"In 2018 I was diagnosed with a complicated case of T Cell Lymphoma cancer. I spent 12 months in hospital and I was given 24 hours to live several times.
No one expects to get cancer, you certainly don’t train for it, you are absolutely thrown in the deep end, so you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone.
My cancer journey was also described as a particularly complicated case because the treatment caused so many different complications that were incredibly difficult to diagnose and treat because they all intertwined and interacted. So not only was I thrown in the deep end, I also had a baptism of fire. But conquering tough times brings joy and I’m happy to be conquering cancer, I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer every day.
I lost so much during my cancer journey. I lost my short- and long-term memories, the toes off my right foot, 20cm of my bowel, I lost my father to cancer whilst I was having bowel surgery, I lost my sense of smell, my sense of taste, my sense of place.
But I also gained a lot.
Because I survived, I have thrived.
Because of my memory issues, I don’t remember contracting cancer; the diagnosis; seven rounds of chemotherapy; the Stem Cell transplant; my first admission to hospital, where they cut the toes off my right foot and removed twenty centimetres of my bowel; being released and returning home; going to the hospital Emergency Department a dozen times because my complications made my life hell; my first memory of the entire experience is walking in the hospital for my second admission, looking down and asking the nurse and my wife who had cut off my toes!
But just because I didn’t remember it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I enjoyed my time in hospital because the doctors and nurses helped me survive and thrive. It’s important to separate the disease from the hospital. The disease is the bad experience, not the hospital.
I thrived during my cancer journey because they wonderfully transferred me to the University of Canberra Hospital which at the time had only been opened for six months. You may expect teething issues from a brand-new facility, but I didn’t find a single one and I have nothing but praise for the rehabilitation team there who helped me thrive by preparing me beautifully to return to life.
They helped me identify and manage my limitations so I could comfortably live with them in day to day life. The limitations were caused by complications from my cancer treatment. I call them limitations because they limited my ability to live a normal fulfilling life. But I have resumed a fulfilling life thanks to the Occupational Therapists and Counsellors at the University of Canberra Rehabilitation Hospital.
The UCH Rehabilitation team prepared me to re-join life.
I’m just a slow walker who likes to sit down a lot, but I can walk, thanks to the UCH Rehabilitation team.
But slowing down allows me see all the beauty in the world, which has allowed me to become more appreciative of everything. I used to search for the best coffee in town. I now search for the best conversation, the best piece of nature, the best memories.
I couldn’t be happier with my life right now, I mean, Look at what’s happened to me, I can’t believe it myself. Believe it or not I found the most amazing job despite the cognitive impairment from my cancer, amid the Coronavirus complications.
Having cancer is tough and it was another turning point in my life, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I am standing a little taller, even with my nerve prone feet.
Because I survived, I have thrived."