“The only symptom I had was a chest infection, or so I thought. My GP had given me some antibiotics and said if my chest didn’t clear in two weeks he would send me for a scan. After no improvement, off I went to have the scan.”
Brett had the scan two days before Christmas and the x-ray department told him his results wouldn’t be available until after the Christmas break. But within an hour of having the scan, Brett got a call from the clinic telling him to go straight back to my GPs surgery where the Doctor was waiting for him. He knew it wasn’t good news.
When the specialist told me, I said ‘Ok, what do we do about it?’ “My wife was upset with the diagnosis and had a struggle to come to terms with it to start with, thinking I was going to die. I don’t like keeping anything from my children so we sat them down and explained the situation to them. Obviously they were upset. We all wanted to understand the situation I was in and what had to happen to fix it so we contacted the Lung Foundation. It’s important to be informed, but beware of all the misinformation on the net. Check in with a reliable organisation like Lung Foundation Australia. They have lots of resources and information available and their Information and Support Centre were always willing to chat when we needed them.
In March 2012, with his family by his side, Brett was admitted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for his lobectomy and over the following months he fought the battle of his life.
“During my treatment I had chronic tonsillitis so I was on large doses of antibiotics. I was determined not to sit around moping about feeling sick, so I would get Tina (my wife) and the kids in the car and go away for a few days. Tina thought I was trying to live out my bucket list, but I wasn’t. This was my way of dealing with the horrible side effects of chemotherapy. I found that if I was doing something, I wouldn’t be thinking about how sick I was feeling. For me, having a positive attitude really made a big difference as it prompted me to fight.”
After finishing chemotherapy, things slowly started getting back to normal for Brett and his family. He started back with the Fire Service but shortly after made the difficult decision to retire, as the chemotherapy had taken its toll on his body and he wasn’t as mobile as he used to be.
“I didn’t want to be a hazard on the fire ground if I went down. It could take two other firefighters to get me out of danger risking their own lives to save me, so I didn’t want that hanging over me. Firefighting is in my blood, so I decided to join the Rural Fire Service as a volunteer firefighter”.
Brett believes life doesn’t stop just because you have (lung) cancer. He now volunteers at the Toowoomba Base Hospital chemotherapy ward one day a week to help cancer patients going through the same difficult journey that he did.
“There are positives that have come out of having cancer. It isn’t necessarily a death sentence but the start of a new life. I now have a different look on my life. I try not to sweat the little things anymore. I have a passion to help people dealing with cancer and I like to help make their lives that little bit better if I can.”
As Christmas approaches, we all look forward to a joyous time spent with our loved ones. The Torcetti family appreciates this more than ever.
“Christmas is a time for being with loved ones and being thankful for what we have. That Christmas was a difficult time for us and the support from the Lung Foundation really made a difference. It’s impossible to put a value on having someone who could answer our many questions and was willing to just listen when we needed it. I can’t thank them enough for the services they provide and I encourage everyone to show their support this Christmas.
A gift to Lung Foundation’s Christmas Appeal is a gift of hope to a family that needs it. Please give generously”. Click here to donate.