Help Bundy man live his remaining months with dignity
MY NAME is Peter Fogarty and I am 53 years old.
I have had a beautiful life.
I have a wonderful family. Unfortunately, my health has been a rollercoaster ride with a lot of lows in recent times.
I was diagnosed with my first brain tumour when I was in my 20s.
I survived it, but have lived with epilepsy ever since.
After my marriage broke down, I moved from South Australia to sunny Bundaberg.
It was here that I met Kathy, my fiancee.
I was working away on the gas pipelines, and was working towards my dream of paying off my house and travelling.
At 46 years old, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
My life came to a halt, all my future plans seemed to come crashing down.
I was one of the youngest patients the surgeon ever had to perform a prostatectomy on. I battled through radiotherapy in Brisbane for seven weeks.
A year or so later, strange lesions appeared on my head. After months of tests, we discovered I had osteomyelitis in my cranium.
This required major surgery in Brisbane, removing a large part of my skull.
This was a strange and unheard of thing to be suffering from.
No one had heard of someone suffering from this in their head and surviving.
For example, if osteymyelitis occurs in a limb, it would be amputated. For six months, I was missing a piece of my skull.
My brain was only protected by a piece of skin, and a reinforced rugby league helmet that I had to wear all the time, in hot Queensland weather.
I also had to have serious intravenous antibiotics to try and kill the bug.
After those long six months waiting, I could finally have surgery for a plate to be inserted in my head, to replace the infected skull that had been removed.
In my previous surgery, the plastic surgeons had created a special flap of skin or a "dog flap” to be used to make the surgery easier, and so that I had enough skin to stretch over the plate.
The surgery was several hours long.
Unfortunately, the neurology team did not consult with the plastic surgery team as they were meant to. I was left with the "dog flap”, an extra piece of skin hanging from the side of my head. It had been especially made to be used in the surgery, but the doctors neglected to do so.
The job was half done.
When I woke up from surgery, I was devastated to see this dog ear still attached to me.
I was told by the doctors that if I wanted it removed, I could be on a waiting list for up to two years. I just wanted to feel normal again.
We decided to save for private health cover, so that I could use this to get the surgery within one year instead of two.
When I had the surgery, I felt like my life was on track again.
I could start living a normal life. I could go on holidays and enjoy myself, I could work, I could do all the normal things people take for granted.
Yet another blow came when I was diagnosed with radio proctitis, a debilitating condition that was a result of my previous radiotherapy.
After seven happy, eventful years with Kathy, I proposed to her and we went on a holiday cruise to celebrate. While on the cruise, I suffered a seizure that signalled something wasn't right.
I had a brain tumour. A glioblastoma multiform stage 4 (terminal) brain tumour. My world was shattered.
I was flown to Brisbane, then back to Bundaberg, then back to Brisbane again for surgery.
I was told I now had between 3-24 months to live.
This was the news no one ever wants to receive.
The surgery removed some of the tumour, but due to the type of tumour, it couldn't all be removed. I tried chemotherapy when I returned to Bundaberg.
It made me so sick.
The tumour appeared to be under control and I was managing okay.
In September this year, I started suffering from seizures - 20 a day.
I couldn't live or function normally.
I just had seizure after seizure.
It's something you'd never wish on anyone.
It took my doctors in Bundaberg nearly two weeks to decide what could be done.
My medication was increased and the seizures subsided. Again, things settled, but only momentarily.
The tumour has started to grow again. I've lost the feeling and use of my left hand and left foot. Being mobile is extremely difficult.
Even simple things, like holding a cup, or getting out of a chair, have become huge challenges.
I am lucky that Kathy has been by my side. She tries her best to shower me, dress me and do everything I need help with.
How to help
Our bathroom is totally inadequate for me in my current condition.
Kathy also has major scoliosis, which makes it hard for her to bend as she tries to shower me.
I could use your help to make life easier, and to ensure a better quality of life for me.
My health will further deteriorate as the brain tumour takes hold.
What we need is an accessible bathroom: an open shower that can fit a chair, a toilet I could easily get on and off of.
These things would make a huge difference.
All of my medical issues have drained my savings and also left me unable to work. Kathy also has to care for me full time. A disability-friendly bathroom would make our lives better.
We don't need or want anything fancy, just something that I can use.
I don't want every day to be a struggle to simply get clean or use the toilet.
We have tried and tried to get funding from community groups, but nothing has happened.
My occupational therapist suggested we use a camp shower in the backyard. . I just want some dignity.
Even after everything I've been through, I truly believe in positive thinking.
I am not one to ask for help, so this is difficult for me to do. I feel like I am out of options, and so I'm turning to the generosity of my family and friends at this time. I need your help.
I want to enjoy the days I have left with Kathy. I have a beautiful granddaughter and a little grandson on the way. These two will keep me fighting.
I have three children and three stepchildren that I love dearly.
Kathy and I finish each other's sentences. We've been through so much together. I wanted to grow old with her, but that opportunity has been taken from me by this aggressive tumour. Kathy is my rock.
I am thankful for all of the support and help I have received from my family and friends. Thank you to Kathy, my dad Andy, my kids, Kathy's kids, our families and friends that have been by my side every step of this journey.
I humbly ask that you could help me live my last months comfortably.
I thank you for taking the time to read my story, and I thank you for your love, support, and generosity.
And remember, stay positive, and keep smiling.