I’m 34, married, and a plumber by trade with my own business. Other than a lap band surgery for weight loss in 2007, my health has been good with no issues since.
From the beginning, I wasn’t keen to get the COVID vaccine. I didn’t want it but was coerced by family. I was informed by them I wouldn’t be able to see other family members. From a work perspective, no-one was checking anything on job sites, it all just seemed to be fear portrayed by the media.
I had the first Pfizer vaccine on 27 August 2021. I didn’t have a reaction at the time, but a couple of hours later, I started feeling dazed in the head (a cloudy, brain fog kind of feeling), and that never went away.
I had the second Pfizer jab on 30 September 2021. After this one, the cloudiness in my head got worse and I started getting lethargic and feeling tired all the time. I was sleeping 12 to14 hours per day but felt like I hadn’t slept at all. I ignored this, pushed through and kept working. Then, over time I started having trouble swallowing. I had thought there was something wrong with my lap band and continued to ignore the symptoms for a while but was thinking I’d see about getting it removed. It got progressively worse over a couple of months, to the point that I was barely able to swallow water.
I hadn’t been able to swallow food for weeks and was living off protein shakes, losing steam and getting puffed easily. I hadn’t known that the oxygen in my blood was low. From the issues with swallowing, I’d lost around 20kg from the time I had the second Pfizer jab to when I went to see the bariatric surgeon at the end of December 2021. I told him there was something wrong with the lap band and that I wanted to get it removed. He did a barium swallow test to check it but found nothing wrong with the band itself. He suggested I do a colonoscopy and endoscopy, for which I arranged an appointment in January 2022, but a few days prior to the appointment, on 25 January, I collapsed at home.
When I came to, I was being stubborn and told my wife I’d be alright – she wanted to take me to the hospital. I ended up deciding to go and was very clumsy and wobbly as I made my way to the car. They did a blood test when I first got there and my haemoglobin level was around 50 – normal levels are between 135-175, so they told me I wasn’t going anywhere. They asked me a few questions about the lap band, and I told them I hadn’t been able to eat food and my stools were black, which raised a few red flags for them.
They ended up giving me a blood transfusion then taking me for a CT scan, where they found a large tumour on my stomach, liver and in my lungs. I had thought it was a joke because I was adamant that it was the band.
The following day, I had an endoscopy. They took a biopsy and found the tumour was blocking 90% of the entry to my stomach (it was also around the area of the lap band) and would bleed severely when touched – this was what had caused all my months of misery.
The biopsy results were given on 28 January and confirmed the gravity of the cancer. It was a stage 4, highly advanced and aggressive adenocarcinoma. I was told on diagnosis that my life expectancy was under two years. They also told me if I hadn’t come in when I did, that I most likely would have died within 24 hours due to the internal blood loss.
Due to the size, locations, and state of growth (the tumour on my liver measured 107mm and the stomach one was around 85mm), it was deemed inoperable. Later on, they also did a PET scan and confirmed it had not only spread to my liver and lungs but to my lymph nodes as well.
I had nine days in hospital initially. They managed my blood levels with several blood transfusions, and I was started on radiotherapy sessions within a week of the diagnosis to stop the blood going to my stomach cancer and to shrink it (which resulted in me being able to swallow again without vomiting a few weeks later).
Chemo started in the middle of February, starting with 6 to 7 hours a day and I’m now on a two-hour dose each time. I have spent around two months in hospital across eight or nine different hospital stays since January as I had many complications from the chemo with immunity issues. For example, after the first lot of chemo I had food poisoning and ended up in ICU for a week, and I caught RSV another time – multiple issues such as this. My age has definitely been on my side, enabling me to get through all of this as well as I have. If I’d been older, they said I would be in palliative care.
In the beginning of chemo I felt like a zombie and felt really sick. After the third or fourth dose I couldn’t really feel it anymore. I had tingling in my fingers and toes which felt like electric shocks when I touched something cold, and I also lost feeling in my fingers. If I had a sip of a cold drink, it felt like an electric shock in my mouth and like my oesophagus was closing. The worst side effect of chemo for me was the metallic taste in my mouth, it was a horrible lingering symptom, and I lost my taste – my sense of taste is slowly coming back now.
After the first PET scan, a nuclear scientist came and sat next to me, and enquired whether I’d had a COVID vaccine. I said “Yes”, and then he asked me which arm I had it in. I said, “My right” and he said, “I thought so”, and then walked off. The way he asked was odd and that’s when I put it altogether and realised that my symptoms began after the vaccine. I then noticed that every time I went for a PET scan, they would ask everyone what arm they’d had their vaccine in, but I’m not sure why.
I asked my oncologist about the cancer’s association with the vaccine and the look on his face was fear. He didn’t want to engage with that topic at all. The way the doctors and nurses tread around this subject speaks volumes.
A few doctors now have told me that the vaccine can knock out your immunity. Having gastric cancer at my age is very strange. I’m not saying that the vaccine has caused it, but the impact from the vaccine has let it run rampant. I go to Sutherland Hospital and there are a lot of people there on chemo. Every chair is full when I go in. The care and treatment I’ve received at Sutherland has been amazing. I’m so grateful to have access to the amazing people and facilities. It made me realise how lucky I am to be Australian.
The cancer has reduced but is still significant. I’m throwing anything and everything I can at this – I am taking black seed oil, doxycycline, atorvastatin, metformin (for diabetes – I don’t have treatment), fenbendazole, and very high doses of melatonin.
I kept my business open in between treatments for my employees, even though I could not physically work, in hope of having the opportunity to return to work again.
Another impact this has had on my wife and I is the IVF treatment we’d been doing for the last two years. My sperm count was normal prior to the vaccine. Post vaccine but pre the cancer diagnosis, my sperm count was really low, and they couldn’t get anything out of the samples. They’d also kept checking my blood and told me I was anaemic and there was nothing they could do until I sorted this out. The result is unknown after chemo.
I don’t know if the gravity of it has hit me yet. I’m a positive and happy person and see that ‘it is what it is’. I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than just seeing it as a disease.