Hello I am a 26 year old young man and I have been diagnosed with cancer twice in my life, and have been dealing with secondaries in my abdomen, liver and lungs for the last two years. I have had a lot of chemo and surgeries to bring me to a point in my life which I am now where I can look towards the future.
However I have one last hurdle, after surgery to remove a tumour from my abdomen near my spine and seperate surgery to remove a tumour from my liver, I am left with abdomen muscles which haven't been properly reattached, and buldge in ways which combined with large thick scars make it impossbile to move on with life, and not remember the months in hospital fighting cancer each time I look at my abdomen.
Please read 'My Cancer Story', a recount of my cancer fight which is attached below.
I have had many many medical bills since the first time I was diagnosed at 18 years old with cancer, and especialy over the last two years with my most recent fight.
Hopefully this reconstructive surgery will be the last one, however it will be $3,800 and I would really greatly appreciate your help in covering some of my costs please.
I really appreciate your financial help and appreciate you taking the time to read my cancer story.
Thank you :-)
‘MY CANCER STORY’ – By Daniel Margariti
My name is Daniel Margariti and I am many things; a family member, a university graduate, an enthusiastic world traveller, a passionate volunteer and the most poignantly a cancer survivor.
Family is very important to me, as I am the proud son of Mirella and Bruno Margariti; brother to Chiara, Nicholas, Pete; loving uncle to Aria and appreciative grandson of Nonna Ada, Nonno Nick and Nonna Rosa. All my immediate and extended family, along with my closest friends give me so much love and strength that has helped me face the obstacles in my life, and I can never fully convey just how thankful I am to all of them.
Some of the major obstacles I speak of are the two serious attacks of testicular cancer. The first being back in 2009, only weeks after my 18th birthday I was rushed to the emergency room with pain and swelling of one of my testicles. I had ignored the symptoms of discomfort and pain in my groin for some time. Like most 18 year olds I was too busy focusing on socialising, two part-time jobs and university to really appreciate the frailty of life. I did not understand the prevalence of youth cancers, or know the facts that “testicular cancer is… the most commonly diagnosed cancer after skin cancer in males aged 18-39” (cancercouncil.com.au); and that “non-seminoma testicular cancer is… more common in younger males, usually in their 20’s” (betterhealth.vic.gov.au).
Being diagnosed with testicular cancer for the first time as a young adult was very difficult, my world was flipped upside-down and put on hold, with work being stopped, university being deferred and treatments taking their toll. As the cancer had not moved into secondary areas yet, I was fortunate enough to only require one surgery to remove the original cancer sight, which “in almost all cases (approximately 800 testicular cancer patients each year) an orchidectomy is done to remove the affected testicle” (cancercoucil.com.au). As I ignored the symptoms the cancer was not detected as early as possible, therefore I required BEP chemotherapy with three rounds of week-long treatments in hospital and three rounds of day treatments. Losing my hair and weight fluctuations were some of the outward physical effects of my treatments, but the way I viewed life had been effected forever.
After my first bout with cancer I went back with determination to finish my Bachelor of Business and Commerce at Monash University, and was awarded with being the Best Student In The Marketing Major in my final year. My new perspective of life lead me to volunteering with Riding Develops Abilities, a charity supporting children with physical and mental disabilities. I was compelled to go make the most of my life and this lead me to go volunteer in Africa. After university, I went on to spend time volunteering in an orphanage in Tanzania, where in a makeshift class room we taught english and math. However, the most meaningful time was when the kids read with me the children’s books I brought from Australia for them. Also seeing how much they appreciated the care of another person and not only the simple gifts, but also the simplest things in life made them happy.
A passion for life and travel was inspired from that point, I went on to travel throughout Africa, Europe, North and South America that year and took time to realise my dream of studying Italian in Italy for a month. The next two years consisted of making the most of life travelling across South East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and volunteering as much as I could with children of refugee families and especially with the disadvantaged in my own community, helping at Corner Stone - a contact centre and food service for the poor.
I always wanted to live and work in Italy so in May 2015 I took the leap and went to live in Southern Italy. After several amazing months working in Sicily at a bed and breakfast along the beach, I was the passenger in a car accident on the island of Lipari. Intense backpain came on and after several weeks of seeing various doctors in Italy and the pain worsening, I was forced to return back to Australia in August 2015. Immediately I got an MRI and saw various pain specialists, they continuously miss diagnosed it as simply nerve pain and prescribed stronger and stronger painkillers. After several months of seeing different specialists and trying different treatments I was seeing no improvement and I started to have pain in my abdomen. I started to have no desire to eat and I noticeably lost weight.
One morning I woke up struggling to breath as it felt like my whole chest was in spasm, I was rushed to emergency at The Valley Hospital and they discovered I had fluid in my lungs caused by 7 tumours across both lungs, along with a tumour in my liver and a large tumour the size of a fist in the back of my abdomen near my spine. This large tumour was determined to be the cause of all the backpain however it was not picked up in the various scans as they were checking for muscular damage lower down the spine. An MRI of the entire body including the brain was performed in emergency and luckily it had not reached the brain; as it possible with late stage testicular cancer that it starts in the testicles with secondaries forming in the abdomen, kidneys, liver, lungs and eventually the brain.
I was transferred across to Cabrini Hospital to start chemotherapy, however the oncology doctors were unsure what type of treatment to use as they had not seen the particular type of blood markers in a patient with my medical history before. After various oncologists across the country shared their opinions on what ‘could’ work the group of doctors decided that they would give me the strongest dose of chemotherapy they could and hope for the best. Two days into the first round of chemotherapy I had a serious complication and my liver started to bleed out as the tumours changed. I suddenly collapsed and a MET call for all the nearby doctors in the ward to rush to my aid was sounded. I woke up in Intensive Care not being able to move, after losing a lot of blood and requiring emergency liver embolization to stop the bleeding and blood transfusions. After being stabilized I was returned back to the ward the next day to continue with the first round of chemotherapy.
