Shock diagnosis takes huge toll on young Ipswich family
WHEN Jamie Hewett started experiencing pain in his back, the long time labourer thought it was a result of many years on the job wearing him down.
After injuring his back while moving a fridge eight years ago, the pain seemed to only worsen and he soon lost his appetite and a considerable amount of weight.
Jamie, in his mid 30s, and wife Rebecca were perplexed and sought out medical tests to find out what was going on.
Just a few months later Jamie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer which is considered rare for his age group.
By the time he was diagnosed, the cancer was extensive and advanced with a full body scan revealing cancerous cells were in his spine, in his neck and spread across his hips.
He underwent radiation therapy, chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants and the impact on his body was huge; Jamie had to learn to walk again and his bones so brittle he requires regular medication to rebuild their strength.
It threw the Hewetts' world upside down.
With Jamie unable to work and Rebecca only working part-time while studying, it took its toll financially.
They made the difficult decision to sell their home after a close family friend had helped them with house payments for a year.
"When he was diagnosed it threw us into turmoil because we had a house to pay off," Rebecca said.
"Initially he was taken to (Ipswich Hospital) but it was on bypass so he ended up at the Wesley Hospital," Rebecca said.
The time spent travelling from Fernvale to Brisbane was another strain on the family of five, already struggling to deal with the diagnosis.
"I would be in two or three times a day," Rebecca said.
"I'd take the kids to school and then go and spend time with him and then pick up the kids and take the kids to try and keep their routine as normal as possible."
Jamie continues his treatment at the Welsey, with the family now based at Brassall, and he goes in twice a week for three weeks, with the other week spent at home.
"We've been doing this for eight years," Rebecca said.
"We probably could have tried to move somewhere closer but Jamie built a relationship with the specialist that he sees, and with his doctors and nurses. For us it is travel but it's important for those relationships. When you're seeing someone often, it's important that you're comfortable with those people.
"Jamie's current diagnosis is indefinite treatment. The treatment he's having is keeping the disease at bay and then they just monitor him and check that everything is going to plan.
"We do have the capacity to travel but a lot of families don't have the capacity to do that. A lot of families would struggle getting in and out of hospitals. It's not easy but people make it happen because they have to. They don't really have a choice."