Cancer and Chemotherapy

The last couple of posts, here on my personal blog, have been about my health issues and diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer.  Since then I’ve spent eight weeks in hospital at Monash Clayton following the “Whipples Procedure” surgery, which removed the head of my pancreas, Gall Bladder and part of my intestine.  The operation its self was a success, but subsequent complications and infection kept me in hospital longer than originally expected.  Even after I was eventually allowed to go home, I was re-admitted twice more following further complications.

Not only has cancer been tough on my health, this time has been really tough on my family and finances (I haven’t worked since March).  Thankfully we’ve received a lot of support from friends and family, and our employers have been very understanding and supportive.  I’m really glad I signed up for Income Protection insurance some time ago, I don’t know how we’d be surviving right now otherwise!

Since leaving hospital I’ve been doing regular physio/rehab to rebuild my health, strength and fitness.  I’ve also began a six month chemotherapy course, where I attend Monash Moorabbin hospital fortnightly for twelve sessions.  Even though my surgeons believe they were able to remove all of the cancer from my pancreas, the chemotherapy should minimise the risk of any stray cancer cells causing a problem in the future.  Unfortunately the chemo comes with some side affects, but so far they haven’t been as bad as we were told they could be.

Cancer Video Updates

Rather going into detail about everything here, I’ll refer you to a series of YouTube videos I’ve been making to keep friends and family updated on my cancer journey.  At the time of writing, my Cancer Playlist has five videos.  That number will increase as I publish further updates.

You can view my cancer and chemotherapy videos at this YouTube link…
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMW46fXcTq_JmrNOKlnAHTTpeR4gopXqf 

Cancer Surgery

I explained in my previous blog post that I was in hospital with what is more than likely a cancerous growth on the head of my pancreas.  Tomorrow I’m having major surgery to remove the tumour, which will also mean loosing the head of my pancreas, gall bladder, part of the bile duct and part of my bowel.  Yep, it’s pretty full on!

I’m thankful I was allowed to come home for a week, after 10 days of hospital tests, before going back in tomorrow morning.  This morning I recorded a video for YouTube and Facebook to explain to friends and family what’s been going on, and to thank all those special people who have offered their best wishes and support.

Check out the video below.  I will post updated when I can.

Thanks.

I’m in hospital

As I write this, from beside my hospital bed, I’ve spent the last eight days in two different hospitals.  All of that time has been the investigation phase, as the doctors try and work out what’s going on.

It started two weeks ago, just feeling sick.  I thought I had eaten too much, but the feeling didn’t go away.  Then I noticed my urine had become very dark, and it was hurting to pee.  My GP had some blood tests done, when we went in for the test results the she said my liver function was off the chart and I should go straight to hospital.

The early diagnosis was gallstones, but an ultrasound ruled that out.  Then a CT scan found a growth on my pancreas, that was compressing my bile duct.  The lack of bile flowing through was the reason for my symptoms.  An MRI scan has since established a very high chance the growth is cancerous.  Tomorrow they are putting an ultrasonic camera down my throat for a definitive look.

If tomorrow confirms what the doctors suspect, then major surgery awaits.

Simon Yeo, waiting in hospital

Waiting in hospital

This blog post isn’t seeking sympathy (I’m getting lots of support from family, friends and work colleagues).  Rather this, and subsequent posts, are more like a personal diary to keep track of the timeline, and a record (in my own words) of whats happening.

18 Months Later… My Mega Catch-Up Blog Post

The key to a successful blog, so they say, is regular updates.  “Regular updates” probably means at least a weekly blog post, so not doing anything to this site for more than a year, isn’t really good form.  Back in April I realised it had been 12 months since I’d updated the blog, and started to think about what I should do.  Do I do a big catch-up post before getting back into regular blogging, or should I just shut down the site?  I couldn’t decide, and did nothing at all.  A few weeks ago, the web hosting renewal popped up in my inbox, so it was time to make a decision about the future of my personal blog and website.  I  paid the invoice, and here we are.

Lets catch-up, what’s been happening since April 2017 ?

Before I start regular blogging again, I should update the site with what’s happened in my life since I lasted updated my personal blog.

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Ken Rich, police officer and swim coach

Ken Rich, 1962-2017
I took this photo of Ken in 2014, posted on the swim club’s Flickr site.

