ONJ Centre patient, Mat Baulch, shared part of his cancer journey with ABC Radio Melbourne in the lead up to World Cancer Day last week.
Mat’s illness has meant he’s no longer able to do some of things he loves but explained that he needs to “keep on keeping on”.
“The life I live now is very much dictated by my illness. But I’m alive right now,” Mat said.
“I'm living with cancer, I’m not dying of it yet. I’m still alive and I’m going to do everything I can just to enjoy that.
“One day it will overcome me but right now I want to enjoy life because it’s really precious and I don’t know how much of it I’ve got left," he said.
Last November, Mat sent his family and friends a WhatsApp message to let them know that he received a prognosis that people in his circumstances with advanced metatastic cancer have a life expectancy of about three to nine months.
“I suddenly realised how overwhelming this news was going to be for everyone,” Mat said.
“It’s tough to receive that news and tough to say it out loud. But they’re just statistics and I feel like I’ve got more than three to nine months in me.
“When you have cancer you remember dates really well, and so far I’m close to five months and I think I’m younger so possibly that will put me in good stead to fight a bit longer.
“I think it’s really important you allow people around you to share their feelings as well.
“It isn’t just about me, it’s very much about their experience as well and their feelings of grief and anguish and sadness. And I think it’s important that you allow those close to you feel that and to express it.
“One of things that happens at a time like this is that people come to your house with lots of food. So we had to buy another freezer so that we can fit in all the food we were being delivered!” Mat said.
Penny Sanderson, Divisional Manager, Integrated Cancer Services, said thousands of patients are treated for cancer at the ONJ Centre each year and, just like Mat, they all have a unique story.
“World Cancer Day is always an important opportunity to recognise that cancer touches the lives of so many people,” Penny said.
“The staff at the ONJ Centre provide amazing care to our patients and we continue to adapt and change our services.
“Our new MR Linac machine is providing state of art treatment for patients by combining MRI imaging with radiotherapy treatment to allow our Radiation Oncology team target tumours more precisely.
“This is the only service of its kind in Victoria after the MR Linac was commissioned in late 2021 and it is already making a significant difference in the lives of patients,” she said.
The full interview with Mat, including his thoughts on how important palliative care has been in supporting him and his loved ones, is up on the ABC website (Mat’s interview starts at approximately 24.30).