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 instructed to be really careful with the baby because of the risks associated with chemotherapy, so 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 through 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.