Roy's Medical & CJ's Life Expenses

Last week I walked in to the doctors surgery feeling unwell, and when I walked out, it was with the diagnosis of terminal cancer: stage 4. I was told I had less than 12 months to live.

My name is Roy Austen. I am 63 years old and the sole carer of my 11 year old son CJ and our two beautiful ragdoll cats Fluffy and Gizmo.

Photography is my passion and I have been in the industry for over 40 years.

11 years ago my son was born. I was  running a successful photographic studio in the city; but that didn’t last.
I had no option but to cut back on work to enable me to care for CJ. This led to an obvious reduction in income and eventual closure of the business.

I don’t ever regret the decision I made to care for my son as he has brought me more joy than I could have imagined. He is a very quiet yet happy little boy, who loves school and has a great group of friends.

It would have been just over 2 years when I noticed that certain foods reacted with me and I wasn't able to keep them down.  It was suggested that I had Eosinophilic Esophagitis which is an inflammatory condition of the esophagus. The major symptom in adults is dysphagia - problems swallowing solid food.

Over the next 18 months it continued to worsen with me ending up on a liquid diet to survive, and in the process I lost a huge amount of weight. We discovered that some others had been helped by a dose of daily probiotics, so we tried that and slowly I was able to start eating some of those foods again.

This continued until about 2 months ago when I started having quite a lot of pain in my left side and abdomen, and lumps began to appear. I thought it may have been kidney stones.

It was getting towards the end of the year, which for us not only means Christmas, but Cj’s birthday as well.

As I am on Newstart due to my caring for CJ, we have limited funds and no savings. This makes saving for gifts pretty hard, let alone saving for gifts while realizing that a trip to the doctors would set me back over $100. While the weeklong wait for a rebate is not a problem for most people, for us, it was the difference  between eating or not. As I had been getting steadily worse over the year, I was becoming quite concerned for my health and decided that I was going to try and make this Christmas and birthday the best one CJ had ever had, saving every dollar I could for the entire 12 months.

Due to this, I waited until Christmas was over before making the doctor’s appointment. 5 days ago I went and saw the doctor. He ordered a CT scan for the very next day and on day 3, I was told I had Stage 4 Cancer and it had spread right throughout my body. The main site, however,  was where the oesophagus meets the stomach, which makes complete sense to me given the issues I have had over the past 2 years.

As it stands at present the Dr has given me less than a year to live; but those close to me believe that due to my dramatic loss of weight, my increased level of pain and fatigue and my rapid decline in health, that I will be gone sooner rather than later.

I love to give to others and have been volunteering at the Salvation Army for the 2 years and a bit that I have had this disease.  I chose the Salvation Army as they were very good to me and CJ when we had nothing and had to move house.

Obviously my medical expenses and funeral costs will need to be paid for somehow, and the part I don’t want to think about, but I must, is the ongoing care of CJ.  This is devastating for me, but I am doing everything in my power to try and create the best future possible for my boy, while I am still able to.

For this reason,  I am humbly asking for help, no matter how small.


Roy Austen
Blackstone Heights TAS

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