“Giving up is not an option” – how pathology helps Ron fight cancer

Fifty-nine-year-old cancer patient Ron Nothman says that pathology is a lifeline for him, his partner and his doctors.

“For me pathology is critical. Sometimes it’s a cliff-hanger – waiting for the doctor to ring me back but getting test results, good or bad, gives peace of mind – for me and my partner,” says Ron.

First diagnosed in 2001 with kidney cancer, Ron has since undergone numerous operations to remove his left kidney, left and right adrenal glands, his right lung and parts of the bones in his right leg.

Cancer was also detected in his pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain just behind the nose), which also required surgery.

Currently undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumour on his lung, Ron was a healthy and active 45-year-old when he first experienced symptoms.

“I have never smoked, only ever been a moderate drinker and I’ve always been very physically active. I used to surf, ski and I trained in martial arts for 20 years and yoga for 30 years. I was exercising nearly every day of the week.”

As a builder Ron also had a physical job and needed to be in good shape.

A ‘tiny ache’ in his thigh was the first sign of a problem but when Ron started to feel extremely tired he knew something was wrong and went to the doctor.

Pathology has been vital throughout every stage of Ron’s treatment and he now has blood tests every 1-2 months to monitor how his body is being affected by both the cancer and the chemotherapy.

“The side effects of my chemotherapy vary a lot; one month I might get diarrhoea and the next constipation. Having the ability to monitor my bloods to check on how my body is responding is critically important.

Those test results aren’t just for me, they go to my urologist, endocrinologist, oncologist and my GP. Without pathology it’s just guesswork,” says Ron.

Australian doctors rely on pathology tests to diagnose every case of cancer in Australia. Effective cancer therapies (radiation, chemotherapy, surgery) often have problematic side effects on the patient.

Ongoing pathology tests are essential to select the best treatment, prepare for surgery, adjust dosing and monitor side effects during treatment.

For Ron, pathology is vital for survival, “I’m a fighter, giving up is not an option and there’d be no way of me achieving my health results without pathology on a regular basis.”