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“Leukaemia took me to the edge and brought me back”

Shane Dawe was diagnosed with a blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The following are all Shane’s words, shared with the Leukaemia Foundation to help raise awareness of blood cancer during September’s Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2019.

In November of 2018, I presented to emergency in Gladstone with a sinus infection that just wouldn’t go away – even with antibiotics from my GP.

Just under 3 hours later I was on a Royal Flying Doctors’ Service flight to Brisbane where it was confirmed I had AML. I didn’t even know what leukaemia was.

Shane Dawe and partnerFor the next week I was poked and prodded constantly to get my exact makeup of my AML. During this time, I made the mistake of Googling my cancer. I wish I had never done this, as for months after I lived each day expecting not to wake up the next morning.

For 8 months I was either in hospital or at the Leukaemia Foundation village. The first week of chemo didn’t work and my hopes sank. The second week was a stronger treatment and I got into remission.

“Woohoo! It’s over!” … Nope.

The best hope of staying in remission was a Bone Marrow Transplant. While waiting for a donor to be found I had four rounds of consolidation chemo, then I received the news that there was no donor anywhere in the world that matched my rare tissue type.

The lady in the picture with me was my only chance. My Sister was a 50/50 related match and I prepared for a haplo transplant. Twice a day for four days I had Total Body Radiation treatment, then three days of the most hard core chemo I had so far – this was the hardest part of my treatment. It took me to the edge and then brought me back.

I was weak, sick and mentally scarred but I survived. I had to wait for 100 days to see if it worked and hopefully return home with my family.

In July 2019 we left Brisbane and finally headed home.

My fiancé was my carer during the whole ordeal and I would not have survived without her. My boys were strong and we are all now back to school and work. I’m getting stronger every week. There are hurdles along the way but I’m slowly getting back to my old self.

I’m on fortnightly blood tests and specialist appointments and I’m seeing a psychologist to help with my fears and trauma I endured.

If not for the doctors and nurses at the RBWH and the Leukaemia Foundation and all their help, I would not be here today. I’m 45, have an amazing family and look forward to after 14 years, finally getting married in March. Leukaemia gives you that kick in the ass you need to stop putting things off!