Living with cancer about attitude
GAVIN Grant has lived with a brain tumour for 18 years.
The Twin Waters (Sunshine Coast) resident was diagnosed with a low grade malignant astrocytoma when he was 21 years old.
“My initial prognosis was ‘how long is a piece of string’, because that was the general response I got when I asked my specialist how long he thought I had to live,” Mr Grant said.
This week May 8-14 is Brain Cancer Action Week and Mr Grant wanted to speak out and highlight the importance of helping Cancer Council Queensland to find a cure.
Cancer Council Queensland’s Sarah Thompson said brain cancer was one of the most under-studied cancers and early diagnosis was difficult because no risk factors had been identified and screening procedures didn't exist.
Mr Grant’s brain cancer was diagnosed after years of headaches, which continued to worsen, and were finally investigated.
“I had been having headaches as long as I can remember, but because a lot of my family got migraines, doctors thought it was most likely hereditary,” he said.
When he was 19 years old the headaches were particularly bad so he was sent for more tests which proved inconclusive. Two years later he was sent for a CT scan in Brisbane and the tumour was found.
“I was sent straight to a specialist, who sent me straight to hospital, it felt like I was playing monopoly, ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200’, I went straight to hospital for brain surgery,” he said.
Since it was detected, Mr Grant’s tumour hasn’t changed in size, although he still has regular check ups to monitor his tumour. His last check up showed complications, however he still remains positive.
“The best advice I ever got was from my specialist who said ‘attitude is everything’."
He said he believed he was going to be fine and he just keeps on living by the side of his wife Helen and dog Molly.
Now he dedicates his time as an active support volunter to the Cancer Council Queensland, which helped his family during his diagnosis.
“I wrote a letter for the Brain Tumour Support Service and went to a meeting, which is still one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life,” Mr Grant said.
“It was the first time I had been able to speak to people who really knew what I was going through, which helped me enormously.”