Wayne Smith seemed like a fit, healthy man when he was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma, that had spread throughout his body.
Mr Smith had experienced barely any symptoms before his diagnosis. He began to feel a bit unwell while on holiday, but he and wife Lorraine put it down to Bali belly.
When his GP ordered tests, they were devastated to discover Mr Smith had Stage IV cancer that had spread throughout his body.
A “harrowing” 10 days followed, waiting for test results.
These revealed the cancer was a melanoma, that had spread to Mr Smith’s lungs, adrenal glands and shoulder.
It was a puzzling diagnosis. Mr Smith had never had a melanoma removed, nor did doctors ever find the original site of the cancer.
“He didn’t have any symptoms, he was a well man. He was fit, he was healthy,” Mrs Smith said.
“Once he had the scan it was a death sentence.”
Mr Smith began treatment as soon as he was diagnosed. After each treatment and each operation his body would respond for a short time, then another tumour appeared.
In the last two months of his life the cancer spread to Mr Smith’s brain.
It was a very “unkind” to her husband, Mrs Smith said.
Once he had the scan it was a death sentence.Lorraine Smith
“It’s harrowing, it’s degrading, it’s a horrible disease, it’s very cruel,” Mrs Smith said.
In June 2017 Mr Smith passed away, leaving Mrs Smith and three adult children.
Mr Smith worked on the family’s farm at Fernihurst nearly every day until the end of his life, despite his illness.
Mrs Smith remembers her husband never wanted to know how much longer he would live.
He would say, “I don’t want to know how long I’ve got, I just want to live.”
It wasn’t until the final few weeks before his death that doctors suggested Mr and Mrs Smith tell any family overseas to come home.
He passed away on June 26, 2017.
On Sunday, Mrs Smith will join others at Bendigo’s Melanoma March.
Money raised from 23 marches around Australia will go to support a melanoma research program.
Mrs Smith marched for the second time in 2018. It was the first year after Mr Smith’s death.
“Last year was hard, I think because it was the first year after his death and there were some other people there who were still battling it,” Mrs Smith said.
“Some people survive, and you think, ‘Why couldn’t Wayne survive?’,” Mrs Smith said.
“It’s sad, but also in one way rewarding to know you’ve raised money and hopefully you’re helping to stop people going through what we’ve gone through.”
Those wishing to support the march can come to the Bendigo March, Sunday March 17, 8am for 9am March, Lake Weeroona.
To support the Melanoma March visit: melanomamarch.org.au.
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