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I’ve always been into sports so I’m used to hurting myself every now and then. So when my knee got swollen I didn’t think much of it, thinking the swelling would go down in a few days. I continued my normal routine and although it didn’t hurt to walk on it, it did hurt when I ran. Two weeks passed and the swelling didn’t go away so my parents and I decided to go to the doctors.
We took X-rays and they found something, so I was sent to Taranaki Base Hospital where I did an MRI, CT bone scan and blood tests. A lot was happening and to be honest I wasn’t really paying much attention to it. I don’t remember lots about that time and when the doctor told my parents and me that I had osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, my reaction was delayed. Even today I don’t think it has fully set in that I had cancer.
I was sent to Starship to begin my treatment which started mid to late January. My chemotherapy began which was a mixture of drugs including methotrexate, cisplatin and more which made me nauseous and lose my hair and eye brows.
I had to undergo surgery because the tumour was very close to my knee joint, to which they then inserted a titanium plate. That surgery left me numb for the next two days from my waist down which was not a nice feeling being unable to move or feel anything at all.
During this time whilst I was in Auckland, I received support from my friends and family who were back home in New Plymouth. I received gifts and cards when I was away and massive hugs when I got to go home. Although I had changed a bit I was still the same me on the inside. People still treated me as the same Casey.
I still love being active, and so physiotherapy will help me get more use from my knee, making it easier to bend. It’s a bit annoying that I can’t play hockey or that I might not be able to go horse riding but I’ve remained strong and am working towards getting my fitness back.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with was when I was at a dangerous weight because I felt nauseous. They had to insert a feeding tube. It was uncomfortable and I couldn’t eat properly with it in. Twice the feeding tube made me continually sick. The first time it happened they gave me drugs to try to help - they didn’t. The second time it happened the nurse had to pull out the tubes because it had moved.
Throughout my treatment lots of information has been thrown my way and even more treatment and hospital experiences to match. It’s almost too much and I may have blocked out a lot to help cope with it, relying and trusting in my mum and the health professionals. You have to. I’ve been fortunate to have great doctors and nurses to advocate for me to ensure I get the best treatment. My dad passed away five years ago which was a challenge without him here to support my sister and I. It’s these life challenges that create moments you never forget. He’s been in our thoughts throughout.
It’s a scary time for everyone involved and a lot of information to take in but I stayed strong, not letting it get me down, knowing that there would be light at the end of this tunnel. After it all I would get back to normal life.
CanTeen have helped me achieve that. I was visited by a staff member whilst I was in Starship who told me a bit about CanTeen and what they do. It sounded really fun and hearing stories of what others like me were going through made it an easy decision to join. Since joining I’ve met a few members and they’ve helped me get back into normal life by just giving me back a social life that was interrupted by cancer, treatments and surgeries.
By staying strong, I could get through treatment and keep moving forward.
Casey - Taranaki