Since beating lymphoma first at the age of 19, Wellington man Phil Kerslake has been diagnosed with both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma seven times.
Having lived with cancer for nearly forty years, if anyone knows how to cope with a cancer diagnosis, it’s Phil. Phil is said to be the most prolific cancer survivor in New Zealand after overcoming a staggering eight cancer diagnoses in the past 38 years. He most recently fought a battle and had extensive treatment for lymphoma and skin cancer in 2016.
Phil’s first cancer diagnosis came in 1979 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was given 10 years to live.
“It’s so important to have a determined and resilient attitude. I could have given up so many times throughout the years but I take on each challenge with an optimistic attitude knowing I will not let it beat me,” he says.
Phil’s positive attitude and incredible story have motivated him to inspire others living with cancer and he is the author of “Life, happiness & cancer” – the leading support book for those affected by cancer.
Phil is also putting his foot forward to raise awareness of lymphoma, the sixth most common cancer in New Zealand, in conjunction with Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) for World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD) this Friday on September 15.
Phil will feature in an international campaign called ‘The Small Things Make the Biggest Difference’ being led by the Lymphoma Coalition, a network comprised of 70 blood cancer organisations across the word, of which LBC is an active member.
Phil and other New Zealand patients will be sharing what the little thing is that made the biggest difference to them via a social media campaign.
When facing each cancer diagnosis, Phil says the small thing for him was communicating with his medical team that made all the difference.
“You’ve got to communicate openly and equally with your doctors so you can get absolutely everything out of your treatment and do all you can to fight it,” says Phil.
Pru Etcheverry, CEO of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand and also Chair of the Lymphoma Coalition stresses the need for New Zealanders to become more aware of diseases like lymphoma.
“So many people notice small changes in their health but put it down to being busy, over tired or run down when many of these symptoms can be early signs of lymphoma.”
“Lymphoma can be difficult to both diagnose and understand so it’s important that New Zealanders know as much about the disease as possible and how it can affect you.”
“We urge New Zealanders to pay attention to the small things which really can make a huge difference to their health,” says Ms Etcheverry.
#EverythingChanges when we pay attention to the small things.