Music a saving grace for Jim Cameron
At 53-years-old, Jim Cameron has battled through more than most people could imagine, yet he still walks around with a bright smile on his face.
Originally from Kwinana, Jim has lived in Bunbury for 11 years and has worked as a concreter for more than 33 making him no stranger to an outdoor lifestyle.
“I spent most of my life fishing, surfing, football, concreting — everything out in the sun and all bad things for a red-headed person,” he joked.
January 1, 2017 was when Jim’s life radically changed.
“New Year’s Eve I was playing music up at Lake Clifton and sitting afterwards playing the guitar,” Jim said. “I was struggling a bit and then all of a sudden the whole right side of my face went completely numb.
“Then the whole right side of my arm went completely numb, I had an uncontrollable swallow, I couldn’t talk properly and no one knew what was going on.
He slept for a few hours and when he woke up, Jim googled the 10 signs of a stroke and realised he had experienced four.
Jim texted his kids and drove himself to the hospital and once he reeled off his symptoms they assessed him quickly.
The doctor comes back and says you’ve got brain cancer … happy New Year, you know?
That moment would transform the rest of his life.
After being transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Jim had an operation on the left side of the brain to remove a tumour and was discharged two days later to go home and recover.
“A couple weeks later I go back and have more scans and came back with six tumours in my body,” he said.
He was diagnosed with metastasis melanoma stage 4 with the BRAF mutation.
“They put me on a trial, a targeted therapy for my cancer, for about 21 months,” he said.
But it wasn’t smooth sailing. Jim fought multiple other battles along the way.
“I had a pretty crazy rash around my chest and torso and had a bronchoscopy to find if it was cancer spreading or a reaction,” he said.
“Towards the end of 21 months I had another bad reaction where I was burnt from the inside out.
“Both arms, my face — third-degree burns but it happened so quickly I was watching my blisters grow, crack, weep and bleed within the space of an hour.”
After ending up in hospital again, Jim was put on immunotherapy and he had a bad reaction this time with his liver.
“Long story short it took me about a year to recover from the side effects of that and I’m still recovering now,” he said.
“Now I’m recovering slowly. I’ve been through the wringer just a few times.”
But the outlook is positive as he has been clear of tumours for nine months.
I’ve got a great outcome because now my last scans in January and all the tumours are all gone.
Throughout his battle with cancer, it was music that brought Jim solace. Jim has been playing music since he learned the guitar at the age of 16 and recently took on the presidency role of the South West Blues Club.
“I thought I need a focus and can’t physically do a whole lot but I can still play music,” he said.
“We had 22 people in the club and in the year and a half since I’ve been president, we’ve got about 75 people.
“It’s pretty amazing. I’ve got a lot of good help around me.”
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