TAG Finance Director, Glen Austen found out first hand the value of having trauma insurance in September 2011. The following excerpt is an email Glen sent to his closest friends and family to fill them in on how he was travelling. This is Glen’s story.
23rd September 2011
This is just a message to our friends & family who we know are hearing bits & pieces on the grape vine about my health. I have included in this email the people who are closest to us, around us frequently, and who have an involvement in the preparations of our wedding in December 2012. I just wanted to let everyone know that Kim & I are doing fine and pushing though, and below is a little sequence of events to let you in a little closer on the wee rollercoaster ride that we have been on for the last couple of months;
In late July we were laying in bed. Kim was asleep & I thought it was an apt opportunity to play with my boys. Thank god I did because I found something I wasn’t expecting at all…a small lump on my left testicle. At first I had a panic, and then started to google “lump on testicle” on my phone which brought up a plethora of possible diagnosis. Due to this I thought I would wait & see if it was there the following day. It was.
I went to my GP and told him what I had found. He instantly referred me for an ultrasounds with urgency & no questions asked. Boys, it’s an odd feeling having another guy rubbing an ultrasound covered in lube over your nuts! Ladies, I appreciate now what you have to go through regularly.
The results went back to my GP & I was called back in to be advised I had a tumour & was now being referred onto an Oncologist (Cancer Specialist).
By the time I got booked into the specialist it had been a little over a week since I discovered the lump. Again I had the joy of a man fondling my budgie eggs whilst a uni student trainee observed. Just call me “Sideshow Glen”! After they had their fun I was advised in no uncertain terms that “Beyonce” was getting removed! (I think I’ve gone with that nickname because it was the one “to the left, to the left…”. Just go with it people.)
From there I was off to have 4 blood tests and a full torso CT (Cat) scan to see how far the possible cancer had spread. The good news is that the scans showed it to be isolated to Beyonce.
Next I was in front of a Urologist who we now refer to as the “Extractor”. When I went in he asked me I wanted to bring Kim in also. I said yes, and he replied that “it’d be a good idea because we have a bit to talk about”. I opened the door, waived Kim in from the waiting room, & she went instantly pale. We sat down & he gave Kim & I a rundown of what was to happen next. He told us I had a nonseminoma tumor. In simple terms it is quite active, however they cannot actually tell you if it is cancerous until it is removed & sent to the lab, but he was 95% sure it was cancerous from what he could see.
So on September 1st I was in St John Of God hospital from 8am and the Extractor took Beyonce from me at around midday whilst I was under general anesthetic. He did a 3 inch cut under my abdomen on the front of the left hip if that makes sense. He went in through there, through the muscle, follows the chord down into the scrotum, & removed Beyonce back through that incision. Weird huh?! The chord is then clamped off, I’m stitched up & job done.
For the next week & a bit I was laid up waiting for the wound to heal. Around this time Kim & I were called back to the Extractors office to find out the results of the lab test, and was advised I had a Stage 2 Embrional Carcinoma. In lamens terms it is an aggressive form of cancer that had taken over about 2/3 of the testical and had actually started to travel up the lymphatic chord. Not good! It was 7cm in circumference would you believe?! The Urologist was fairly confident that they got it all, however I was then referred onto another Oncologist to be put on a chemotherapy program.
Kim & I met the Oncologist on Tuesday evening this week & were told that I was going on quite an intensive 9 week program run in 3 x 3 week cycles. This was going to start next week, then was brought forward to Thursday, then I got a call on the Wednesday (yes, the day after the Oncologist appointment) to say they wanted me in to start it straight away. Their concern was that the cancer cells had moved up into my lymph glands etc.
So here I am now, just home from SJOG on day 3 of my first week of my first cycle of chemo. Each session is 4-6 hours & has plenty of side effects which I won’t list. I will however let you know that I have been told I will lose my hair, eyebrows, & eyelashes after about 2 weeks. As I said to Brownie & Tony the other day, it’s like I’m doing bucks party antics on myself!! Sorry to ruin your fun fellas…..
It’s pretty crap timing with the Pies playing in a Preliminary final tonight, Claire & Paddy’s wedding tomorrow, my birthday on Monday (that’s not a hint by the way!), hopefully the Pies in the GF next week, and of course our wedding in December. At the end of the day it has to be done though, & I’ll have a few weeks to grow some hair back before our big day.
