‘It isn’t going to be easy, but it is going to be okay’
Little did he know that after seeing his GP for a sore hip, Emerald miner Shannon Friedrich would be diagnosed with lymphoma just weeks before Christmas.
In mid-2014, the 37-year-old underground coal miner experienced what he describes as a pinched nerve in his groin and passed it off as an old gym injury flaring up. “I didn’t really think much of it and I thought it would go away by resting it between shifts,” Shannon (pictured left) said.
“My GP told me I had most likely pulled a muscle and that I should take some time off work.”
But when the pain continued to get worse to the point where he couldn’t walk, Shannon knew that something wasn’t right.
After two MRIs in Rockhampton, followed by a bone biopsy and liver biopsy in Brisbane, Shannon was given the news he never expected to hear: you have aggressive stage-four non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I was floored. I had come down to Brisbane for the biopsy with just a small overnight bag, to find out that I would have to stay for months of chemotherapy treatment,” Shannon said.
“Although it was a huge shock, I was glad to finally know why I had been in pain for so long,” he said.
“One of the hardest things I had to deal with when I was diagnosed was what I was going to do about my life back in Emerald.
“Thankfully someone told us about the Leukaemia Foundation and within moments of my brother Nathan calling them, someone was back in contact with us offering me, my fiancé Tahnee and my family support and a place to stay.
“It was just incredible. There is no way we could have gotten through those early moments without that help.
“Without that we would be completely lost, I can’t describe how thankful I am.”
A keen boxing enthusiast, Shannon is determined to ‘enter the ring’ against lymphoma with an attitude of positivity.
“It would be easy to be negative about all of this but to me, it’s just another challenge I need to overcome,” Shannon said.
“Negativity generates negativity, as well as feeding the feeling of despair. It is about being emotionally wise and that will have a significant impact on your journey as well as your outcome,” he said.
Helping to beat blood cancer
His positivity has inspired his family members, too, with his older brother, Nathan (pictured right), shaving his head in March for World’s Greatest Shave.
Shannon and his family are currently staying at our Clem Jones-Sunland Village while he undergoes treatment. If all goes well, Shannon will do the honours of shaving his brother’s head at the village on Thursday 12 March at 2pm.