My experience with cancer began back in November 2000. I was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma, a tumour which was growing around my brainstem. The first neurosurgeon I saw offered no hope for a positive outcome, nothing could be done surgically because of the position of the tumour and apart from taking a biopsy it was down to Sydney for radiation. Fortunately, I was able to get a second opinion and had surgery in Canberra three months later.
The tumour could not be completely removed but it was enough that radiation treatment was not required. My life then became a series of ongoing scans to monitor the tumour as it started to grow back. I was living from scan to scan and unwilling to look to the future in case I got a bad result.
I wanted to change this and contacted the Cancer Council ACT to see what resources they had. I initially tried a support group. I didn’t find it to my liking but I did access their Library. I wanted to explore meditation as a means of coping with the ongoing stress and I found the Library had a number of books which helped me immensely and led me to find acceptance of my condition.
My tumour settled down and apart from participating in a few Relay For Life events, I did not have a lot of contact with the Council again until 2010 when my tumour had regrown and was impacting my mobility and physical capability. I joined a Cancer Council support group and this time found a very positive group of people who were coping with similar issues. It was a very supportive environment and I found that sharing my experiences with others helped me again come to terms with my condition. I had further neurosurgery in 2011 which completely removed the tumour, so despite the initially grim prognosis, I am still here 15 years later.
I have been very fortunate in that I have had a great support network of family and friends who have been there throughout my illness. My wife and children have been my constant support during my illness and kept me going when it all seemed overwhelming. Because of this support network, I did not need to rely too heavily on the resources of Cancer Council ACT, but they were able to help me when I needed it.