“It didn’t feel real. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I was so conscious of trying to be healthy. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
In November 2019, Louie Bene was at his GP for a script for his asthma medication.
When his doctor asked if there was anything more, Louie figured it couldn’t hurt to mention his leg had been feeling tighter than usual.
An enthusiastic rugby and soccer player, with a history of bumps, bruises and a knee reconstruction, Louie had assumed that it was nothing more than a torn hamstring.
Within the space of five days, he would learn that it was sarcoma – a cancer of the bone and soft tissue. Another five days later, a full body scan ordered by his doctor presented further bad news: large tumours were also evident in other areas of his body, including his stomach.
“I went from running, doing weights, work, planning holidays as a family, nothing could be better,” says Louie. “In that ten days, everything came crashing down.”
Louie was referred to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for six months of chemotherapy treatment. Three months in, he is thankful for the services and support available to him.
“This hospital is unbelievable. When you walk in, just the light…you know you’re going into a good place. It’s nothing but positive. The rooms are beautiful and the nurses are like friends, the sort of friends that look after you. It’s like a little family.”
Louie is now under the care of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Sarcoma specialist Nurse Practitioner, Katie Thompson, whose position is solely funded through philanthropy.
“Katie visits me often, makes sure everything is alright and answers any questions I have. I don’t have to wait to see the doctor – she can ask him any questions I might have and get back to me straight away. It’s a good setup.”
Louie is now halfway through his treatment and responding exceptionally well. He remains positive and credits this to the support of his family and friends, and to the treatment and care he’s received at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
“On my first day (of chemotherapy), I heard the bell ring about two or three times,” Louie says, referring to the end-of-treatment bell he can hear from day therapy. “Another three months and I’ll be ringing that bell. I can’t wait.”