How chilling diagnosis gave Mackay man the drive to succeed
IT WAS meant to be a celebratory trip to Japan, but a chilling diagnosis turned Jay Cameron's life upside down.
Having suffered daily seizures since he was 18, he returned home from his 21st birthday travels to the news he needed an MRI. The results revealed he had a brain tumour.
Mr Cameron was told he had 10 years to live, drastically changing how he saw his future. The news was a devastating blow for him, his family and friends.
He said the experience had made it difficult to listen to others complain about their life and sometimes it was "hard to relate".
"When I was 80 I wanted to have a huge house on a farm and every Christmas my children would bring their children. But since my diagnosis I've had to rethink my goals and redevelop them," Mr Cameron said.
"Most other people have goals for living till they are 60, their world is based around that. I just can't copy and paste those kind of thoughts, I have to rebuild it."
In an attempt to address his regular seizures, Mr Cameron said, he had gone to seven GPs and undertaken several tests. Nothing was found.
He thought he was paranoid or suffering anxiety, so he went to see a psychologist. Still nothing.
When he received his MRI results shortly after his 21st birthday, the cause was finally revealed. The tumour was located on the left side of his brain.
Mr Cameron underwent eight hours of surgery to remove the cancer but at the end of last year the tumour had grown and required a second surgery.
Six weeks of radiation therapy, five days a week, followed at Mackay's Icon Cancer Centre.
Since Mr Cameron's diagnosis, his mother and sister have been strong advocates for brain cancer awareness. They are making plans for a walk around the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens to raise funds.
Despite the confronting experience, Mr Cameron has set himself lofty goals. .
He temporarily moved to Melbourne to pursue a medical degree, before moving back to Mackay to continue his treatment at Icon.
He is currently in the second year of a science degree.
"In the back of my mind I thought it was a lot of effort, but now I thought I had to do it. I would try and get into medicine before I die," he said.
"Now I'm determined."
Every Friday, Icon staff members dress in Hawaiian shirts to cheer up patients. Mr Cameron has loved and rallied around this initiative throughout his treatment.
Upon finishing his radiation therapy, he rang the centre's milestone bell, symbolising the end of his treatment. He is now awaiting the results to determine his next phase.
"It was amazing to ring that bell. Even though it was a Wednesday I still wore my tropical shirt," Mr Cameron said.
"I know that there is a lot of fear. But I would tell others who have just been diagnosed to not be too fearful."