Hi! My name is Meegan, I am 55 years young. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband Peter for nearly 36 years and together we are on this journey of Hope. We live in Penrith NSW, which is about 50 kilometres or 30 odd miles west of Sydney at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. In February it will be 3 years since I received my “magic beads” or SIRSpheres and chemotherapy. In November last year I had a PET scan which showed “no evidence of FDG avid disease.” That would have to be the greatest news we’ve had in the past three years!! I see this journey as a gift as although I have been very sick at times I have gained a great deal and have done things that wouldn’t have been happening for a few years or not at all. So I count myself very blessed.
I used to donate blood and it’s because my haemoglobin level was rather low that I was referred to my doctor, I also happened to mention it to a doctor when having a pre employment medical, he suggested an FOB test. Eventually my doctor arranged for me to have a colonoscopy after I returned a positive FOB Test. October 27th 2004 was the day my life changed I went in for a colonoscopy and I woke to have the doctor showing
a lovely photo of a tumour in the transverse section of my bowel. It’s funny but I didn’t even think cancer when he mentioned a tumour I was sent for a CT scan the next day, which confirmed that I had the added bonus of 8 or 9 tumours of varying size in my liver. Peter wasn’t with me when I was told the news, I went numb, dissolved into tears pulled myself together, was told that I was lucky - that if it had been five years previous I would have been told to go home and make the most of my time. The surgeon told me that he wanted to operate the next day so we discussed things and then I left in a state of shock to drive to Pete’s work to tell him. Pete took one look at me and just said where else is it. I just held onto him and sobbed. There are things about that day that are clear as a bell and others that I can’t recall with clarity. I then had the task of telling our girls, Jodi then 30 and Rebekka 27, my parents, my brother, and friends that hey tomorrow I’m going to hospital for an operation because I’ve got cancer.
My surgeon Dr Simon Chew, removed a 10cm section of bowel along with the accompanying tumour and lymph nodes via keyhole surgery. To have all that happen in three days, to try and come to terms with it, put on a brave front, was an ordeal in itself.
One month later the day after my 52nd birthday, I was scheduled to see Dr Jenny Shannon one of the medical oncologists at Nepean Cancer Care Centre. Peter came with me; he’s my rock, he has remained positive throughout our journey.
We were told that without any treatment I might have 6 – 9 months, with chemo alone up to 15 months and if I was willing to take part in a Sir Spheres study we could have maybe two years at a stretch. The study was a combination of Selective Internal Radiation Therapy and a concoction of 3 different types of chemotherapy 5FU, Oxaliplatin & Leucovorin. When you're told that you have x amount of time left to live it knocks the bloody stuffing out of you. After ruling out a liver resection following a discussion with a local liver surgeon who outlined the dangers to me, I opted for the SirSpheres trial - 1 dose of SirSpheres and 12 cycles of chemo. I have had a small leakage of SIRT into my stomach and as a consequence developed an ulcer, something I am more that happy to live with. Things have happened to my liver at different stages to others on the study and I’m a bit of a novelty for the medical team and Sirtex. I had a rather rough time while on the chemo and lost 10 kilos (22lb) dropping to 57 kilo (125 lb) not good when your 5’ 8’’. I had 3 blood transfusions, it was amazing to watch the colour come back into me. It turned out that the tablets that I was taking to stop me being sick prior to the chemo treatment was actually making me sick. I have developed Ascites as a result of damage to the liver caused by SIRT, however with medication I am able to keep it in check.
I have CT scans each three months along with blood tests and every four months visit a liver specialist who has taken an interest in my case and according to my GP is amazed that I am still alive.
It is now over FOUR years since my cancer diagnosis and in February it will be 3 years since I received SIR-Spheres and started my chemotherapy. My original liver tumours have shrunk and are now stabilised, with no evidence of active cancer at this stage, so I’m in “ongoing remission”. Recently Peter and I flew to Melbourne, Victoria to give weight to the announcement by Sirtex of the next stage of the study being conducted Australia wide, gaining coverage in the print and TV news across the country. I figure the more people who know about it the better. I am due to have blood tests and another CT scan in March. God willing I will be around for a few more years to come.