Bill Morison has been battling cancer for more than 20 years. He has undergone 12 radiation treatments and is on 10 separate kinds of medication.
The 74-year-old from Lakes Entrance in Gippsland is aware of the odds he has defied, but remains determined to make it to 80 years of age.
“I want to get my OBE — over bloody eighty,” Bill says with a laugh.
“I don’t have time to die, I’m way too busy. I’m the treasurer for three organisations and secretary for another one.
“I have too many emails to reply to, and spend a lot of my day at the computer working.”
Bill’s clearly not letting the diagnosis get him down. He is a 21-year survivor of renal cancer, which resulted in his right kidney being removed.
“The surgeon said it was a low-grade, soft-cell carcinoma and it was not likely to give me any further trouble,” he says.
“I was pretty optimistic after that.”
Four years later, however, his right elbow started hurting. Thinking it was a repetitive strain injury from his days as a sheet metal worker, Bill was shocked to learn that it was a sarcoma and that his cancer had metastasised into the bone.
“They ended up removing my humerus bone and putting silver plated Titanium rods in my arm and shoulder,” Bill says.
“My surgeon didn’t tell me at the time that 99 per cent of people are usually dead from this kind of cancer within three years.
“I’m glad he didn’t because it meant I didn’t prepare myself for death.”
Currently, he is also undergoing treatment for secondary cancers in his right lung, clavicle and eleventh rib which are all metastases from the original renal cancer.
The radiation has helped keep the cancers in his rib and clavicle at bay, while a relatively new drug Sunitinib Malate (Sutent) has stopped the march of his lung cancer.
“If it wasn’t for this drug, I think I probably wouldn’t be here,” he says.
“I started taking it a couple of years ago, and it has stopped the tumour in its tracks. It’s a very slow-growing tumour anyway, but I get CT scans regularly and it hasn’t grown.
“It costs $6563 for 28 capsules, but luckily it is on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS). If it were not on the PBS I would not be taking it.”
Bill is also taking a number of medications to help with the pain, and says that the MedAdvisor app is crucial to him staying well.
“It would be impossible to manage all of my medications without it,” he says.
“I need to go to the doctor once a month so having all my scripts on the one device, and then being able to manage them, makes my life so much easier.”
Bill also says his community involvement has been pivotal in helping him defeat cancer for so long.
“One of the community organisations I am involved with is the Men’s Shed, which is aimed at improving men’s health and wellbeing,” he says.
“I’m a big believer in men being encouraged to see a GP and look after their health; so many of them don’t go to doctors.
“We’re often our own worst enemy and I think there needs to be a big change in men’s psyches, especially when it comes to asking for help.”
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This story was written by Johanna Leggatt. Johanna is an Australian journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in both print and online. She has worked across a wide range of subject areas, including health, property, finance, interiors, and arts.