Fighting on against cancer

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Tauranga man David Griffin talks about cancer. Photo / John Borren
Tauranga man David Griffin talks about cancer. Photo / John Borren

David Griffin has been through more challenges than most. He was 38 when he was first diagnosed with cancer and 12 years later he is continuing his fight with the disease.

His diagnosis in 2002 came as a shock even though he knew there was something wrong with him.

"To this day I remember thinking, cancer doesn't happen to me," he said.

An MRI scan showed he had a large tumour on the base of his brain. He agreed to the eight-hour operation that would ultimately save his life. He woke from the operation to hear the doctors managed to remove the tumour. However, he had to learn to swallow, talk and walk again.

He also suffered a stroke while he was in recovery which left the left-hand side of his body weak.

He returned to work and got back to living normally and enjoying life. Fortunately, things managed to stay that way for a further six years.

An MRI scan in 2009 revealed the tumour had returned. The type of tumour he had was rare, with doctors knowing of only four people worldwide to have the same condition.

The tumour was growing close to the nerves on his spinal cord and he underwent surgery twice to reduce its size. However, it was deemed too difficult to remove and a five-week course of radiotherapy was prescribed instead. The treatment worked.

Mr Griffin continued to have an annual MRI scan, and in 2012 tumours were found on his optic nerve and pituitary gland. Only a few months later he found his original tumour had also returned. He is undergoing radiotherapy, he said.

He used determination and motivation to cope with the challenges arising from his battle with cancer. The purchase of a mountain bike a few years ago helped him physically and mentally. He had since lost the sight in his right eye and the hearing in his right ear but hopes to one day get back on his bike.

The support of the Cancer Society had been invaluable throughout his challenge with cancer and staying at the Cancer Society's Lions Lodge had been key to his recovery, he said.

"The lodge is amazing and at times it's been better than being at home as it's allowed me the peace and quiet to chill out and focus on getting better.

"Before I had cancer, I didn't even know about the lodge and when I found out that the facility which provides free accommodation, meals, transport, massage and support to people with cancer is funded by caring everyday New Zealanders - I couldn't believe it.

"It's unbelievable. It's just amazing how much people give."

Daffodil Day

• All money donated in the Bay supports cancer patients in the community.

• Daffodil Day is the biggest fundraiser for the Cancer Society and is on August 29.

• The Cancer Society is always looking for volunteers. Tasks and hours are very flexible.

• Contact the Tauranga office on tauranga@cancersociety.org.nz, (07) 571 2035 or 0800 22 77 44.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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