Warrnambool resident Tony always considered himself fit and healthy, so he wasn’t concerned when he started experiencing unexplained tiredness and blood in his urine. His son, however, was not happy with this assumption and urged Tony to see his GP.
After a number for tests and specialist appointments, the 65-year-old was called into the clinic to meet with his doctor.
“As soon as I looked at her, I felt a shiver down my spine,” he said.
“She sat me down and said I had Acute Leukaemia. You could have knocked me down with a feather.
“She told me with about two months of chemo I had about a 40 per cent chance of remission.”
However, all Tony could think about was his family.
“I just didn’t know how to deal with this,” he said.
“I thought to myself, how am I going to tell my wife and kids?”
Tony packed his bags for the Warrnambool Base Hospital before specialists arranged a bed at University Hospital Geelong on the Haematology ward.
Leaving his house behind, he recalls looking back at his wife and their beautiful garden, wondering if he would ever see it again.
Tony said the few times his family left his side in hospital were the hardest.
“I went into the toilet and found myself crying. I looked in the mirror and told myself I needed to beat this badly, as I wanted to spend my retirement enjoying things with my wife, spending more time with my kids and grandkids.
“That is when things took on a new meaning, and that I wasn’t going to give in.”
Since then Tony has started chemotherapy and is taking exercise therapy sessions, fully funded by the Dry July Foundation.
The therapy enables patients to leave their beds and their hospital room to exercise and help the body and mind whilst undergoing cancer treatment.
The physiotherapy has helped Tony’s mobility and state of mind, making a big difference to the pain he felt in his knee.
“These people really can’t help you enough. I need a knee replacement at some stage and have been in pain, but my physio has really helped me a lot with the exercise therapy.
“It is really hard to describe, but it’s like someone went out and found the kindest people in the world and put them in this building and they are taking such good care of me and others there.”
In 2017, Dry July raised more than $154,000 for the comfort and care of cancer patients at Barwon Health. Some of the items funded this year have included exercise therapy, a patient art program, music therapy, nutrition support and edible gardens, carer support and massage. To support Dry July 2018, go to www.dryjuly.com.