As we celebrate National Volunteer Week 2023, we’d like to recognise Steve’s volunteer work for Cancer Council’s Transport to Treatment service.
Steve had just turned 65 years old when his wife, Anne, noticed a spot on his back and encouraged him to go and get it checked out by the GP. What followed was a Stage III melanoma diagnosis and two years of treatment. He credits Anne for saving his life – in more ways than one.
Steve thought nothing of the spot on his back, but his wife convinced him to visit the GP
In November 2018, Steve’s wife, Anne, convinced him to visit his GP about a spot she had noticed on his back.
“Anne had mentioned the spot a few times and had noticed it had changed a bit. It was when we returned from holiday and I got out of the shower she said to me – that spot, you really need to go and get it checked. So I booked an appointment with my GP to keep Anne happy but I didn’t think much of it myself. I’d never even had a skin check before.”
Steve’s GP took one look at the spot and said it needed to be removed and sent for testing.
“My first thought was wow, Anne was right! Two days later I got a call from the specialist to say that the results showed my spot was in fact a Malignant Melanoma and following further tests I was told it was Stage III.”
Following a trip to Sydney and surgery, Steve was told that everything had gone well and the cancer had been removed. In August 2019 following immunotherapy treatment, Steve and Anne were feeling confident about the approaching six-month scan.
“This is where our whole world changed”
In August 2019, MRI & CT scans showed tumours on Steve’s brain, liver, spleen and kidneys. Doctors told him his cancer was now classified as Stage IV.
“This is where reality really hit home and our whole world changed. I was told the treatment would have a 10% success rate and I may only have 12 months to live.”
The next 12 months were tough for Steve and Anne, following radiation, immunotherapy and various side-effects. Steve was left feeling anxious and depressed, yet incredibly the treatment worked with September 2020 scans coming back all-clear.
“I wouldn’t have got through it without Anne, my darling wife and best friend. She was just my rock, we are a team. I look back on it now and there were times when I was probably not very easy to live with.”
“I think back over my journey – I was an outgoing, fairly healthy person who loved riding motorbikes. The toughest part of my experience was not being able to do the things that I loved and it made me depressed. I’d see my bike sat in the garage and didn’t even have the strength to lift it off the stand and take it out. It was those simple little things that make up life that I was missing out on.”
Steve is using his experience to give others hope
Since this experience, Steve has been living three months at a time – the length of time in between scans.
“I’m doing okay now, almost back to my old self, but I do get very anxious before a scan until I get the results. We’re seeing how I go, but hopefully I’ll be able to reduce the scans to every six months soon.”
One thing Steve has found very rewarding is becoming a volunteer driver for Cancer Council’s Transport to Treatment service.
“I knew about the driving and I wanted to give something back, I felt I could help people going through a similar experience. It’s amazing because I have seen some people at the start and the end of their treatment.
“Now, I talk to people when I’m taking them to their treatment and I say – be hopeful, think of the future because there’s a chance that it will come good again one day. I’ve just taken my bike on a three week road trip to Queensland!”
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