Hi everyone I would like to share my journey with you, to give strength to others. In February 2002 I was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma a very rare & aggressive cancer. My MCC had metastasised from the primary site in the middle of my chest to a lymph node under my left arm, stage two. I also had removed 3 SCC's & BCC's. My treatment for MCC consisted of Carboplatin, Etoposide Chemo & Radiation, jointly. I have ten radiation tattoos on my upper body. It wasn't an easy trip. Thanks' to my carer Dr Peter O'Brien from the Mater Hospital Newcastle a member of TROG. Transtasman Radiation Oncology Group had finished trials on Merkel Cell Carcinoma six months earlier. Their trials & treatment saved my life. I can't thank the staff at the Mater Newcastle enough, for their professionalism & compassion during my five years of treatment there. Just when I thought the clouds had cleared three years down the track. I went for my three year checkup, still clear. I was over the moon, you don't usually get that far with MCC. I knew I was on the right road to survival. Two days later, my husband was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer - Muscle Invasive, that was March 2005. My world once again collapsed. I kept saying this can't be happening, not again. I felt over the last three years I had clawed my way up this steep dark muddy hole, as I reached the top & felt the sun on my face the mud gave way & I fell right back down to the bottom, just to start the climb all over again. My husband had two operations, the first operation to remove the tumour. The second operation was nearly thirteen hours, he was lucky enough to have received a Neobladder, that's where doctors removed 42cm of his bowel & reconstructed a new bladder from his bowel, joining it up to his internal plumbing. It's now three years since his operation, he's had a few hiccups along the way, so far so good. Another visit to his oncologist in December. Then, yes, there's more. January this year 2008 another three years on, my brother was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, by the time he was diagnosed the cancer had metastasised to his liver. He passed away twelve week's later on April 1st, 2008. My grandfather died of carcinoma of the stomach, my father of a Melanoma, my cousin of lung cancer, that's now six family members diagnosed with cancer. Update: My Aunt has just been diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, Metastasised to her liver. Diagnosed 7/2008. That now seven family members diagnosed with cancer, two with bowel cancer this year. Having a full physical checkup, I can't stress this point enough. Early detection is the biggest cure. The moral of this story is, early detection, skin checks essential, that's when my MCC was found, I was at the cross roads. I made the right turn on the road by having regular checkups. That's why my husband & I are still here today with the help of great medical staff. I hope you will do the same, go today, don't delay. Merkel
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