The first round of chemotherapy started to show promise as my blood tumour markers started to rise then fall as hoped. However after only being home out of hospital for two days I was rushed back to emergency with a high fever. It took ten days on various IV antibiotics to bring down the fever, but by that time I was already meant to be starting my second round of chemotherapy. So I then spent another week in hospital, luckily this time there were minimal complications. Although at this time my hair and eyebrows had already started falling out and I was pretty much bald, luckily I have a round head that doesn’t look that bad bald.
Just before Christmas 2015 I was accepted into a stem cell transplant trial at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. As at any time my oncologists thought the chemotherapy I was having might stop being effective, and that stem cell replacement therapy might be the last option available to me. The stem cell retrieval process entailed spending all day attached to a machine with a series of tubes in each arm to filter out the stem cells from the blood, and store them in order to restart the body’s immune system after extreme doses of chemicals to hopefully kill the cancer as a last resort treatment.
New Year’s Eve 2015 I spent watching the fireworks explode over the city with my parents and siblings in a Cabrini Hospital wardroom and we celebrated the arrival of good news with the new year, as the third round of chemotherapy was effective in dramatically reducing the blood tumour markers. Likewise the fourth round of chemotherapy was effective and the blood tumour markers eventually reduced to a normal range, which was the news we had been waiting for and finally received in February 2016.
I was still left with what they presumed were dead tumours in the abdomen, liver and lungs. I spent nine days in hospital post surgery to remove the tumour in my abdomen, due to the large size of the tumour and the complexity of the surgery as the tumour was wrapped around the aorta artery. The chemotherapy had caused the tumour to melt into the surrounding tissue and nerves, as a result the surgeon had said it was one of the hardest surgeries he ever performed. The biopsy showed that the testicular cancer cells had all been killed by the chemotherapy, but there was a previously undetected cancer called a teratoma present which could have grown side by side with the other testicular cancer.
After a long, painful recovery from the abdomen surgery the specialists through it was best to remove what was left of the presumed dead tumour in the liver, as the size approximately 5cm around could possibly house some living cancer cells at its core. The surgery went as planned, removing 25% of my liver along with my gallbladder. However even after eight days in hospital I still needed to return to emergency as the wound opened up and became infected. Every couple days we returned back to the hospital for cleaning and redressing of the wound, which took a lot longer than expected to heal and recover from. Luckily the biopsy showed that the chemotherapy killed all the cancer cells in the liver.
The tumours that were left in my lungs were presumed to be dead and based on the biopsy of the liver the specialists decided to watch and see over a few months if the body would naturally clear the dead tumours by itself. The body started to reduce the size of some of the dead tumours and we carefully watched and waited, however the largest of the dead tumours was not reducing enough for the specialists to confidently presume it was all clear of dead cancer cells at its core. Consequently after months of indecisiveness as they were concerned about unnecessarily reducing my already lower than normal lung capacity, the decision was made to operate on the right lung, as the risk of leaving the presumed dead tumour was too high.
However my father had started to have heart complications and doctors discovered that he required open-heart surgery to bypass five arteries. The bypass surgery would require several months to recover and I wanted to help my father while he was in hospital and while in recovery just as he helped me. Therefore the surgery on my right lung was performed once he was back to strength, as our family are always there for each other in and out of hospital.
The surgery to remove the bottom third of my right lung and reduce my lung capacity to approximately 55-45% went well with no clear complications at the time. However, a week later I was rushed from the GP via ambulance to Cabrini Hospital emergency with a fever and presumed lung infection. After a week of IV antibiotics the conclusion was made that I was the 1-2% who get a post-surgery infection in the chest cavity, and the decision was made that I needed to be reoperated on to remove the infected fluid that was slowly suffocating me.
I was in hospital attached to a machine on IV antibiotics day and night for three weeks, this was on top of the week in hospital just previous for the actual lung surgery on the bottom right lobe. During the three weeks of IV antibiotics I developed sudden acute renal failure, due to an unexpected allergy to all penicillins and my kidneys rapidly shutdown. As a result, the high painkillers for my tumour related chromic backpain (which I’m still currently taking twice daily for more than a year and a half), started to build up and I passed out. Over two days I struggled to stay conscious, as the team of various doctors developed a different mix of drugs which would allow my kidneys to very slowly but surely recover.
Since the lung surgeries I have been recovering well, however the two surgeries, infection and long course of IV antibiotics and six weeks of antibiotic tablets, on top of the already reduced lung capacity has left me with even further reduced lung capacity, less than 49%. As a result I struggle catching my breath with most activities and with humid weather I struggle even more so. The specialists are still watching the four presumed dead tumours in my left lung closely, despite the biopsy of the tumours in the right lung showing no active testicular cancer. The reason for the concern is due to one of the removed tumours having been found to have active lung cancer cells, which are supposedly unrelated to the original testicular cancer. These surprising findings combined with my reduced breathing capacity mean, that as long as my blood tumour markers and scans stay unchanged we will have to carefully watch and hope for the best and get on with making the most of life.
If you or anyone you know are unsure about anything, please get it checked! See your doctor and if you still aren’t satisfied question it and see other doctors, because your health is in your hands!
After unfortunately discovering a lack of support for young people, I have started a support group for young people 18 to 30 dealing with cancer, called the Young Adult Cancer Support (Y.A.C.S) group. Please find my support group page on facebook and help spread the word and raise awareness of the prevalence of youth cancers.
Thank you for reading my cancer story.
And THANK YOU so much for your donations :-)