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and that was to tell my mum, who had gone through her own battle with breast cancer 27 years ago. I burst into tears but she said she already knew. Mum has been my rock all the way through and I would never have made it through treatment without her. But a bigger shock was on the way for us with my beautiful little sister Kylie being also diagnosed with breast cancer just a week later. This made me more determined to beat this, as I needed to be strong for her as she was to follow me having treatment.
in March, 2017, I made my way to Toowoomba Base Hospital to undergo a mastectomy. The surgeon removed a 2-centimetre tumor and 9 lymph nodes. After an overnight stay in hospital I was allowed to go home and start my recovery from surgery. I returned to Toowoomba Base Hospital to get my test results a week later, found that the margins around where they took the cancer out were really good, but unfortunately one of the 9 nodes they had taken out had come back with cancer in it. This meant I would have to go through 18 weeks of Chemo (six treatments) and 5 weeks of radiation (25 treatments).
About 3 weeks later I had my first of six chemotherapy treatments, and the next day my hair started to fall out. One day later I was completely bald. I had three weeks to recover before the next treatment. After the fourth treatment chemo started to take a heavy toll on my body, causing a lot of pain in both my legs and arms making it hard for me to sleep at any time. It also took a big toll on my immune system. Finally, on the 20 July I had my last chemo treatment. Two days later, at 5am in the morning, I was rushed to hospital with an infection at one stage I didn’t think I was going to make it through the night. But after three days on a drip, I was feeling a whole lot better and was sent home to recover before I could start my radiation treatment. The last week of August I moved to Toowoomba, staying in a small unit across from the hospital, and underwent five weeks of radiation treatment. Every morning, I walked across the road for my treatment, afterwards I would have lunch at the café in the hospital, and then head back to my unit to watch TV for the rest of the day. The next five weeks went very quickly. Apart from some bad burn to my right side chest, and feeling quite tired at times, I was OK and returned to Warwick in early October, 2017. During my treatment of both chemo and radiation in Toowoomba I met so many wonderful people, including my awesome doctors and nurses and also some wonderful cancer patients who had some very interesting stories to tell me.
I went back to my radiation specialist on the first week of November, and he said all was going well and I didn’t have come go back for six months. The day after I finished my radiation treatment it was off to the oncologist for a prescription for Tamoxifen, a tablet which I have to take once a day for the next five years. I took this as a positive as I assumed it meant that he thought I was going to live for another five years, at least. I had a fairly quiet time leading to Christmas, recovering from all the treatments, and had a wonderful time with family and friends.
Early in 2018 I had two scans done. The results came back very positive and I have also had physio on my right arm to help regain movement and strength as the doctor had to cut some pectoral muscles to get rid of the cancer. I have also started a 12-week fitness program for cancer survivors at my local YMCA. I hope this will help me to return to work to work in the next six months or so.
Throughout my journey I have been able to keep all my wonderful family and friends up to date by sharing every step of my journey on Facebook with them. I also received some wonderful messages of love from them, which kept me going through the good and bad times. Also, I would like you to know that my sister has successfully completed all of her treatments and is also doing well. If anyone wants to contact me and ask me questions about my treatment, you can contact me on my email address. Looking forward to a great future!