Third time unlucky
“YOU’VE got cancer”.
Tony Woods has heard these words not once, but three times – and this time, the stakes are higher.
Treatment for his previous two cancers caused great financial hardship. He was unable to work and lost his pizza business, and he is facing tough times yet again.
A community campaign has been launched to help the Loch man pay more than $18,000 in medical and other bills.
Friend Janice Orchard, an artist from The Gurdies, has initiated an online fundraising campaign to ease Tony’s financial plight.
“There is help out there but it’s not enough. I’ve never been one to ask for help,” Tony said.
Just nine days before Christmas last year, Tony was diagnosed with two forms of lymphoma – Hodgkins with markers for Non-Hodgkins, the latter being rare and hard to treat. This diagnosis took seven months to reach after to-ing and fro-ing within the medical system.
Seven days later, on Christmas Eve, his dog Grace died of lymphoma.
Aged 48, the devastating news has been compounded by the effect of his previous two battles with cancer.
In 2004, aged 34, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and endured six months of chemotherapy.
He thought he had beaten the cancer then but four years later, he began coughing up blood and spent the next nine months visiting specialists in a bid to find an answer.
Doctors found a lump of three by three centimeters in his lung but said it was not cancer, yet a GP later found otherwise and the lump was then 14cm.
Tony was diagnosed with lung cancer, believed to have originated from his previous bowel cancer.
He was given two months to live.
Surgeons received as much of his right lung as possible and Tony endured six months of intensive chemotherapy, followed by radiation.
After 13 treatments, his organs began to fail but the treatment conquered the cancer and Tony again began to look forward to a fresh chapter in his life.
He and now fiancée Kathryn moved from Frankston to Loch and looking forward to their wedding this November. He was working in a new job as an account manager with a waste management company and was succeeding.
Then in May last year, he found a lump in his neck. Despite his medical history, doctors refused to investigate.
It was not until Tony presented at the Alfred Hospital after many phone calls pleading for help that his plight was clear. The latest cancer was possibly caused by previous treatments.
He underwent surgery yet again, with lumps removed from his neck and armpit, and he is now embarking on another round of chemo and the awful side effects it entails: vomiting, nausea, fatigue, shivers, difficulty breathing and pain throughout his body.
Unable to work and with a mortgage, medical bills and travel costs to pay, Tony and Kathryn are facing financial hardship again.
Kathryn is Tony’s carer and they have to replace a vehicle to get Tony to treatment after losing it in a crash two months ago.
“We have gone from both being professionals and now I’m caring for Tony fulltime. The carer’s allowance is inadequate,” she said.
Costs will continue to mount. The couple is pursuing all avenues through Tony’s superannuation and government assistance but there are so many waiting times, with no guarantees of receiving financial help.
“Yet Tony always smiles. He knows there’s always someone worse off,” Kathryn said.
► To donate to Tony Wood’s cause, go to www.gofundme.com/tonys-rally-against-cancer-round-3.
Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=20877