In July 2021 the tooth in my lower right jaw started bleeding. After unsuccessful home remedy attempts, I went to see my dentist. By this point the bleeding had increased, so the tooth was removed, and I was advised that I should see improvement within 24 hours.
Four days later I returned to the Dentist and was referred to a specialist Dental Surgeon. However, before being contacted by the surgeon I received an unexpected call from a doctor in the Gold Coast University Hospital, Maxillofacial Outpatients, and I was asked to come to the Hospital the next day for further investigation.
The following day at the hospital I had discussions with several doctors, before a biopsy sample was taken. My anxiety levels started increasing. Three days later I received the call that I had bone cancer. I was stunned and in disbelief and from there, things happened so fast, I felt like I was along for a ride I didn’t want to be on. Then I was told I needed to be referred to another hospital.
And so, the process started again this time with John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. What was a 45min trip to treatment suddenly became a seven-hour drive. It seemed absurd and unacceptable, what do you do in this situation?
My anxiety levels started rising even more from the delays and changes. Each morning I got up looked in the mirror and could see the cancer growing. I was frightened. But there wasn’t time, not when there are forms to be filled in, decisions to be made – how was I going to get to Newcastle? How will my wife communicate on her own with her improving but still limited English, what about border closures and COVID, a multitude of concerns needing my attention. Then, I was given the number for the Northern office of Cancer Council NSW.
CCNSW arranged for me to be transported from my home to the Airport. Then at Newcastle I was met by a gentleman from the Newcastle Transport to Treatment service. He transported me to treatments and appointments, and even offered to purchase personal items and bring them to the Hospital. Before finally transporting me to Newcastle airport for my return flight home.
These things may seem simple on the outside. For me, they are not. I was no longer facing this alone, I had support. My anxiety levels dropped and rather than several worries vying for my attention I was able to concentrate on being a good patient and recovering as quickly as possible.