Thanks to research, Nathan recovered from bone cancer

Monday 9 December, 2019

Not being able to run again yet hasn’t stopped Nathan. He’s taking on a challenge to give back to those who’ve supported him, and to raise money for cancer research.

Nathan, aged 36 was diagnosed in February with a chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

“I had some minor pain in my hip for about four months after exercising … luckily I was physically active and just by chance, I thought it was some kind of muscle-related injury because I was physically active,” said the father of two.

“I had a scan at 7.30am, and then got called by the doctor at 10.30am to come in straight away.

“It was out of the blue and at the start it was a big shock. When the doctor initially told me the results of the scan, I was so shocked I left with limited information on the diagnosis,” explained Nathan.

“I turned to the Cancer Council website which had an information sheet on the types of bone cancers, this helped me explain to my family what cancer I had. This information was so valuable compared to what Dr Google had to say.”

Two weeks after his initial diagnosis, Nathan was told he would have to have about 20% of his pelvic bone removed and replaced with bone harvested from his lower leg. The surgeon said he needed to detach some of the major muscles around the area, remove the tumour from the hip, and then screw the new bone into place where he had removed the tumour to strengthen the hip area.

Following the four-hour surgery, Nathan was on an epidural for four days and then was in hospital for 2 weeks.

“It took some time for me to be able to get up and walk with an assisted frame whilst in hospital,” said Nathan.

“The surgeon had invented a special surgical pen that basically works off using coordinates that are tabulated from the CT or MRI scans. This ensures he only needs to remove the minimum amount of bone surrounding the tumour.

“I was led to believe that in years gone by they used to remove way more bone to ensure the surgery was a success. I would assume this would mean your quality of life and recovery would be a lot worse post-surgery as well.”

After four weeks, a biopsy confirmed that the surgery had gone well and they were able to remove the entire tumour.  “This year has been difficult but I have been able to continually hit my recovery milestones and the bone graft is healing the way it should be”

After three months of rest and a moon boot on his leg, Nathan was able to start doing some exercising including water walking, light walking and eventually back on his feet at his job as a construction site supervisor.

Nathan with his family at the Maroondah Relay For Life in November 2019.

Nathan has lost a grandmother to bowel cancer and had done Run Melbourne for eight years as a way of giving something back by fundraising for Cancer Council.

He started to look up what he could do instead of Run Melbourne and decided upon Relay For Life as a way to give back to the friends and family who had been so supportive.

“This year was my turn not to do Run Melbourne as I was still on crutches. I was a bit bummed not to do Run Melbourne in July but thought I would be on my feet again in November to participate in the Maroondah Relay For Life.”

Joining Team Nathan at Relay were his children, family and friends.

“I’m a direct product of what research can achieve. I could have potentially lost more pelvic bone and my leg without the surgical pen. It’s a good example of what money going towards research can achieve.”

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