Cameron did what everyone does – and the one thing they really shouldn’t do – when they are diagnosed with lung cancer: he googled. The stats were not pleasant reading but then Cameron remembered that’s just the averages and who says you need to be Mr Average?
“I was diagnosed on 3rd January 2020. Happy New Year! You’ve got lung cancer, and it’s spread.
I had two brain tumours, I had cancer on the liver, on the kidney, on my spine. There were a couple of other places too. Believe it or not, I can’t even remember now but basically I had cancer spread around my body, so the diagnosis was horrifying and a complete shock.
I suppose, looking back now with hindsight, I hadn’t felt right for a few months. I’d been in Japan for the Rugby World Cup in October which, as you can imagine, involved a few late night drinking sessions catching up with old friends.
I knew I’d overdone it so, when I came back to Scotland, I just put it down to that – a prolonged hangover! But a couple of weeks passed and I still didn’t feel right. I also developed a cough too so I went to the doctor. They gave me some antibiotics but a couple of months passed and still nothing got better so I went back and that’s when we found out the truth – incurable lung cancer.
Immediately, it was a case of googling which was just a disaster because the statistics are just so poor so, at that point, I believed I had 3 months to live, six if I was lucky.
I started to tell people. I told family. I told my kids which was the worst day of my life. I told my parents, my sisters, my friends. It still gets me now, thinking back to those first couple of days when I had to tell people what was going on but the love and the support that I got from so many people, just lifted me.
What are the positives?
They also helped me take a step back from the situation. They said ‘Right, you’ve got the diagnosis but hold off on the prognosis. Let’s just wait and see what the doctors say. Let’s wait and see what news can come through, what positives we can take from this.’
And they were right because I was then diagnosed as ALK-positive, which is a genetic type of lung cancer. Because I am ALK positive, I can have targeted therapy. Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t a case of having 3 – 6 months to live; my life was extended by years.
I’ve been on targeted therapy now for 6 months. The treatment has gone very very well. I’m on a drug called Alectinib and it has basically wiped out the cancer on my brain. It’s taken away the cancer on my spine. My kidney and my liver are now clear of cancer as well and my main lung tumour has decreased in size. It’s not fully gone but it is going in the right direction. So, in the space of 6 months, I’m not quite cancer free but I’m doing good.
I feel incredibly grateful for modern medicine. I feel grateful for all the love and support of my family to help me to get to this position. I intend to live my life – I’ve got no regrets. I’ve got no fears. If the worst happens tomorrow, I’m going out with a bang. I’m going to live life normally. I’m going to do all the normal things I wanted to do. Cancer is not going to stop me doing stuff. I’m going to live.
Going back generations, you hear of people with lung cancer and you don’t hear about survivors. You don’t hear about the person who was stage 4 and lived. But now with all these modern-day treatments, it’s just amazing. People are living with lung cancer and living well with it.
I will survive. I am surviving, I am living, I’m still here and it feels wonderful to still be here.”