Please follow my video updates on my journey on Instagram @shanefritchley
This is me Shane Fritchley, before I go into my story and this journey I've been on now for 13 months, firstly thank you for taking the time to watch the video and have a read. I hope I make a connection with you and thank you for your support.
Those who know me know that I'm hopeless with Facebook and even worse with Instagram, so please tag, share, post, send emails, whatever you can do to help, share it with your workplace, anything to get the word out there would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to do my best to learn through this as well and post more and more as my journey from this point on.
After 13 months of a very tough chemotherapy treatment, it's now at the point that the cancer has been in my body too long and it's going to get harder for my body to survive. They have tried several different types of chemotherapy drugs, and nothing seems to work for my situation. As I mentioned in the video I now run the risk of liver failure, if that happens i'll have limited time to live, so I'm a ticking time bomb at the moment, hence the desperation. Therefore I'm looking into alternative methods of treatment overseas, initial treatment will be around $50,000 - $60,000. Which if I get the funds I will need to go within the next 2 weeks. If the treatment works, follow up treatment will be more. If the treatment doesn't work as effectively as I hope there are options, which are around $8,000 per month, however not proven to be as effective. It's scary to think that I may need in excess of $100,000 which had been raised but in order to continue with treatment if it works will be more again, pluswith all other potential medical costs and other out of pocket expenses. Can it be done, I hope with enough clicks, shares and likes perhaps it can. I have no expectations on how this will go, but I have to try right. If your able to spare $4 from your morning coffee, $10, or $1000 every little bit small or large is greatly appreciated. If it buys me more time and puts me in the direction for a cure myself and my family will be forever great-full. Whatever the amount I raise, any funds left over will go directly back into bowel cancer research.
How it all came to be
It's a little hard to know where to start. As I mentioned in the video I'm 35 years old have a very active lifestyle, eat well, and generally look after myself pretty well. When I started having small symptoms, which at first didn't know were symptoms just random things that being a young healthy male just brushed off as 'oh well it's not happening all the time so I'm alright', I literally thought that's all it was. To go into detail for those that may be interested was a runny poo here and there, which can happen to anyone. Then I found myself needing to go to the toilet a bit more often, especially in the mornings, it would be half runny and half solid so again didn't worry too much about it. Mainly because these symptoms weren't occurring every day, definitely not consistent enough to draw concern. It wasn't until I saw blood in my stool a few consistent occasions that I felt I should really get this checked out, probably nothing but should get it checked. From this point on it was just a whirlwind.
The doctors tested my stool, which lead to CT scans, which lead to being referred to a liver specialist Dr Francis Chu (Frank an amazing Doctor). It was on my birthday in his office that he tells me that I have stage 4A bowel cancer, and it has metastasised to your liver. He continued to explain the size of the tumors and where they were. My first question was, 'OK so what do we need to do, what's the next step'. The idea of the situation and being told 'you have cancer' hadn't sunk in, plus it's my general Fritchley nature to move forward and move towards fixing a situation.
I then got referred to Dr Katrin Sjoquist (again another amazing Doctor, I have been so well taken care of this whole time). Katrin advised me that they will start me on chemotherapy straight away. From being diagnosed I was in the hospital getting treatment within 2 weeks. I would get treatment every second week as the doses they were planning on giving me were going to be strong and a lot, so my body needed time to recover.
Breaking the news
The hardest thing was watching my parents deal with the news, having Frank talk them through everything he had previously gone through with me only days before. I love them both so much and to see them go through that and to be honest this whole thing has been hard at times. I then had to tell my brother and sister, Luke and Sarah. Luke was the hardest to tell, we have this amazing relationship, where it's a lot of banta at times, but no matter what we'd be there for each other and have each others back no matter what, this was no different, he's been an amazing rock for me through this whole experience. Sarah took it as most sisters would, couldn't believe this was happening 'to me' and was scared for me more than anything, she's been amazing. I found the more people the burden lessened. I chose to tell only those closest to me and keep it tight, as from the Doctors plan this whole thing would be over in a year or year and a half. Unfortunately this just hasn't happened. The support network I've had around me has been amazing and respected my decision to only tell those I wanted to tell up until now that I have made it public. It has made my journey that little bit easier, especially when times got tough. Hanging with Luke and the boys
The other two little things that really drive me to fight harder, stay strong and finding a way to get me through this are my two nephews Osric and Shacklock, hence all the photos. Whenever we just hang out, go riding, play smash cars, or watch them make their own ninja warrior course in the back yard are some of the most precious times for me. They fill my heart with some much love and joy whenever I see them. Spending time with them raises my spirit to fight, fight so I can see them grow up, so I can be there for them as they grow and continue to be the cool uncle. It scares me to think potentially these times are now numbered due to my situation. I HAVE TO BEAT THIS! This is how you do it, haha Osric was much better at it than me.
Chemotherapy and its effects on me
After being put on four different chemotherapy drugs, every second Monday in hosipital from 8.30am until 4.30pm getting my juice, then they give me a take away chemo pump to infuse over the next three days. Again the nursing staff at the HODC treatment clinic at St George Hospital as all amazing! I was very optimistic about my first update two and half months in. The first scan showed some shrinkage in the liver tumors, great! I thought this will all go to plan just as the Doctors said it'll keep shrinking and they can cut it out. Unfortunately every scan from then on the cancer had either grown a little or stayed at the same size. On one had great news, it's not spreading, bad news that I was not moving forward to getting operated on.
I made a decision early on that I'm not about to roll over, I'm gong to keep doing everything I would normally do until my body tells me otherwise. I kept up work full time, kept playing hockey, mountain biking, surfing, ski patrol, just try and keep some normality to my life and lifestyle.
Chemotherapy is a rotten drug when you think about what it's trying to do, therefore the side effects were a plenty, they differed from week to week. While I was still able to do all these things to try and lead a normal life, I hit a mental barrier having to come to terms with this is going to be my life for the foreseeable future, I was now living with cancer, and I wasn't going to able to lead my normal life. Over time I realised it wasn't so much the side effects that got me, it was what cancer was taking away from me. It takes away your freedom to lead a normal life based on the side effects. From cronic mouth ulcers for 3 days where you can't eat what you want or anything much at all sometimes (and I love my food). Having to plan outings based on how my bowels were acting, and knowing where the nearest public toilet will be in you really got to go. Being a teenage boy again with my body covered in pimples head to toe and peoples asking if I'm OK. Being confined to home due to stomach cramping and constant bowel movements. Then no matter what I have to be back in that chair for treatment every second Monday. So between dealing with the cycle and the side effects, I would have 2 maybe 3 days where I would feel somewhat normal. Still staying active, don't try and stop me cancer!
Even now 13 months on, my body just doesn't function normal and every day life just comes with it difficulties and challenges in many different ways. One thing that has kept me mentally strong is the concept that I'm responsible for how I deal with and approach my situation. No one else, me! I will continue to stay strong as I believe there is some form of treatment somewhere that will work for me and I can continue this fight and win!
Thank you for taking the time to read a bit more about my journey, I hope we have made a connection in some way and you feel the need to share my story and help me achieve my goal of staying alive basically for as long as possible, or finding a way to cure my situation. Lets get the job done, for me, my family, my boys, and everyone who has and will support me!