"You don’t necessarily think of the military when you think of morning tea, but this year I’ll be hosting my fourth morning tea in honour of my dad and my own experience of cancer at the RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.
My father, Darryl, had been feeling under the weather. When a close friend said he didn’t look well he decided to see his doctor. After some tests, he was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer. My father underwent surgery to remove the primary bowel cancer tumour but unfortunately it had spread to the lymph nodes, liver, lungs and kidneys. Sadly, he passed away in May 2014 when he was only 64.
In August of that same year, I began experiencing abdominal pain and wound up in hospital. I was not even 30 years old at the time. A colonoscopy revealed I had stage four bowel cancer – the same as my father. I was upset when I was diagnosed with cancer. I broke down in front of my wife and doctor after I received the news.
Four days later, I had surgery to remove the 4.5cm tumour and twenty one lymph nodes, of which seven were cancerous. This was just the first part of my treatment. I went on to have more surgery and about nine rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment had its ups and downs. One of the hardest aspects was being the youngest having treatment in the hospital at the time because I didn’t have anyone of my own age that could really relate.
I’m so thankful to my wife. Having her by my side supporting me through all of treatments, scans, blood tests and doctor’s appointments was a huge support. My cancer diagnosis and treatment was very hard on our relationship. I also received wonderful support from the nursing staff when I was in hospital from of course from 10 Squadron.
Cancer Council’s website was an important resource for me in terms of gathering information about the treatment I needed and being aware of Cancer Council’s many support services. The information booklets in particular helped me understand my disease.
9 March 2015 was a special day for me because it was the day I was told I was in remission and there was no evidence of the disease. After my treatment I was able to make changes to my lifestyle, such as eating healthy and riding my bike, which helped me feel better physically and emotionally. Being back on base continues to be a great feeling and since then I’ve even had the opportunity to compete in the Invictus Games.
This year I’m hoping to break my record of 260 attendees at my Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event to raise vital funds to support the work of Cancer Council. "