cancer: Colorectal cancer
Date Diagnosed: 2018
Location: New South Wales
Hello there My name is Gavin, 43 married with two amazing daughters 13, 10.
In February 2018 I was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer, a major surprise to myself family and friends. I was age 41 ,very fit active healthy lifestyle with no health issues at all prior to this. My symptoms where at the time weight loss, bad fatigue, stomach issues and bowel problems such as constipation diarrhoea to the point where I had no control of my bowel or rectum ( which at times was quite embarrassing) and a little blood in the toilet from time to time.
After several visits to my local GP and no results I demanded a referral to see a Specialist, knowing my own body and that something was not right. After a quick conversation he said something just doesn’t add up, and I need you upstairs ASAP for a camera so we can see what is going on.
And that’s when I met my Colorectal Specialist. A lovely bloke considering the situation, who was surprised at the size of my tumour, but he told me I was in good hands and he would take care of me.
WOW , I thought could this be a dream? Surely this isn’t happening to me!
So I started radiation and heavy chemo for 6 weeks. After this it was scan time where we discovered that not much had changed at all. To help with the pain it was decided surgery would be in March for a permanent colostomy. Surgery went well and recovery was drama free, until my next scan when it was detected in my Liver. More treatment or 'chemical warfare' as I call it and after weeks of treatment and no change to my cancer, an appointment was made to see a liver specialist and more surgery was booked.
In July 2018, I had 60% of my liver removed. Once again surgery was a success and recovery good until the next scan. The results from this nearly pushed me over the edge. It was now attacking my pelvic area!
I could not believe this was happening to me, my family, my children and my life but all the time staying positive, active and as healthy as I could be.
I was passed on to a Professor as my case is complicated and it is an aggressive cancer. We discussed the next step and in October 2018 a whole pelvic exoneration was performed with the added bonus of my tail bone being shaved (OUCH). I was now trying to deal with the two bags - colostomy and Urostomy, my lifesavers and funny enough I took to them quite well knowing I could still live life with just a minor adjustment. I have never let them hold me back. Besides all the extra surgeries due to treatment and other complications along the way (15 surgeries in two years so far) things were OK, I guess.
Living with my new disability, not working and then getting told I was terminal, my family and I try to live as normal as possible. I spend my time surfing on the Jetski, loving life and making memories with my supportive family and friends. The rest of my time is spent dealing with home TPN for months, wound vacs and everything else that goes on when dealing with cancer.
At my next scan and now with the professors, I found out the cancer is now in my lungs. Far out, will I ever get a break? And all this from my primary tumour.
In November 2019, I had a keyhole lobectomy on my right lung and the plan was that after I recovered the same procedure would be performed on the left lung. The plan never made it and three months later it was back at the surgery sight and all future surgeries were put on hold. I am now preparing to start some sort of treatment again designed for my cancer at The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Fingers crossed 🤞
This is my journey to date. It’s been a very tiring, tough time over the last two years for everyone involved. I have so much love and appreciation for the medical team behind me and everyone in the health industry who always go above and beyond for us fighters, also the many support groups out there such as Cancer Warrior Australia when at times we think we are alone.
Although they say I am defining the odds and should not be here I’m a Warrior, a Cancer Warrior, a fighter and one thing I do know is "I will never give up, I will never surrender!". You have messed with the wrong person here cancer. As you continually try to stop me, I do my best to smile, have fun and live life and to me that’s living.
It’s not over until I say it’s over!