We lost a friend – Ken Rich

Ken was a veteran police officer, but we knew him as a swim coach to our boys.  Ken founded, and was President of, the Cardinia Piranhas Swim Club, where Josh and Brad swam squad.  Mandy and I volunteered on the committee of the swim club, so we got to know Ken well.  Tragically he was hit by a ute while cycling with his daughter on April 14, 2017.

Hundreds of people farewelled Ken at his funeral on April 26, held at the Victoria Police Academy Chapel.  RIP Ken.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/cyclist-killed-in-pakenham-crash-near-princes-highway-20170414-gvkwwq.html

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Rainy Day School Drop Off

I made a short movie!

Using only my iPhone, I set out to make a one minute movie.  Yep, one minute!  It’s was a simple plan, compile various short clips from taking the kids to school on a rainy day.  This included stuff you wouldn’t normally think about, like flicking on the wipers, to help tell the story.

Looking back, this was really early in my video making hobby.  It was filmed on a phone, edited with free software and uses copyright free music.
It’s had over 1,000 views on YouTube, and even got a few “likes”.
I’m happy with that!

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thumbnail 2 years on YouTube

One of Karla’s YouTube thumbnails

Karla’s YouTube

I’ve written in a previous blog post that I thought I had the YouTube bug, well so has my daughter – Karla.

Over more than two years, we’ve filmed more than 90 videos together, which equates to hundreds of editing hours for me.  It’s no wonder I haven’t had much time for blogging and updating this website, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  Not only has it been a lot of fun working on these projects, it’s great to have a video record of Karla growing up.
www.youtube.com/KarlaAgain

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Josh Yeo, Learner Driver

The Learner Driver

Since Josh got his Learner Driver permit in January 2016, we’ve been encouraging him to drive as much as possible.

There’s been long and short trips in both my Mazda and Mandy’s Kia, but for some reason kids these days don’t seem to be in any hurry to get their driver’s licence.  Sometimes we can’t drag him away from whatever else he’s doing to go for a drive, so after more than two and a half years he still isn’t close to the minimum 120 hours required to go for his “P” plate licence.

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Morrows Freightlines Twin Steer Scania

A new job

I was contacted, out of nowhere, from a manager I worked with 8 years earlier, asking if I’d be interested to work with him again.  He had just joined a family transport company, and wanted to bring me on board to help improve the business.

Sure, it was a bit risky, but I resigned from the company I’d been working with for more than five years.  Thankfully they said I’d be welcomed back if the new job didn’t work out!

Now I’m a morning supervisor, opening up and helping get drivers out on the road, before heading out in a truck myself.  Just like most work places, nothing is perfect, but I’m happy I made the move to a small family business.

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Bev, Nana W.

My Mother-in-Law passed away

In September 2017, my Mother-in-Law, Bev, lost her battle with cancer.

At the time I wrote on Facebook; Today we say goodbye to a lady who’s been a part of my life for more than 23 years.  My Mother-In-Law, Bev, sadly passed last week.  This is a photo I took last Christmas of her surrounded by family.”

Bev, surrounded by family, Christmas 2016

Bev, surrounded by family, Christmas 2016

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Simon Yeo drawn as a Simpsons character

Drawn as a Simpsons character

Our local Lego store (I’m Rick James Bricks) had a promotion where Simpsons artist Dean Rankine would draw customers (for a fee) in a Simpsons cartoon character likeness.

Just like Mandy and Karla had their Simpsons look-a-likes drawn last year, now it was my turn.  This is a bit of fun, and very interesting to see your self as a cartoon character.

It’s amazing the detail Dean puts into his drawing, such as the design on the t-shirt I happened to be wearing, or excess belt hanging down from my shorts.  I’m really happy with the final drawing, thanks Dean!

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Last steam train to Wycheproof

Crowds gather in the main street of Wycheproof to see the last steam train.

The last steam train to Wycheproof

I drove to Wycheproof (North West Victoria), where the railway line runs down the centre of the main street, to see (and photograph) the last ever steam train to visit the town.  The tracks are being upgraded to a different gauge, eliminating the possibility of any heritage trains from Victoria visiting town again.

That little road trip was October 2017.  Fast forward to September 2018, and NEWSRAIL magazine has featured one of my pictures from Wycheproof on their back cover!  There’s no remuneration for a published photo, just a free copy of the magazine, but it’s still nice to be published.

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A screen shot from a home video taken the day Josh was born.
With my son Josh on his 18th birthday.

Josh turns 18

Every time one of the kids has a birthday, we say something like “oh how time flies” and “I feel old now”.  When a child officially becomes an adult, at the age of 18, you really start to think about all those years.

