John’s Story – T-cell Lymphoma

In early 2002 I was diagnosed with 'T' Cell Lymphoma after much procrastination by several doctors and specialists over several weeks. Initially the medical opinion was that I had contracted Meningococcal which was then changed to Ross River Fever. While this conundrum prevailed I was propped up in the Gold Coast Hospital losing weight daily and feeling continually fatigued.

When the correct diagnosis was eventually determined some 8 weeks after being admitted to hospital, I was then given 6-8 weeks remaining in my life without medical intervention. I was simultaneously advised that Chemotherapy should commence immediately and when I retorted that I didn't believe in Chemo the doctor once again reiterated that I wouldn't be around in two months if I didn't submit.  Chemotherapy sessions commenced the very next day.

After eight sessions of Chemotherapy over 4 months I was then declared "In Remission" by the Haematologist. In my naivity at that stage I believed that meant I could return to work. Once again, I  began building homes in conjunction with a property developer personally putting in 10-12 hour days. WRONG!!! Needless to say my remission lasted only nine weeks as relayed to me by the Haematologist only 24 hours before my wife and I were to board a plane to the USA to surprise my best mate there on his 60th birthday.

I wasn't given much time to think as my body was once again immediately subjected to further intensive Chemotherapy. The nurses were applying the equipment for this procedure at the time I should have been winging my way across the Pacific. I shudder to think what may have been the outcome if I had made that flight and suffered the relapse in the USA.

I had to deal with many mind-games during the overall process involving the Chemotherapy, mostly pertaining to the "Why Me!" syndrome. Most other sufferers with whom I have conferred also experienced a similar malaise. This factor, along with the dearth of information available at the time, prompted me to begin writing a book of my experiences titled "I Can Survive The Rest Of My Life!" 

Also, I had a personal article published in the local paper where I reside on the Gold Coast which generated a lot of interest and induced the idea of forming a Support Group. As a co-founder along with fellow sufferer, Shirley Winton and a doctor also inflicted with Lymphoma, the Group, now known as the Lymphoma Support & Research Association Inc. (LSRAInc.) has a mission statement involving primarily the raising of urgent funds for research and the support of fellow sufferers everywhere. 

Lymphoma, statistically, is now the most prevalent malignancy effecting the Immune System throughout the western world, yet the general ignorance of this fact throughout society in general is  amazing. I have my own personal mission to gain more public recognition of this plight and expand our Association for the benefit of all those currently effected and to try and prevent further projected suffering well into the future.

My beautiful wife, Elaine, has been most supportive and inspirational in her own unique and uncompromising way and I do firmly believe that if it wasn't for her unequivocal charm and devotion I just simply would not be here today.

I have considered my experience, being taken to the edge of pure existence, as a Journey in the Ladder of Life and among many anecdotes and beliefs I have now conjured, my favourite is: Without a  personal foe and the inevitable challenge, our optimum inner strengths may never be realised! – I devote this to all those who believe they have experienced a hard day at the office.


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