Damien Wilmot was 52, newly married and had just started a new job when he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2017.
“I had felt a little under the weather and in retrospect at the time I was feeling quite fatigued. I was falling asleep at work which is unlike me and I had a cough I couldn’t get rid of,” he said.
“They found some abnormal liver readings and after a pet scan they found a nine centimetre lump in my stomach – I had a five day break before I had an appointment at the ONJ Centre to find out what was wrong. They told me it was lymphoma and it was treatable.”
Scared and concerned about what the future held, Damien commenced treatment straight away, which included six rounds of chemo and participation in a clinical drug trial.
In February last year he was told there was no sign of cancer left in his body, which brought relief, but also a feeling of not knowing who he was anymore.
“I was really scared of what was the new me and I needed help to work that out. I had a discussion with the survivorship coordinator at the ONJ Centre about the services I might need. I had particular help with a psych and the sexual health nurse which was fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of these wellness aspects – it helped me and certainly the fact I’m relatively sane is to do with the support of those people,” he said.
Damien is now going to the gym regularly to help try and improve his muscle strength and said life was good.
In recognition of World Cancer Day today his message for anyone – in particular middle aged men – is clear.
“Look after yourself – do it for yourself and do it for those that you love. If you’re ill, don’t think they’re the aches and pains of life. I did and it almost cost me my life. Go and see a GP to run full blood tests, it doesn’t require any kind of specialist.”