Paul's Story

Each year 2,400 people are diagnosed with cancer in our region and begin their treatment journey with the Andrew Love Cancer Centre, however not all patients treated at the centre have been diagnosed with cancer.

Take Paul. Paul’s journey at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre has spanned over 13 years. Now aged 24, many of the centre staff have watched Paul grow up over the years into the young man he is today.

Diagnosed with aplastic anaemia at only 11 years old, Paul spent most of his adolescent life in  hospital and at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre, enduring more medical procedures and treatment than most people could imagine.

Paul grew up in Geelong and, like most children, loved his footy and sport. Paul enjoyed playing local footy and was one of the athletic stars at his school, known for his speed.

All this changed, however, during a football match when he experienced intense dizziness causing him to lose his balance. This dizziness continued whenever he took part in sport and soon he noticed dark bruises that never seemed to go away.

His mum was deeply concerned when more than 30 bruises appeared on his body, causing her to book an immediate appointment with his GP.

Paul’s GP also expressed concern and after reviewing Paul’s blood test results, explained that he feared Paul had a blood cancer.

“Our GP sat Mum down and said he was worried I had the L-word…Leukaemia. Mum was so upset; we packed our stuff immediately and headed to the Royal Children’s Hospital for further tests and treatment”, Paul said.

After arriving at the Royal Children’s Hospital and undergoing a series of tests, Paul was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia. Often mistaken for leukaemia, aplastic anaemia is a rare disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells..

To treat the illness, a bone marrow transplant was recommended and Paul’s six-year-old sister was found to be a perfect match. The invasive treatment was difficult and painful for both Paul and his sister; however after a round of chemotherapy, Paul was cured, enabling him to live a relatively normal life for almost two years.

When Paul was 13½ the bruises returned and so had the aplastic anaemia. Paul and his younger sister once again endured a second bone marrow transplant and for three years Paul was able to enjoy life as regular teenager: Returning to sport, winning a number of awards at school for running, and he even began gym work, taking up body building. He was the fittest he’d ever been and thought he had the world at his feet.

At 16 everything seemed to be going well until once again the bruises returned, signalling another relapse.

With Paul’s body unable to cope with another bone marrow transplant and a cure no longer an option, Paul has since had to endure blood transfusions twice a week, spending hours every week at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre. This has meant Paul and his carer Wynnie are unable to have a normal life, with most days taken up with doctor’s appointments and treatment sessions.

At only 21 Wynnie is Paul’s full time carer helping him cope with daily life. The friends met at school as teenagers and as Pauls carer, Wynnie often ensures Pauls attends his treatment even if he’s not feeling up to it.

Whilst Paul appreciates the care provided to him by the staff at the Andrew Love cancer Centre, sometimes he doesn’t feel like coming in for treatment, preferring to spend time doing things he loves like tinkering with his car, however missing a treatment is simply not an option.

“If I miss a transfusion, I suffer intense body pain with the pain going through my bones. It feels like electric shocks going through me as I walk down stairs,” Paul explained.

While Paul continues to battle his illness and attend the Andrew Love Cancer Centre weekly, he is passionate about sharing his story to help support #ProjectLove and the redevelopment for the centre.

As a patient of the Andrew Love Cancer Centre for 13 years, Paul has seen a huge increase in demand over the last 18 months, and hopes his support can help make the centre more comfortable for other patients just like him.

“The Andrew Love Cancer Centre is what keeps me alive, and whilst I do sometimes feel like my life is on pause, I wouldn’t be here without the weekly treatment I receive here,” he said.

Following on from the successful Special Care Nursery Project, #Projectlove is a two-year fundraising campaign, raising much-needed funds the redevelopment of the Andrew Love Cancer Centre Chemotherapy Day Ward and Pharmacy. This redevelopment will make a big impact in the lives of people within the Geelong region fighting cancer.

#ProjectLove will be completely community funded and is only made possible with strong local support.

The target is to raise approximately $3 million, to contribute to the redevelopment and to purchase new equipment in both areas of the centre.

To help people in our region like Paul and the 2,400 people diagnosed with cancer each year, show your support by fundraising or donating now to #ProjectLove

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