I was diagnosed with stomach cancer eight years ago when I was 44. I was really fortunate that the cancer was found early. I was being treated for a stomach ulcer and a follow-up gastroscopy found a tumour in my stomach.
I found it really beneficial to participate in a clinical trial looking at what combination of treatment worked best for stomach cancer. The treatment path I trialled was preoperative chemotherapy, a total gastrectomy, and postoperative chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy was very difficult and I struggled with the side effects. My wife at the time gave birth to our little girl while I was having chemotherapy. This was very challenging – I was advised to be really careful with the baby because the chemotherapy meant I had a greater risk of getting an infection. I couldn’t even change her nappies.
I was also trying to understand that I had cancer and deal with the emotional aspects. I found it really helpful to tap into Cancer Connect peer support.
I got a lot of benefit from connecting with someone who’d had a similar type of experience and lived through it. My contact shared his experiences of waking up from surgery with lots of tubes coming out of him, so I wasn’t shocked when this happened to me. It was really good to have that awareness prior to the surgery.
Once treatment was finished, it was quite daunting and I was fearful that the cancer would come back somewhere. Eight years later, it hasn’t come back, which is fantastic.
I’ve changed my career path and am studying community services in order to help people though changes in their life. The way you view life is different after cancer. I really appreciate and have a lot of gratitude for what I have now.
Prof David Watson, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Oesophago-gastric Surgery Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, and Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Flinders University, SA; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Christine Froude, Consumer; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Interventional Endoscopist and Consultant Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Grant Wilson, Consumer; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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