Patients' Stories


Here are stories written by two Southern Highlands patients telling of their own cancer journeys. 

We sincerely thank Yvonne and Alan for sharing their experience with us.

My Cancer Treatment

During September 2011 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and had an operation on 28th October. Following the operation I started chemotherapy at the oncology rooms in Bowral before they were transferred to the new Cancer Centre at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital. The change of venue was done smoothly and professionally as though nothing had changed. The nursing and reception staff performed their duties as usual and continued to be as professional as always, keeping the patients’ spirits up and being positive all the time. The other people involved were the volunteers who also kept the Centre a happy place.

I started the first of eleven sessions of chemotherapy in January 2012 for the bowel cancer which continued every two weeks until May. During this time I also went to the Centre to see the oncologist, Assoc. Prof. Stephen Della-Fiorentina, on a regular basis. Whilst the treatment was happening the atmosphere at the Centre was always one of well-being.

In February 2012 my wife and I were asked if we would like to join a program called “Live Well Now”. It was conducted at the Private Hospital and covered various topics to do with cancer, meditation, emotions, nutrition, sleeping and ways of living well and staying positive. We found that the people presenting the sessions were excellent and all the information would be a distinct advantage during the rest of my term of chemotherapy and in the future. This program was carried out in a wonderfully happy manner and we all enjoyed the atmosphere and made more friends.

At the end of May, scans showed that the cancer had spread to my liver and colon. I had a further operation in June 2012, hoping that this would clear the problem up. I was disappointed that more scans revealed that the cancer was still there and my only option was more chemotherapy. So back to the Cancer Centre for twelve more treatment sessions with visits to the oncologist during this time.

These sessions were, as before, an extremely happy time, thanks to the nursing staff and people at the hospital where I have had a great time and made a lot of friends whom I wish to thank for all their support over the past two years. Special thanks to Jo, Colleen, Emma, Trish, Emma, Cathy and Renita.

Alan Findlay
1st December 2013.

One Woman’s Journey with Lung Cancer

My husband and I were told on 29th January 2013 that I had lung cancer. This was after several months of my feeling that something was wrong. We went into shock, then started tests to see if it might be from asbestos as I came from Holland which had a lot. Also my father renovated every fibro house we had in Australia. They put a camera into my lung and took a biopsy. The next day they went through my back to get a biopsy from the outside of my lung. The pain was not too bad. After breathing tests, I saw the chest specialist on 4th February and had a PET scan at Liverpool Hospital on the 8th. On the next Monday I had a larger lung biopsy and a drain through my back that was very painful, staying in hospital overnight.

I saw Assoc. Professor Della-Fiorentina at the Cancer Centre on the 20th February. By this time, we knew my cancer was caused by smoking, which I had not done for 22 years. The Professor explained everything. I asked if he could cut out the lung but he said no, as the cancer cells were also between the two lungs. Then that question !! “How long did I have to live ?” He said 10 months. We were devastated! He then said some patients respond to treatment. I said “When do we start ?” On 25th February I started chemotherapy. I was so frightened. I did not know what to expect because you hear stories of other people and the after-effects of chemotherapy.

My Journey of Hope was starting. The Sister in charge of the Cancer Centre talked us through every step. I went on a 12-week course of chemo. On the third week I saw the oncologist. In between I developed clots in my leg so now I inject daily to thin my blood. During those 12 weeks I had to miss two chemo sessions as my blood levels were too low. That greatly upset me as I wanted those cancer cells to get the full serving. I had a CT scan and the Professor put me on maintenance chemo every 21 days which targets cancer cells to stop them multiplying. I am still on this course and my last two CT scans show this is working.

So now I have just passed my “use by date”. How good is that ! All through this journey I have never been sick from chemo. I have always looked really well, my husband and I have a loving relationship, I still do all my housework, washing and ironing and enjoy a moderate social life.

My aim at the start of this journey was to stay positive, keep smiling and be thankful for each day. I thank my Great Church Family for all their prayers, all my friends for their concerns, and the staff at the Cancer Centre for their wonderful care. I thank my husband Ian who walks every step with me and my daughter Danielle and family who care deeply for me. I wish you all well in your journey.

Yvonne Carlisle
7th December 2013.