ROBERT (SCOTT) McLEAN'S STORY OF SURVIVAL

A message from Scott McLean* of Warrnambool, Australia. 25 August 2003 -

Hi Denis, I will try to do my best to get to Melbourne I just have quite a bit on at the moment, if I do manage to get there I will make myself known to you.  If I dont get down I can tell people about some aspects of my story if you think that it may be helpful. 

I was 23 and had just finished my trade certificate in welding, shifted 500 kms from home to further my career as a welder and had been suffering major headaches for about two weeks. I would also take a kind of a fit were I would 'phase out' and come to again which would last for a few seconds. I had had these fits for a number of years but I really didn't think much of them (I just felt like I was staring) and others though I was daydreaming.

One Saturday night in 1995 I was rushed to hospital from the pain of the headaches by my now brother in law. Monday I had a cat scan and was diagnosed with a tumor on the cerebellum the size of an egg yolk and rushed to Royal Melbourne Hospital.

From more tests I was given the prognosis that after surgery I would be paralyzed down my left-hand side but that may get better after a lot of physiotherpy as the tests showed that the tumor had eaten into the brain a decent amount .

The operation went for roughly 9 hrs. Twelve hours later when the Doctor and surgeon saw me I was up out of bed walking like nothing had happened. To say they were amazed is to put it mildly. News from the surgeon came back however that I had a gbm (glioblastoma multiforme) and given its stage I had 3 months to 1 year at best but that would be pushing it.

My father was with me at the time and was very upset as memories of my mother dying of cancer was fresh in our minds as it happened a year before. I looked the surgeon fair in the face and said 'I don't care what you say God's going to heal me and I'm going to be one of those blokes you read about in your journals'. From his startled look I don't think he got comments like this very often.

After being discharged I went to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre two-three weeks later and started radiation treatment. I was violently ill a few hours after having my first treatment. I remember looking at my file and seeing in big red letters: 'extremely high radiation'.

I stayed with some friends in a motel not far from the hospital. I would wander up in the morning, get zapped, wander back, be sick and try to sleep. I was meant to get 35 treatments but only got 21 because I was so sick. I went to the hospital one morning and told them no more, signed the papers and left.

On returning back home I couldn't eat anything as just the though of food would make me vomit. I also had the constant taste of burnt meat in the back of my throat. I lived on juiced oranges, lemons and grapes for four months (I lived at the time in a fruit growing area) and a cup of steamed brown rice. I ate this because I couldn't have anything else and I felt it was what my body needed. I have been told by Doctors since then that this was perhaps the best thing I could have done.

Anyway, roughly eight months later I was back at work as a welder and had the sudden shock of what the operation and radiation treatment had really done to me: bad memory, got tired easy and had shaking hands when welding. I also got confused easily which made everything worse. Anway, a year to the day after my operation my then girlfriend and I got married and left to come back to were I grew up, Warrnambool.

To say life has been a journey is putting it midly. I have tried a few jobs and always felt I could do more as I always look back at to how I use to be fitness wise and mentally (I had a good memory for retaining things). 

A BIG TIME JUMP>>>current date (25 August 2003)

I now work in the disability field three days a week and am studying to complete a degree in social work. I have started back running and have been weightlifting for the last three years (I use to lift weights before I got sick).

I still have hassles and some days I have good days and bad days. I still in a way rate myself on how I use to be, but that is getting much less. I am no longer easily physically tired and only get tired mentally when I push myself too hard. Everyday is different so I try to plan my exertion around those levels.

As for the whole event it has been a great journey, many people would say 'why you?' and I would say 'well why not'. I have learnt one thing and that for sure is - that when we sign on the contract of life, death is a guaranteed part of the deal. Everyday is great even when it really tries us because from that we grow. How boring would life be if everything was peachy? For me it would be very boring.

So, that, in a fairly short version is my story. Other things are I have had no pain in regard to the operation ever (even after they had done it) and no bruising from the operation, things the doctors regard as very different.

It has only been in the last year that I have really taken any notice at how bad my cancer was and have been totally shocked to say the least. Throughout my whole journey I have just been trusting God and never really giving what I had a second thought, many have seen this as total ignorance but as far as I am concerned the cancer part of my life is over and now I am living.

It has been on my mind for the last few months Denis about doing something to bring about awarness of this disease and have the thought of doing a charity run from Perth to Melbourne. I have been putting in the training and am looking at doing it in the next couple of years. What do you think? I suppose any advice you could give me on fund-raising etc would be great and what organisations I may need to contact. Any advice would be great as I have no real idea were to start. All I know is how to run. As I said, in the next couple of years, I have to get the training under my belt and it has to be organised etc.

Anyway mate thanks for reading and hopefully we'll meet soon,   Regards  Scott.

* To contact Scott please send a letter to c/- Denis Strangman, 10 Carrodus Street, Fraser ACT 2615 Australia, who will forward it to Scott's postal address.