Myeloma: I thought I’d never see Dad again
When 11-year-old Taylor O’Gorman’s father Michael was admitted to hospital in October 2011 with 24 broken bones, including his ribs sternum and some vertebrae, doctors had never seen a case like it.
Not surprisingly 51-year-old Michael had been in debilitating pain for many months but stubbornly held on hoping it would get better. When he eventually went to the doctor in agonising pain and struggling to breathe, he was diagnosed with advanced stage three myeloma.
The next day Michael began a long stint in hospital and an intense course of chemotherapy and radiation.
“The first night I slept in my house missing one big piece of my heart,” Taylor said.
Doctors told Michael to ‘get his affairs in order’ and prepare for the possibility of not making it to Christmas.
It was devastating news for Taylor and her mother, Lynne, however the O’Gormans resolved to beat the cancer together. Michael, a keen triathlete knew something about determination and persistence and it was this spirit that carried him through his blood cancer fight.
“Dad would just lay there with a smile on his face saying ‘I will fight the battle and I will win it,’” Taylor said.
It was while watching the 2012 Olympics together in hospital, Taylor remembers her father making her a promise to get strong enough to complete the Noosa Triathlon.
Michael underwent a bone marrow transplant and further chemotherapy.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Michael and his family were able to stay together during his treatment at one of the Leukaemia Foundation’s specially built accommodation centres in Queensland.
After 10 months of gruelling treatment, he was able to go home.
Returning to fitness
Michael’s return to fitness was a slow, frustrating process but in the back of his mind was the promise he’d made to Taylor.
The first training session he could manage was just a run to the end of the driveway and back.
Two years on, in 2013 Taylor and Lynne were waiting at the Noosa Triathlon finish line.
“When dad came in, he embraced us and whispered ‘I did it, I beat it. It was then I knew my dad wasn’t going anywhere for a long time,” Taylor said.