Our eldest son, Josh, turned 18 in January.  He didn’t want a big party, so we just had family and friends get together at the local pub for a big lunch.

For months leading up to his birthday, we’d been digging up old photos and video of Josh growing up.  Mandy made up a couple of picture boards, and I edited together lots of old home movies that started with the day he was born and culminated in everyone at the birthday lunch recording a message for him.  Check out the final video on YouTube.

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Karla on the Silo Art Trail

Karla on the Silo Art Trail

Silo Art Road-trip with Karla

There’s a growing tourism trend to paint murals on old grain silos, to encourage tourists and travellers to stop at the small country towns.

In western Victoria there’s six silo art murals promoted as a “Silo Art Trail”, where tourists are encouraged to take a road trip to see the silos.  That’s exactly what Karla and I did, driving from Melbourne we saw all six murals, took heaps of photos and made a video before staying overnight in Horsham.

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New Camera Lumix G9

Panasonic Lumix G9

My new camera – Panasonic Lumix G9

I’ve been wanting to up my photography and videography game for a while.  My Olympus OM-D is a good camera, but I was running into some limitations.  I wanted to stick with the micro-four-thirds system so I could continue to use my existing lenses, so that meant looking at either the high-end Olympus cameras, or going with something from the Panasonic Lumix range.

When the Lumix G9 was announced, I knew that was the camera I wanted.  Panasonic has taken image stabilisation to the next level with their Dual I.S, that makes hand held long exposures a possibility.  4K video at 60fps means I can up the standard of my film making, and include some smooth slow-motion footage.

There are too many other awesome features to list here, but the G9 is the best micro-four-thirds camera available.  A camera like the Lumix G9 doesn’t come cheap, so I’ve had to get onto a good finance plan, but I think it’s worth it.

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Neon Dogs display at White Night Melbourne 2018

“WOOF” Neon Dogs at White Night 2018

White Night Melbourne 2018

The first outing for my new camera, the Panasonic Lumix G9 (see above), was to White Night Melbourne, an overnight event in the streets of the city, showcasing light displays and projections.

I enjoyed wandering the Melbourne streets, along with thousands of other people, and my 17 year old niece (who is also into photography).  The G9 was amazing in low light for both regular and long exposure photography, and the awesome stabilisation meant I could take shots hand-held without even thinking about a tripod.

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concert photo with graphics

We’ve seen 2 concerts this year

Ed Sheeran and P!NK

This year I’ve seen two Melbourne concerts with my wife and daughter;

  • We saw Ed Sheeran at Etihad Stadium (the Docklands arena now known as Marvel Stadium), but we were almost at the very back of the top deck.  The view might not have been great from the back of the “cheap” seats, but this was Karla’s first concert and she loved it.
  • Rod Laver Arena is a smaller venue, so even our seats at the back and to one side still gave us a good view of P!NK.

P!NK is definitely more of a rock artist than Ed, so I enjoyed her show more, but both were great concerts.

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transparent Vic Pics logo

My other blog and photo gallery

Even though I’ve been horribly slack in updating this site, my personal blog, I have managed to publish a few posts to my other site.  If you haven’t seen www.vic.pics before, it’s basically a local travel and photography site.

Whenever I can, I travel to somewhere in Victoria (my home state in south-east Australia) and photograph as much as I can.  Ipublish to a gallery and write a blog post about the location, or whatever I’ve photographed.

I’d ideally like to be able to update VIC PICS every week or so, but I guess every couple of months isn’t as bad as the 18 month gap in this personal blog!  Check out the latest on VIC PICS at… www.vic.pics/latest-posts

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Back to regular blogging

Even though blogs aren’t trendy anymore, the young folk prefer their Instagram Stories (or what ever it is they do now), I’d really like to keep my blog going.  I put a lot of work into this site in the beginning, learning WordPress and trying different themes and layouts, so I don’t want to think it was all a waist of time.  Believe it or not, I actually enjoy the creative process behind maintaining a website and writing a blog.

You know in the old days when a TV or radio show would go off air, there would be an announcement like
“…we apologise for this break in transmission, we will return you to our regular programme as soon as possible”.
Well, thats what I’m doing here, apologising for the break in publishing my personal blog posts and promising to return to regular blogging real soon.

This site is just a personal blog, so nobody really cares except me, but this update post has gone for long enough. It’s time I signed off and started thinking about my next blog post.

Thanks for reading.
Simon.
(back soon…)