Nick Willetts has battled through diagnoses of blood cancer and a brain tumour, and now he's calling for more support groups in the Dubbo area to help people like him find others in the same boat.
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"It would be nice to have more support because nobody checks on you," Mr Willetts told the Daily Liberal.
He continued: "Once you get cancer and you've been in hospital for so long, a few people come and see you and all that kind of gear, your friends or whatever, they drop in and say good day and that.
"But it's like you've got a disease - and you have - but it's like you've got a disease and like, I suppose it's pretty hard."
September is Blood Cancer Month and the Leukaemia Foundation is sharing the important message that there is help out there for people who are diagnosed and their families.
The organisation wants to make sure no one is alone through a blood cancer diagnosis.
Since Mr Willetts was going through treatment, the foundation has launched a new hotline - which came online in 2022 - to provide dedicated support for all Australians living with blood cancer and their loved ones.
Like many others with blood cancer, Mr Willetts' journey has been a long and stressful one.
In 2014, the former panel beater and spray painter was feeling "a bit tired out on the road" when he had a micro-sleep.
"I was getting really tired and that was due to my haemoglobin being very low," he said.
He was diagnosed with adrenal gland cancer with tumours on both his adrenal glands, which "affects your testosterone and all your emotions, and a lot of other things in your body".
Chemotherapy fought the tumours, and he was placed on steroids. However, shortly afterwards, he was also diagnosed with lymphoma, for which he underwent another bought of treatment.
Within a year, Mr Willetts was in remission. However, in 2015, the lymphoma was back - not only that, but there was also a brain tumour in tow.
"I went to get in the car one day and I lifted up my leg and my right leg just gave out from underneath me for no reason," Mr Willetts said.
That night he went to the local golf club in Dubbo and the same thing happened on the steps outside. The next day, he fell over in his garden. Then later, another fall in his house.
"That was the brain tumour apparently. Then all my words went slurry ... " he said.
Mr Willetts was flown by the Royal Flying Doctors Service to Sydney where he underwent a stem cell transplant. He has been in remission from cancer since 2015.
During his lengthy treatments, Mr Willetts found the emotional toll just as hard to bear as the physical toll on his body. He had separated from his partner by the time he was in hospital and what kept him going was thinking about his children.
"I actually hated being or laying in the bed [in hospital] because I'm not a reader. It was just like you look at the window and think about things and I always said to myself, I'm not going anywhere because of my girls," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS
According to the Leukaemia Foundation, seven in 10 people with blood cancer face emotional challenges.
Almost 40 per cent have a lot of questions or feel completely uncertain about their diagnosis, and access to the right information and supportive care can lead to a better quality of life and a higher chance of survival for blood cancer patients, the foundation states.
The foundation states 53 Australians will be diagnosed with blood cancer every day this year.
Call Australia's dedicated blood cancer support line on 1800 620 420 or visit bloodcancer.org.au to connect with a blood cancer support professional.
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