Monday, July 25, 2016

Here we go again......

There are constant and inevitable reminders of the fact that, yes, all of this really happened. 

My body is scarred and in several places grossly misshapen. 

My girls know a lot about cancer for their own good and I realised that although I had grown comfortable with discussing cancer at times unaware of them in ear shot.  There are medical bills that regularly remind us of what impacts on us as a family and I still need seizure medication as I have a scarring on my brain from previous surgery and regular appointments, scans, bloods and the unknown is there.  I can’t forget these things. I feel guilty that I brought cancer into our family and my heart breaks when I see how much it effects and places pressure on Lisa. She is a strong, amazing and resilient person……however my guilt is tearing at me by bringing cancer into her life and our girls. No one deserves this, especially my wife and three girls.

Being reminded that cancer was in our life reoccurred once more. The past month has been brutal, emotional draining and sitting in limbo is an easy way of describing it.

After my routine 3 monthly CT scan, it revealed that my only tumour that has been in my body for a few months, in the lymph nodes near my right lung had grown from 1.3cm to 2.6cm. This was it……time to remove this sucker….my oncologist decide to get this removed. My hesitation was evident, another surgery, recovery and time in hospital away from my family. 

Lisa and I met with the surgeon, I truly went in thinking 'open me up and cut the sucker out and clearing me of melanoma once and for all'. He needed to cut small piece of rib, access the tumour and take it, along with the top lobe of my right lung. This would see me lose 10% of my lung capacity. This truly messed with my head. The surgeon organised for me to have a PET scan to determine the exact size of the tumour and how close it was to my lung.

The reminder was here……I get scananxiety with all scans, but PET scans are the worst anxiety of them all.

In reality the PET scan was perfect timing, as the results revealed a NEW 1.3mm size tumour in my Adrenal Gland near my left Kidney.

My oncologist and surgeon reassessed things as a result of the latest scan results, it was decided to not have surgery and start a new treatment…..Keytruda.

It was now a new word and immunotherapy treatment I needed to learn about……..learning more about what was about to happen once again, educating Lisa and I on melanoma’s new immunotherapy  treatment once again….extending our oncology education and vernacular.

The relief of not having surgery was good, however, it then reaffirmed that Dabrafenib was no longer working and my body had worked out a way of beating the drug to bring back the cancer. Knowing that I have options out there is very good and well, but it still resonates that I have incurable cancer…… you then question;

"Will I see my girls grow up and achieve all the things in life that I wish for them?”
"Will Lisa and I grow old together?"
"How will the family cope with all of this?"

Dabrafenib had been my “miracle” for just under 3 years, longer than what specialists thought it would last.

Keytruda was a new treatment and now on the Government PBS. For me it involves spending an hour, every three weeks having an IV placed in my arm for the hour and then life as normal for the day….side effects listed included: the usual, rash, stomach complaints, fevers, constipation, fatigue and hair loss.

One week in I was feeling ok…..none of the mentioned side effects had occurred, however bruising and pain in the kidney area near the tumour….the worst pain I have felt…..What keytruda does is boost your T-Cells (immune cells) to hit and target the cancer/tumours…..apparently it inflames them and they get angry. I am hoping this is what is happening.

My pain could only be controlled with Panadol or strong panadine….not Anti-inflammatory meds.

Fatigue was kicking in….I have kept working full time, however my passion to cycle and desire to cycle 220km a week has taken a back seat…..this is a different sort of pain… miss the bike and physical exercise is an emotional toll on me. I love riding, but love it even more with mates that keep me riding hard and mates who get my bike back on the road to fitness and recovery. 

Whether it is cold, wet or foggy, I love it. 

After the second week since treatment my pain was managed and I didn’t feel as bad. It is a dose every three weeks for two years. Fingers crossed it does its job.

Before all of these dramas that melanoma and cancer brought into our life….. the weeks before were full of family birthdays and time of celebrating. 

Kalita turned 7, and I turned 41…..and it was on my birthday that the oncologist rang with the news that spread in disease has occurred. We even attended a Disney on Ice Concert as a family during the school holiday. 

The girls are all doing well and Lisa is somehow keeping everything in order.

I am working hard with the new job, meeting the new challenges with excitement and it is still an amazing job. On this note, CompNow who; I work for have been very supportive of what we are going through. The travel is long but very rewarding, I do miss the family when I am away. 

Cancer makes everything real…..I have moments when I think about the next phase of a life without cancer…..I visualize life without all of this and my health being 150% normal. The girls growing up and graduating from primary, secondary school and me walking each one of them down the aisle at their weddings, Lisa and I growing old, and somehow I maintain my cycling to complete more Tour De Cure rides to raise money for cancer research.

