Among those is Baldivis man Wes McClelland who, along with his supportive family, will join this weekend’s HBF Run for a Reason in a wheelchair.
It was in January Wes was told he had non-Hodgkin large b cell lymphoma.
‘Nothing could have prepared us for the devastating news that Wes had cancer,’ Ms McClelland said.
‘Fear, shock and disbelief turned into a self-analysis of how and why.’
Mrs McClelland’s message to others was to make sure you visited your GP if you felt unwell, had a lump or any other possible signs of cancer.
‘Being a man, Wes typically ignored his symptoms of pain, bloated stomach and tiredness, putting it down to working too hard or eating too much,’ she said.
It was an agonising two months of blood tests, painful liver biopsies and a bone marrow biopsy from the date of diagnosis until the McClellands found out Wes had lymphoma ” an aggressive blood cancer.
‘The fear of the unknown, fear of dying and fear of chemotherapy were very much in the foreground but Wes had a positive spirit to not let it beat him,’ she said.
Chemotherapy treatment means a six-day stay in Fremantle Hospital on a drip, as the treatment is so toxic Wes can’t leave.
‘The week after chemo, he is house bound, as he becomes neutropenic (low white blood cell count) and risks getting infections,’ she said.
‘He feels sick, weak and has lost 12kg.’
Mrs McClelland said he would gradually feel a little better before having to return to hospital to start the treatment cycle again, and that it was emotionally devastating to watch her husband suffer.
‘To watch a loved one suffer the pain of chemo, lose so much weight you hardly recognise them and know all you can do is offer love and support during this very difficult time is exhausting and frustrating,’ she said.
‘Our lives have changed forever, we will always live in cancer’s shadow but we will not let it break our spirit.
‘If we can save even one life by getting our message out there, then we have done our job.’
Wes’s daughter Caitlyn set up the HBF Run for a Reason team, Wes’s Warriors, hoping to raise $5000 to help cancer research.