Nerve damage remains after chemo

By Martin Johnston

Grant Baker helps run a charity which aims to raise money for clinical trials of digestive system cancers. Photo / Natalie Slade
Grant Baker helps run a charity which aims to raise money for clinical trials of digestive system cancers. Photo / Natalie Slade

Nerves in Grant Baker's fingers and feet are still suffering from the chemotherapy he received after having surgery for bowel cancer detected more than six years ago.

At 55, the Auckland businessman is considered cured of the cancer, which had spread to lymph nodes by the time it was picked up. The first signs he noticed, which led to his diagnosis, were some nausea and abdominal cramps.

He found the 24-week course of chemo very difficult towards the end. It caused mouth ulcers, fatigue, nausea, some loss of feeling in his fingers and on the soles of his feet, and an aversion to anything cold.

He said the loss of feeling from nerve damage wasn't getting any better with time, but he classed it as an annoyance and it didn't restrict him from doing anything.

"It's just a pain to live with; you get used to it. If you walk out in bare feet you can't really feel where you're walking; you step on a stone and it really hurts because you don't have the same lead-up to it.

My fingertips are quite sensitive and you don't have the same touch that you once had."

Mr Baker is a partner in venture-capital company the Business Bakery.

Auckland University professor of oncology, Michael Findlay, approached Mr Baker to join the board of the Gastro-intestinal Cancer Institute - whose aims are to raise money for clinical trials and to raise awareness of digestive system cancers - as deputy chairman.

"In the cancer charity world," said Mr Baker, "breast cancer gets huge support".

Breast cancer was primarily a women's disease and women were "better at fundraising and talking about things than guys are".

"Gastro-intestinal cancers are a hell of a lot more common than breast cancer, they affect men and women and there should be some fundraising activity for them."

- NZ Herald

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