Sex: Male. Age at diagnosis: 44 Age at death 45
Family history of intestinal polyps or colorectal cancer: None
Baz had right shoulder tip pain on and off for a couple of weeks in June 2017 and one incident where he fainted. When he roused the pain was gone.
He travelled from Australia to London for work a week later in July 2017 and was fine but returned home to a pain in his ribs that felt like a pulled muscle on his right side.
I (his wife) insisted he follow up the blood work his doctor had ordered after his fainting episode, and it revealed a liver in failure. More tests to check and it was worse only a few days later.
A chest x-ray and ultrasound were ordered revealing suspect masses in his liver. Next was an abdominal CT Scan which also showed a small bowel lesion. He was rushed in for a colonoscopy the same week and a 15mm polyp was located and biopsied confirming adenocarcinoma on August 24 2017. He was KRAS mutant and the polyp was located on the left side descending close to Baz’s sigmoid colon. Two other benign and smaller polyps were noted, one sigmoid and the other right side.
After a rapid consult with a leading bowel surgeon in Perth, a staging PET scan was ordered and Baz lights up like a Christmas tree. Liver, ribs, spine, sacrum, hip..... but primary invisible.
So now they suspect two cancers! Biopsy the liver and confirm its all from the tiny bowel lesion. And to add insult to injury, bilateral pulmonary embolisms were also detected- and Baz was rushed back to hospital for blood thinners and monitoring.
At this point, with no treatment he will die in weeks, if the PE’s don’t shift and finish him earlier.
Thankfully he commences and responds to treatment - FOLFOX + Avastin 12 rounds and also SIRT concurrent with last round. Then Xeloda + Avastin for three months before progression again May 2018.
Baz managed two rounds FOLFIRI but his platelets collapsed and multiple transfusions barely helped.
Pain management was always complex and a delicate balance between relief and coherence. His palliative care pain specialist was a rock star and answered every call and every question from us.
Increasing back pain and decreasing mobility lead to an MRI revealing pathological fractures in five vertebrae and a 5cm tumour invading his back muscles and nerve at T13.
Radiation treatment provided some relief for him. But at that point, Baz is now wheelchair bound with DVT in one leg causing swelling, and failing liver causing much abdominal fluid.
Two infections saw him nearly die, but he held on for another few weeks until his much loved brother and family arrived from the US to spend 6 days together before we kissed him goodbye on July 3 2018.
He is loved and cherished in my heart, his son Jack 14yo, his daughter Amy 12yo, his parents, brother, our families and a wide and supportive community who care for us and remember him as a great bloke.
He did everything he could and more to survive. He smiled and joked with his carers and all of us to ease the pain on those around him.... despite his own pain.
He is my love and the bravest man I have had the honour to love and care for.
Never Too Young Awareness Week
WHAT: A dedicated week (3-9 June 2019) during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month honouring people who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer under the age of 50 and are now living with or beyond the disease, as well as honouring the memory of those who have passed away from young-onset bowel cancer. Sharing photos and stories to raise community awareness of bowel cancer and provide support to young people diagnosed with the disease.
WHEN: Held annually in June each year.
WHY: 1,413 Australians under the age of 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and that number is growing. We’re not okay with that. You’re not either. Let’s shout it out and shake things up.
WHO: If you are living with or beyond young-onset bowel cancer or are a loved one - we’d love you to join our community of #Never2Young Champions, and to encourage your friends, family and everyone else you know (and maybe even people you don’t) to support Never Too Young Awareness Week too.
Register now to become a #Never2Young Champion and help us spread the word that you’re never too young to have bowel cancer this Never Too Young Awareness Week.
We'll send you further details on how you can get involved, as well as a copy of the latest Never Too Young Awareness Week sign for you to share.