Anthony's Battle with Bowel Cancer
One of the things my mother taught me was to never give up. She showed me this first hand whilst she battled with cancer for over nine years. She was initially given three years to live. She sure showed strength and courage during that time. Little did I know how much I would need to draw on that many years later until a few weeks ago..
Very recently, on her birthday, I was told I had my own battle to fight. At the age of 35, I have been diagnosed with Stage-three bowel cancer.
I have lived an extremely healthy life and I am hoping my health will be an asset to my survival through beating this cancer. I love training and pushing my body to new levels of fitness. Just recently, I ranked the highest male member in the 2016 CrossFit games open, something which I am really proud of.
I thrive on the physical nature of my job as a mechanic. I have worked on cars for as long as I can remember.
I also love getting out on my boat and catching all kinds of fish from Flathead to Mako shark or Tuna.
I have worked hard to look after and provide for my three children (aged 6, 11 and 13) and have a beautiful partner who is by my side every step of the way. My children need their dad as all children do, and this is why I am going to fight like I've never fought before.
So as my battle begins, I aim to keep my life as 'normal' as possible. I will need to keep going to the gym and do what I can manage in there. I need to keep fishing and to keep my hands busy at work. Continuing with these things will help me to keep my sanity.
So as my friends and family find out my news, and are just as shocked as I am, they have asked if they can do anything to help. I am unsure of just how costly the next chapter will be, but I would be grateful for any financial support. I don't accept help lightly, but I know that I have too much to loose if I don't accept the help that is being offered to me.
I will be treated using radiation, chemotherapy and finally surgery to remove part of my bowel. The treatment will mean that I am unable to work for periods of time. I will have medical expenses and appointments and tests (lots of tests) and numerous other financial commitments that will pop up along the way.
I feel very humbled to have such amazing support from the team at CFG who have set this campaign up for me and cannot thank each of you enough.
I will make my mum proud and I will beat this cancer with your help.
Clifton Springs, Victoria 3222
The surgery to remove the lumps from my right lung was a success. They were able to go in through my back, remove part of my rib (permanently) and cut out the cancer.
I spent a week in hospital - I felt like the youngest patient in the thoracic ward by decades!
After fighting an infection along the new scar and monitoring fluid on my lungs, things started to improve.
Recovery was hard and even now I struggle with some things. I have less lung capacity and can feel that my right lung fills up before my left. I have pretty intense pain along the rib they partially removed and can now tell if a cold weather front is coming through as it aches like crazy!
I have not been able to return to work full time and I fatigue very easily with the few days I am at work.
I haven’t been able to return to the gym yet either and I miss my friends and the way my body used to feel.
The recovery from my ileostomy reversal is still a struggle (over twelve months on) as things have definitely not returned to ‘normal’. This is a daily battle and is physically and mentally draining.
My life has certainly changed since that initial diagnosis two and a half years ago. It sure puts life into perspective and makes you realise that life is short and should be lived with no regrets.
So that brings us to my recent surveillance scan - The first scan since they removed it from my lung. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be good news. They have found another lump, this time it is in my left lung.
We are currently in the middle of appointments and tests to determine the best way forward. Things have not moved as quickly as last time as they need to ensure that they preserve as much lung function as they can. It seems the Dr’s are preparing for it to return again and want to make sure I have the best chance if it does.
I have two options to consider.
1. They surgically remove the cancer - like last time. This means a long recovery, further reduction to my lung capacity and a pretty intense surgery. It means that cancer is 100% removed from my body.
2. They use Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT). This means several sessions of high intensity radiation. This has an 80% chance of removing the cancer.
So, whilst the specialists discuss my case and create an action plan, Jordy and I wait.
A massive thank you to everyone for your support. Your messages and well wishes are always a huge comfort.
I wish I had posted an update then and we all could have celebrated the achievement.
I will now fill in the gaps...
I was given the all clear early 2017 and had high hopes for putting this behind me. I was booked for the reversal of the ileostomy in March and although it was a huge positive to have resumed ‘normal’ bowel functions - it was a very different kind of ‘normal’. I am still trying to adjust to my new normal even now.
Then, later in the year they discovered some benign polyps in my bowel. A little stressful at the time, but we were reassured with consistent monitoring they wouldn’t become a problem.
I have been able to return to work but I haven’t yet been able to attend the gym. I really do miss the comrade and physical/mental support from my Crossfit family. Even going fishing now has its difficulties.
I have been in quite a lot of pain day to day and still haven’t figured out a lifestyle that allows me any kind of ‘normal’ functioning.
Due to this pain my surgeon requested that my routine 12 month surveillance CT scan be brought forward. And here we are...
January 2018. Two years from the first sign of bowel cancer. 1 year cancer free.
The CT, and subsequent PET scan have revealed that I do not have any cancer in my bowel. But, I unfortunately have two cancerous lumps in my right lung.
They believe that the bowel cancer has metastisized and that the 6 months of chemo I did to stop it from spreading hasn’t seem to have worked.
I have been booked for surgery on Wednesday where they plan to remove part of my lung. Things have moved very quickly and I am appreciative of the medical care and efficiency they have shown me.
I am definitely shaken by this new diagnosis and haven’t had a lot of time to digest it but with so much support around me I know I will be fine.
Jordy and I would like to thank you all as you continue on this journey with us.
I have now passed the halfway point in my second chemotherapy regime!
The happy part relates to an extremely successful surgery where they where able to remove the visible cancer. Everything went well and they were also able to give me a temporary stoma (rather than a permanent colostomy bag). It was all done laparoscopically, so there is no major abdominal incision. I was discharged from hospital within five days, which is great considering the operation took eight hours. Apart from a small setback that had me re-admitted to hospital on the weekend with a bowel blockage, I am feeling quite good.
Now for the unhappy part...
I have just seen the oncologist who has informed me that although they removed all of the visible cancer during the surgery, the pathology shows that there was still live cancer even after the initial 6 weeks of chemo and radiation. The cancer had also broken through the rectal wall and so they are worried about it spreading. This means that they have encouraged me to complete a 6 month chemotherapy regime. They have no research available to say whether this will have any impact or no impact at all. It will involve attaching an IV chemo line for 5-7 hours in hospital, then attaching the chemo bottle (like last time) and going home with it for 2 days, then going back in to take it off. They then repeat this fortnightly for 24 weeks.
This chemo is ranked 8/10 on the 'yuck' scale and has some more notable side effects as oppose to the 3/10 chemo I had previously.
Next week I have to get another port put in, as my body rejected the last one and it was removed.
I was expecting and had prepared for more chemotherapy but I had anticipated 6 weeks like last time, not 6 months.
This means that I will have to take a considerable amount of time off work again.
As I am recovering from surgery, I am currently off work and will be for another 6-8 weeks. Adding the time for fortnightly chemo treatment and recovery will decrease my ability to work until next year.
The money that has been raised has already been a huge life saver and I am so grateful for the support. Simple financial responsibilities combined with new medical expenses have been kept under control with everyone's help. Thank you so much.
Although this news has upset me, I will continue to push on and keep doing as many normal activities as I can.