Fight of & for My Life

Tuesday 3 June, 2008 by Fraser

I was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiform (GBM) on 25 Apr 2008. It all started on Saturday 12 Apr 08. At 9:50pm. I picked up my keys and went out to my car to go and pick up my 3 teenagers from the local shopping centre. My key has 3 buttons, 1 to unlock doors, 1 to lock them and one to open the boot. Even though I was looking at the symbols on the key, I could not for the life of me work out how to unlock the car.

I thought, "strange" and went inside straight past my wife to my computer to shut it down. I could not remember to click on start to begin the shutdown but instead tried crtl/alt  but could not remember the next key - del. I let the wife know that I was having trouble whereupon she sat me down, contacted the kids to suggest they grab a cab home, and then called an ambulance. The ambulance arrived within 10 minutes. They assessed me and determined that I needed hospitalisation quickly. From then on the next hours are sketchy.

As told to me by my wife, "I was transported to hospital all the while talking quite well and able to conduct a reasonable conversation." A CT scan was performed and it was found that I had a tumour in the left parietal of my brain. At 4pm on Sunday I was transported to Royal Melbourne Hospital. I finally regained consciousness just after 8am on Monday, effectively having lost 33+ hours.

I do remember in the haze, the treating neuro-oncologist advising me that I would require a craniotomy to remove the tumour to allow a biopsy to be performed to ascertain the cancer type. I underwent the operation at 3pm on the 14 Apr where they were able to remove all the tumour.

I returned to the Royal Melbourne for an appointment with the neurosurgeon on Monday 28 Apr. He informed me that a biopsy of the tumour confirmed that it was a glioblastoma multiform (GBM for short), which constitutes cancer of the brain. The tumour was just over 1 CM in diameter. The surgeon also advised that he was able to get all of it but there is always a couple of cells that cannot be seen by enhanced MRI or CT scan that are missed. These cells can then cause the tumour to recur, usually at twice the growth rate of the original. This sort of news really takes the wind out of your sails.

How have I coped with the news? Well, as I have no neurological problems except my perception has been a little bit off, but now that is just about back to normal, I am living my life as normal as possible. I have been able to organize to have my radiotherapy at a time that creates the least interference to the rest of the family. This helps them to get on with their lives. That make me feel comfortable, which in turn helps me handle the situation better.

I am well prepared for the fight of my life. I have won the first round by coming through the operation with no lasting complications. The second round, radiotherapy and chemo treatments, started on Tuesday 27 May. The support of family, friends and joining an Australian-based support group and reading the positive stories of others with this insidious disease that are survivors all helps me focus on my own survival. Another who is fighting this fight Senator Edward Kennedy of the USA. I wish him every success in his battle.

Updated: 03 Jun, 2008