For those that are wondering, yes our wedding is still on at this stage, and unless I have an unusual & unexpected turn then nothing will change. It actually gives Kim & I something to concentrate on to take our focus off this little bump in the road.
So that’s where we are at and all is going OK. Kim has been a wonderful nurse to me & I am absolutely 110% certain that I have asked the perfect woman to marry me. Also our family, friends, & work colleagues who we have advised so far have all been wonderful & supportive too.
All in all our schedule is going to be thrown out a bit by this little episode so we just wanted you to know that we are not being rude or avoiding anybody. We just have to be very cautious that I do not to get ill with flu or anything whilst my immune levels hit rock bottom during chemo. Before you know it we will all be celebrating at our wedding and having a great time and a laugh. I can tell you that we cant wait!
11th October 2011
I just thought I would provide you all with some amusement at my own expense with an update on my progress. I am now in the first week of my second cycle of chemo and have a hairstyle similar to Scott Pendlebury’s after he hacked his dreddies off himself. Just call me “Patches”!
On Friday I was washing my hair in the shower when I noticed that most of my hair was in my hands. Hairy palms are very unbecoming! Kim & I then went to Harvey Norman and got a good set of clippers so that Kim could attack my noggin at her own free will……………and she did!! We started with a #2 cause I was too chicken to go any further first up. Kim and a few others were actually fans of that which is good. I then proceeded to show everyone my latest trick which is pinching small clumps of hair out for the fans. I’ve stopped that now because my hair loss is easy to see. Plus I have patches everywhere now & I made a few people cringe!! He he he……
Here are some pictures so far…
Early days of chemo
22nd November 2011
I thought it timely for my final update so that you all know where things are at. The good news is that I officially finished chemo last week. Yeeehaaa!!! To add to that I have been given the all clear by my Oncologist & don’t have to do anymore tests for 3 months. Double Yeeehaaa!!!
This last cycle was definitely the toughest. I’ve been describing it to people as like having severe jetlag combined with a bad hangover that lasts for about 9 days!! I won’t go into details of my symptoms because I reckon that description sums it up.
So now it’s time to focus on my wedding to my beautiful fiancé & closing my eyes & focusing very hard on forcing hair follicles out the top of my scone! I think the wedding is going to win that race by the looks of things……
I’m back at work and life is slowly getting back to normal. My fitness has a fair way to go to get back to normal though. If I sit still for long enough I think someone will donate me to charity for Christmas as a kids soft teddy bear!!
To those who have been sending well wishes that I haven’t replied to, I do apologize. There were times when I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, couldn’t answer the phone, couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t bare the smell of anything……and the list goes on. Now it’s a hectic combination of getting work back on track and finalizing our wedding preparations. No rest for the wicked hey?!
Thank you to all of you for your support to Kim and I through this wee bump in the road. It really is nice to know how wonderful the people are in our lives and we appreciate it immensely.
Now it’s time to get on with living!!
Here are some pics to finish off with which I thought you might appreciate;
This was the lowest of the low in the middle of my last cycle. I had to push that meal tray away from my bed because (believe it or not) I could smell the water.
Yet another thing I was unable to consume which is why there is a sick bag next to it. To add to the fun of this day I was swollen from all the fluids being pumped into me and it took the nurses five goes to canulate me (ie feed the little inch long plastic tube through a needle into my vein for the chemo). Fun fun!
This is what the nurses wear to protect themselves from the effects of the chemo
before they proceed to pump the stuff straight into my veins!! Surely this stuff can’t be good……
Bye bye cancer centre.
For 3 months anyway. Kim & I were pretty happy to drive away from this place knowing we don’t have to return for a while.
See you all soon at the wedding guys!
4th Decenber 2011
Hey Guys, I thought I would share a photo to confirm that the wedding happened as planned.
We enjoyed an amazing wedding day with our loved ones.
23rd Februray 2012
This is the final note on Glen’s Story.
Glen is back at work operating at 110% like the days that proceeded his brush with cancer. This is a timely reminder that cancer can strike anyone.
To wish Glen well, send him a message, or get a quote or to review your own Trauma Insurance cover.
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