Cancer. More than two years went by before Mike Sattler, of Smithton, decided to listen to his body and visit a doctor.
“I knew there was something, but I thought she’d come right,” Mr Sattler said. “If I had got it early enough the first time, it would probably be over.”
Instead, Mr Sattler has undergone two bouts of chemotherapy and radiation in five years, and has had several operations to remove organs and replace them with “bags” which help him to function.
His list of procedures includes an ostomy, illeal conduit urinary diversion and penectomy.
While he underwent the last procedure at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in October, he contracted VRE (a germ that healthy people can carry without ill effects, but can cause infections in those who are fragile).
What should have been five days in hospital ended up being six weeks.
In that time, his wife Elaine became run down and spent days in hospital too.
Mr Sattler said despite assistance from the State Government – in the form of the Patient Travel Assistant Scheme – it was still a difficult time financially.
“We’re both pensioners. What little money we had put aside, we had to chew into that,” Mr Sattler said. “Fortunately, the family helped out.”
As did the community.
Without his knowing, Mrs Sattler contacted the Dale Walters Never Give Up Foundation – a fund set up by locals in memory of the late Dale Walters who died in 2012 after a 10-year battle with cancer.
Mr Sattler said he knew Mr Walters and had also crossed paths with him in hospital.
Mr Sattler said he was most thankful for the grant. “To us, it was a substantial amount and I really appreciate that.”
He said he was also thankful for his wife. “I’m a pretty humble man. I don’t like asking for handouts,” he said. “I’m really glad for Elaine.
“It’s very hard for Elaine . . . but I wouldn’t like to go through it without anyone being there.”
As well as being thankful for the community’s generosity and his wife’s support, Mr Sattler thanked Smithton’s medical team.
“My doctor, Dr (Nicole) Anderson. She’s been marvellous. And the nurses and staff at Smithton Hospital are just incredible.”
Mr Sattler said despite being bed ridden for weeks and losing much of his muscle tone, he could still make light of the situation. “I’ve still got my sense of humour.”
Mrs Sattler agreed. “He’s always full of that,” she said. “As long as he keeps that, I know he’s still going.”
Mr Sattler will go back to Melbourne for tests next month. “Last time I was there, they found a couple of nodules that they’d like to keep an eye on,” Mr Sattler said.
For more information about the Dale Walters Never Give Up Foundation contact Donna Walters on 0419 500 993.