Hoping we have a light at the end filled with positivity.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016



I apologise to many of you for my hiatus from posting to my blog…..My absence hasn’t been due to my health, just a massive few months at work with the new job.

Perfect starting point …… my work is BRILLIANT!!! I love the change in my career. I am busy working in and with many schools, presenting at conferences, mentoring leaders in schools to establish their Teaching and Learning and Technology platform…..I have travelled interstate a number of times meeting colleagues and networking with schools in the states across the country.

My most pleasing achievement is publishing three iBooks for that have been published in the Apple iBooks Store. These are all centered around Teaching and Learning.

Travel and being busy does have an impact, and that is coming home late from work and missing time with the Lisa and the girls, however the support from Lisa is always amazing, which I am very grateful for.

She is likewise busy….. being a mum and working at her Osteo Clinic. She also had a fun and enjoyable Mother's Day. The school Mother's Day stall is always a hit. 

Mother's Day Morning 
Great morning.
School Mother's Day Breakfast 
Likewise, I had a great day with my family and mum for Mother's Day. She came over and spent time with my siblings and the girls.

My brothers and sister with Mum for Mother's Day
Mum and the older girls
Dad and Kalita 
Zahlia and her cousin 
My sister Olivia and Rhys my younger brother and soon to be dad
I will say my stress levels are less….whether that’s my mindset or just the fresh, new environment I am working in.

I do miss the interaction with students since stepping out of the classroom. I do get my student interaction when I visit schools and work with teachers in the classroom…..but I do miss working with Bruce my mate from Carey. We catch up regularly and chat about life and teaching. Always wonderful to see him and share ideas with him.

Starting a new job also meant missing this year’s Tour De Cure ride……watching from the sidelines was hard. They once again rode massive kilometres 1500km in total from Brisbane to Sydney in the 10th Year of the Tour De Cure’s existence…..they have raised a staggering $4.8Million for Cancer research, AMAZING EFFORT!.....I will be there in 2017.

I am still riding a lot and keeping fit and maintaining my average K’s per month at 240km…. I am feeling fit and healthy…..I have lost my riding buddy Matty. He has also taken on a new career path and this has taken priority over riding with me. I admire his determination to shift careers and run his own business at the same time.

Mark, Dave and Rob dads from the girls school, have filled the void of Matty, along with Grillsy, they have been riding many early mornings with me. Always a pleasure to ride with them.
Spin with Geoff. 
Grillsy after an early ride...yes he was stuffed
Bike Selfie
It was also wonderful to celebrate one of our good mates 40th and to have time out with Lisa was so much fun. Brilliant night with mates. 
Lisa and I a very rare night out.
The boys.

The boys.

Lisa and the girls are always my heart beat everyday and they are busy doing so much and achieving milestones each week. All of them are involved in Gymnastics, Dance and Swimming. Lisa races them from place to place and Saturday’s is the day I get to seem them in action.

Zahlia is now swimming at the same swim centre as the older two and skipping levels with ease……she is growing up too quickly, turning 5 this month.

Kalita, achieved swimmer of the week recently and went up another level also. She is one determined little girl, her schooling progress is unbelievable I have seen some astounding curriculum achievements. She is very excited about turning 7 in July.
Kalita swimmer of the week. 
Ariella had her 9th birthday last month and to say she is growing up is an understatement…. She is one mature and passionate girl….loves life and fanatical about all things…. Even the Hawthorn Footy Club!!!
A very young Mum and Dad with Ariella at an early age also. 
Birthday morning for Ariella

Hawks match 

Lisa and I purchased a new MASSIVE trampoline for the girls as a combined birthday present for them. It took a whole day to put together and two weekends altering the garden to make the trampoline fit…. Lisa did most of the work…….needless to say the girls love it.

Trampoline frame...massive project. 
Finished product. 
Finished product.
Garden Complete. 
As you read this blog entry, you are probably thinking I am a biased father writing about the girls in such a glowing way ….. you are right…. however to see the achievements of my girls’ is what I live for and makes me PROUD…. I am here to see all of this.

My health is really good. I feel great and have bloods next week with scans four weeks later.
I still have the one tumour hanging around near my lung and chest wall……but seriously its not worrying me.

It is nothing compared to two friends of mine who are not that well at the moment…..they fight and they push through…at times I feel guilty as I am doing really well and they are unwell….CANCER IS A BITCH!!!! I am thinking of them both all the time. You both have amazing strength, determination, will power and go through all of this with a smile on your face. 
Shelli this is for you 
My other friend who also has cancer is doing very well….all I say to you is listen to the people in your corner…..we are all with you.

Life is what you make of it. Nothing is easy…..when you get knocked down….it hurts, but the way you bounce back lessens the pain.