John's journey with Essential Thrombocythaemia.
John Lind has been self-employed for most of his life, dipping his toes into numerous forms of business, many of which still exist today. He has always been a hard worker, and enjoys swimming and golf.
However, after a heart attack in 2001, John has experienced a series of health problems over the last few years.
In 2005 he had a transient ischaemic attack or TIA. A TIA happens when the blood supply to the brain is blocked temporarily. Sometimes called mini-strokes, a TIA greatly increases the risk of someone experiencing a stroke.
John’s TIA led to a diagnosis of Essential Thrombocythaemia, or ET, in 2007. ET is a disorder in which too many platelets are produced in the bone marrow. Platelets are needed in the body to control bleeding. However, excess numbers of platelets can lead to abnormal blood clotting which can block the flow of blood in the vessels.
The majority of people with ET will need some form of treatment to reduce their platelet count and therefore their risk of thrombosis. For people at high risk of thrombosis, chemotherapy is often used, as in John’s case.
Over the next few years John developed numerous skin cancers, most likely exacerbated by his chemotherapy medications for ET. Most of these were removed without issue however, in May 2017 a squamous cell carcinoma on his ear returned in his neck and lymph nodes.
John was referred urgently to Professor Jonathan Clark at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney for a parotidectomy to remove the cancer.
GETTING BACK TO GOLF
Surgery was followed by five weeks of radiation therapy under Professor Chris Milross.
“A never to be forgotten experience, especially the Frank Sinatra music during sessions, soon rectified by understanding staff, perhaps I look like a Sinatra fan!”
He also experienced difficulty in swallowing, restricted movement and a temporary loss of taste.
“I could hardly recognise many of my favourite foods. This lasted for quite some time but gradually returned and it is mostly back to normal.”
John maintains his level of fitness with swimming, light weights and golf. An avid golfer he found the restriction of movement greatly affected his game, and even his swimming. But he still plays three to four times a week, “more in the Happy Gilmore style than Tiger Woods”. This routine combined with a good diet and not too much alcohol is very important to him.
“My journey has been incredible and the care and attention provided by all nursing staff and ancillary medical staff has been above and beyond!”
He gives special mention to Professor Milross, Professor Clark and his outstanding assistant Cate Froggatt for the surgery, communication and ongoing attention and treatment and also Dr Scott Dunkley his haematologist who monitored his blood cancer for 12 years.
CHASING THE NEXT BIRDIE
John found talking to doctors to be the most helpful and advises “not reading too much of what Google has to offer.”
He has a tremendous respect for all the staff at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital who have cared for him along this journey.
His is more than aware of the effect this has had on his own team - his family.
“This team has a rock at the centre of it - my wife. She is amazing. She never lets me get off track or feel sorry for myself. I’m so proud and lucky to have her as an incredible wife and mother to our children.”
“I sometimes feel depressed but when you attend the hospital you quickly realise that everybody has a story to tell. My golf isn’t what it used to be but I have a sign in my golf cart that says Expect a Miracle - you just never know!, My next birdie is just around the corner!”
Or maybe even an albatross. John definitely has the drive.
Thank you John for sharing your story.
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