When Vin Ayres was diagnosed with renal cancer last year he thought that would be his biggest challenge, then he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Vin’s double whammy – cancer and diabetes

Vin’s double whammy – cancer and diabetes

Vin Ayres lost one kidney 17 years ago, so when he was diagnosed with renal cancer last year on his remaining kidney he naturally thought that was going to be his biggest challenge for the next 12 months or so.

Unfortunately, in the midst of his cancer treatment, Vin became very ill in February this year and was subsequently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

For Vin, 83, and his wife June, the diabetes diagnosis has presented a much bigger challenge – one they’ve relied on Timboon and District Healthcare Service to survive.

Twelve months ago, the couple headed off to Darwin with their camper trailer to visit their daughter. Vin had been off his food, had an aching back and just didn’t feel right, but they decided to go ahead with their trip anyway.

June said Vin’s health wasn’t improving, so while they were in Darwin their daughter booked him in to see a GP for some tests.

“Straight away that doctor told us it wasn’t good and Vin needed some scans, but we couldn’t get appointments so we decided to drive home and deal with it,” June said.

“We got to Katherine though and South Australia went into COVID-19 lockdown, so we turned around and went back to Darwin. We left our car and camper trailer there and flew home instead.”

Cancer Diagnosis

June said their GP at the Timboon Clinic, Warwick Rouse, got Vin booked in for scans in Warrnambool and they found a cancerous lump on his remaining kidney.

“There were some spots on his glands as well and the cancer specialist recommended Vin undertake immune therapy, which he started in August last year.

“It’s a system where they put him on an infusion every few weeks to stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer. “It made Vin terribly itchy, but the cancer was shrinking and things were heading the right way, but then in February this year he became very unwell.”

Within half a day, Vin could no longer walk and was very confused. Even now he has a very poor memory of this time in his life.

June said he ended up at Accident and Emergency in Warrnambool where he was so confused he couldn’t answer any questions from the doctors.

Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

“He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and spent several days in intensive care and a further two weeks on the ward before coming back to TDHS for six weeks,” she said.

“While the immune therapy was doing its thing on the cancer, unfortunately it caused the diabetes.

Health Support

The team at Timboon were just so excellent helping us. The diabetes nurse Cheryl Poole and Warwick helped us understand diabetes and how to deal with it.

“Then when he came home, district nurses came every day for a few weeks and Sherryl Mueller still comes two days a week to help us. “

We do three finger prick checks every day and use a monitor on Vin’s arm five or six times a day to keep on top of his sugar levels and there’s injections morning and night but we’re going pretty well with it all now.”

June said Vin had just started steroids for the renal cancer and they were hopeful it would continue the good work the immune therapy started and that Vin’s health can continue to track in the right direction.

National Diabetes Week

National Diabetes Week is from 10 – 16 July raising awareness about all types of diabetes. Around 1.8 million Australians have diabetes. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.4 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated).

For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day.

For more information you can visit Diabetes Australia at www.diabetesaustralia.com.au. You can also contact TDHS on 5558 6000 to make an appointment with our Diabetes Educator or make an appointment with one of our GPs by contacting our Timboon Clinic on 5558 6088.

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