My Story. By Campbell Ross

My Story. By Campbell Ross

My journey began at the start of 2015. I had proposed to my now wife Kacey the previous year and we had all our wedding details for April that year finalised. Things were going well. I had landed a career at theShell/VIVA Geelong Refinery after 10 years with GMHolden and we were halfway through renovating our country property.

One morning, my then fiancé Kacey and I met at our Minister’s house to go over details of our up coming wedding. While waiting out the front of her house, I stretched and noticed a lump at the base of my neck, just above my collarbone. Surprised, I mentioned it to Kacey and without hesitation she rang up our local clinicand made me attend. To be honest, if it were up to me, I would have waited some time hoping it would go away. The next week or two involved an ultrasound then aneedle biopsy. After the biopsy, I was told I would findout in a week or so the outcome. When the phone rang the day after to come into the doctor’s clinic, I knew deep down it was something more than a simple cyst. When my GP told me the results that I had a type oflymphoma, it didn’t really sink in. Not until I heard the words “blood cancer” and “chemotherapy”. The next fewweeks involved many scans, surgery to remove lymph nodes for testing and an appointment with Dr David Kippnodes for testing and an appointment with Dr David Kippat Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre.

The constant tiredness and weightloss that I had put down to shiftwork, combined with regular night sweats, now ticked all the boxes for symptons of lymphoma. There were some ups and downs at the start. Finding outI had a 9cm mass in my chest was surprising but when a bone marrow biopsy revealed we had caught it early,some relief was felt.

The hardest day was when the test results came backthat I actually had a rare type of T cell lymphoma, Anaplastic large cell Lymphoma. My life was about to be turned upside down and I was given a 50 per cent chance of surviving. Our plans of getting married and starting a family would have to work around six months of intensive chemo therapy (hyper C-VAD), followed by a stem cell transplant and radiation therapy. We brought our wedding forward to the start of March and cancelled our Cook Islands honeymoon. Instead of relaxing on a beach, I was laying on a bed having a tube inserted in my chest that would deliver the lifesaving but sickening treatment for the next six months. Week long stints at University Hospital Geelong and daily visits to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre were now part of everyday life.

Some would have called us crazy but as starting a family would now only happen with the help of IVF, we began the process at the same time. Halfway through my treatment a PET scan and a blood test would return the greatest news we could imagine. I was in remission and Kacey was pregnant with our future son Mac. The remaining months of my treatment were tough but knowing that I had to get better so that I could become a dad drove me to accept whatever I had to do to achieve it.

"I can never thank the team of doctors,I can never thank the team of doctors,nurses and staff at University Hospital Geelong and Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre enough for the care they gave me and still continue to provide two years on. They made what seemed like a life sentence at the time feel like a bump in the road. I have met, and continue to meet, many great people throughout my journey."

The most prominent was a great man Scott Beyer. Scottw as also 29 when diagnosed with a blood cancer and had battled through the exact same intensive chemotherapy that I had to. He took it upon himself to coach me through my treatment, telling me what to expectand putting my mind at ease as I progressed through each stage - something that no one else could do. His messages and reassurance kept me up beat and took away the fear of the unknown. Scott was a previous DryJuly Ambassador and at the time I met him was fighting the toughest fight against a relapsed, extremely rare,T cell lymphoma. I was devastated when Scott lost his battle in 2016, leaving behind his wife Corrine and two young girls, Ava and Sophie. His determination and will to fight, while also helping others is a memory that will live on and will continue to encourage others to raise much needed funds for such a worthy cause.

Witnessing Scott’s fight is what drove me to fundraise almost twenty thousand dollars last year for a family room in the brand new Andrew Love Cancer Centre’sOncology Day Ward at Barwon Health.

The family room will be named ‘The Beyer Family Space’ in memory of my friend Scott Beyer. We are delighted that his legacy will continue with this space and we are looking forward to seeing this project, that has been completed thanks to the amazing community of Geelong, come to life.

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