Last week before COVID-19 started infiltrating our lives from every angle – I was quietly happy, content, relieved and extremely proud of my achievements. You see last week I just clocked up 5 Years of Staying Alive since my last Cancer treatment.

As many of my friends know, back in 2014 I spent 133 days straight in hospital having major aggressive chemo to save my life. On March 10th 2015, I was wheeled into surgery at the PA Hospital in Brisbane and none other than the Director of Urology himself performed a marathon 9 hour surgery on me to remove parts of my body that still had teratoma tumours growing or could be problematic to me. I spent a further 10 days in hospital.

I couldn’t tell you how many times during 2014 and early 2015 I was told I was going to die or could die in the coming days or hours even. On one occasion my wife Caroline got a phone call from a doctor at 3.30am telling her to rush in and see me and say goodbye ‘coz I was about to be rushed in to emergency lung drainage surgery due to me developing severe pneumonia and I probably wouldn’t still be alive by 7am.

I hope those of you reading this never have to hear those sorts of words spoken to you.


As a cancer survivor, living 5 years beyond treatment is one of the biggest milestones to hit. I’m one of the lucky ones who has hit that target. I know and appreciate many are not so lucky. I’m forever grateful for having the best medical team around me at the time that shared the common goal that we could do this, despite the odds stacked against us.

Some medical pros told me to just give in and go away and die peacefully. I don’t blame them or hate them for that. It’s what their experience told them would be my outcome. But I always like to be a little different, lol, and their words actually inspired me to battle on.

I’ve been told by oncology psychology experts that my mental and physical scars caused by cancer are on par with the worst that some soldiers see out on the war zone. Five years on I still feel like I am in recovery mode but I just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and do what I can to be a good human, husband, work, study, exercise and whatever else we do in our daily lives.

I’m forever grateful for making 5 years. I know I’m somewhat of a miracle boy as I have been called many times. I hope I still have many more lots of 5 years ahead of me yet!

Along with my amazing medical team, Bloomhill Cancer Care played a crucial part in my recovery. The nurses, counsellors and other cancer patients provided a safe space to recover physically and mentally – among those who know what it is like to live with cancer.

The shit thing about cancer is that it doesn’t just impact your body. It also hits your back pocket. For the past 5 years while I have been recovering, my wife has been the primary income earner for our household. Thanks to COVID-19, today her hours have been slashed in half. I can't tell you how anxious that news makes us both. But have least we have each other. 

A silver lining is you meet some incredible people you would never have met in your previous life. These new connections bring strength and comfort alongside the daily, ongoing impacts of cancer treatment on your everyday life. The Bloomhill family are part of my silver lining of cancer. They currently do this for over 1200 other people living with cancer. And they need our help right now.

Please join me in donating to their Emergency Appeal - COVID-19 Response.

A large donation will provide much needed breathing space right now. Multiple smaller donations will mean many eyes and hearts are focused on the immediate problem at hand. Ensuring vital care and support is there when it is needed most. 

We don’t know when our last day is, so in the meantime, just slow down a little.
Stop to smell the roses, appreciate the pretty colourful butterflies and just give out more kindness and smiles and love.


And always have HOPE!

Yours,
Joe


P.s. See photo below of me as proof of what hope can bring. 

Click here to donate.