In April 2018 from the 23rd April to 1st May (8 nights) I will be trekking the Kokoda to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Centre - WA and help raise awareness of Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Here is my reason why:
In December 2013 life as we knew it was about to change forever. After not long returning from a cruise to celebrate my wife's 40th birthday we got the shock of our lives when my wife was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic (also known as advanced or secondary) Breast Cancer. Scans revealed a tumor in her right breast, 8 x tumors in her liver and 5 x tumors in her bones as well as in her right lymph nodes. We were told the cancer was aggressive and treatment started immediately.
We barely had time to absorb the abundance of information that came our way let alone how we were supposed to explain to our three young daughters that Mum needs to have some "special medicine" and surgery - even though she didn't "LOOK" sick. My wife made no hesitation in deciding to have a double mastectomy but first came 5 months of chemo, then surgery followed by 6 weeks of radiation.
At the time of diagnosis is was explained to us that Metastatic Breast Cancer is incurable but thanks to advances in treatment is very treatable and would mean treatment for life. Our "hope" came in the form of my wife's amazing Oncologist, Professor Arlene Chan, whom we were lucky to be referred to by my wife's GP. My wife's cancer responded well immediately to the treatment (every 3 weeks to Perth from regional WA) and before long was in partial remission and stable.
Things were running smoothly until in July 2016 my wife was experiencing headaches and vertigo symptoms when our worst fears had come to reality, scans revealed 2 large tumors in her brain which required immediate brain surgery to remove the tumors due the swelling on her brain. I remember my wife in tears terrified of the situation she was now in. Lost for words and terrified myself, not even sure I believed what I was saying I tried to console her, "it'll be ok, Arlene will know what to do". Within a few days my wife underwent the first of 2 brain surgeries. Walking out of the hospital after leaving her in theater was the longest 6 hours of my life and when the surgeon came in to tell me "all went well", to say I was relieved would be an under statement. After 2 weeks of recovery and having to learn to walk again (due to the tumors being located in the part of the brain which controlled co-ordination - cerebellum) it was time for round 2. Thankfully surgery was again successful. After some more time to recover she underwent another 6 weeks of radiation on the brain (an insurance policy so to speak).
It was now time to talk about "what next" as far as treatment options. Still very anxious about the prognosis from here my wife started her new treatment plan recommended by her Oncologist "Professor Chan". After a few months of the new treatment and the follow up scans my wife and I were both anxious about the results. The results were good. We both certainly breathed easier after a nervous few months. My wife has since fully recovered from surgery and the radiation and is coping well with the new treatment resuming full time work with treatment continuing 3 weekly.
I recently heard one of Professor Chan's other patients say in a radio interview, "how do you say thank you to the woman who is helping keep you alive?". This is my way, on behalf of my wife, of saying "thankyou" to Professor Arlene Chan and her colleagues who have become "our Hope" by helping them continue their amazing work at the Breast Cancer Research Centre - WA