My journey started with a very innocuous looking pimple in my ear July 2016. I had always been careful to have any unusual spots checked out by my doctor. I’d spent my youth water skiing and surfing. My GP gave me a referral to a surgeon as the small spot was changing quite quickly.
My first surgery was 7/11/16. The surgeon removed the growth, but it had got to such a size that it needed a skin graft to be created at the back of my ear and pulled through the hole he created.
I was told I had Squamous Cell Carcinoma but, I had no idea how serious it was going to be for me. SCC is supposed to be a very slow developing cancer. It’s rare for it to develop into a serious issue rapidly.
The ear healed except for one small area and by the April 2017 the ear was looking awful again
I felt some lumps in my neck and ear area and went a PET scan to be sure the SCC hadn’t gone deeper into my head. The results showed growths in the neck and ear area, so the surgeon performed what I like to call my “Face Off” operation on 11/5/17. This is major surgery as there can be severe complications when you peel back the skin from half your face and neck. The surgeon removed 24 Lymph Nodes and 11 were cancerous.
I had to heal from this operation before they could start Radiation Therapy which went for 6 weeks and 3 days. The treatments weren’t too bad however, the side effects were very uncomfortable. The skin on my face and neck was severely burned and came off in sheets. The pain was excruciating and I counted the days until it was finished.
New growths developed on my face and chest. I also developed other problems in my hands and back and when I had another growth removed from my chest I was sent for a PET scan of my upper body. This showed I now had cancer in my lungs, liver, and hand.
At Peter Mac Melbourne I was told about trials that were happening for Immunotherapy Treatment. The trials at that time were full but my doctor was hopeful I would be a good candidate to join the trial. This went on for several months but, I deteriorated to such an extent that I needed two walking sticks to get out of bed or a chair.
I had another full body PET scan that showed the cancer was still in the lungs, liver and hand but was now also in my back, kidneys, bones and many other areas. My doctor said I couldn’t wait for a place in the trial, I needed to self-fund my treatment or my prognosis was dire.
The treatments are every three weeks and they aren’t covered by the Government for my type of cancer. My Health fund doesn’t cover any of the $6,005.76 per treatment either. After three treatments the PET scan showed a definite improvement, so I could continue with the treatment.
If I had Melanoma or one of several other forms of cancer, this treatment would be covered by the Government PBS. I’m hoping that my positive response helps to get Immunotherapy Therapy on the PBS so that others with SCC can get the benefit too. It’s not easy asking for help, particularly financial help. We have used all our savings and have redrawn from our Mortgage to cover the cost of the treatments so far. If anyone would like to help I would be very, very grateful.
Once again, I would like to thank all those at Grundfos, Pioneer Pump, my family and friends for your support and encouragement.
Cancer may only be a word but, it’s one that I hope becomes extinct.
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