TO THE passing eye, Paul Hughes is a picture of health.
It’s something he occasionally feels guilty about.
The 57-year-old Jane Brook safety worker was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2017, after a blood test revealed it wasn’t his haemochromatosis causing his persistent fatigue.
A colonoscopy revealed a cancerous tumour, surrounded by polyps, in his bowels.
After removing roughly 30 centimetres of the organ, doctors were confident they had seen the last of the cancer, until a scan revealed cancer cells all over his liver.
While chemotherapy successfully destroyed the cells, Paul knows that because the cancer has spread, it is only a matter of time before it returns.
He was given two years to live from the date of his initial diagnosis, and coming up on the one year anniversary of that diagnosis, he said he only occasionally thinks about the diagnosis.
It helps that his current course of chemotherapy, to “manage”, not cure – is being delivered a mere ten minutes from his home, at Midland’s Icon Cancer Centre.
Paul was the first patient to be treated at the Midland Centre after transferring from Subiaco, and he says the convenience is helping with his positive attitude, despite his diagnosis.
“I’m lucky that the chemo isn’t really having much of an impact on my body,” he said.
“I’ve got some nerve damage in my fingers and the soles of my feet, and I tire easily but apart from that, I’m okay.
“I mean I look like the picture of health, and I’ve got friends with breast cancer and chemo has ruined them, so I feel quite guilty about that, I can’t help it.
“Transferring from Subiaco to Midland though, it’s been fantastic.
“I’ve gotten to know the people there, my wife brings in cupcakes when she bakes, things like that.
“I’ve told them I’d prefer to not know them.
“It helps the Icon centre is so close, I mean I had blood in my eye the other day, and rather than having to call Subiaco and try and get in down there, I can just pop into Midland and they can sort it out for me.”
Paul is staying positive, regularly walking his dog Florence and trying to stay busy in the garden, but it’s not being able to work that has been the hardest thing to deal with.
“I was working FIFO in Auckland when I got the diagnosis, and I can’t get the treatment in Auckland,” he said.
“I’d try and get a job in Australia, but who’s going to employ a 57-year-old with a terminal cancer diagnosis who has to take off every three weeks for chemotherapy?
“I keep busy, I’ve been doing a lot of reading I get out and about with the dogs.
“I’m just going to spend the time I’ve got left with my family, and keep living.”