While the world spent 2020 battling COVID-19, Dean Cole had another challenge thrown into the mix – being diagnosed with blood cancer.
Dean says that his body first tipped him off that something was wrong when he woke up with chest pains on a Sunday morning.
“I thought I had just slept quite awkwardly and I didn’t really think too much of it. But over the period of about five days, it became really, really intense. I was at work, and I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t breathe.”
From there, Dean went to visit his GP who saw him right away. She ran a whole bunch of tests, which included a chest x-ray and some bloodwork. His results showed that he was slightly anaemic, along with a few other ‘abnormalities’. It was then that his GP referred Dean to a haematologist who ordered a bone marrow biopsy.
“He got me back in a couple of days later and said that it was myeloma and that we needed to get me started on some treatment, quickly!”
This news came in January 2020, but his symptoms started in the middle of December 2019.
“We were on edge over Christmas. It was quite scary.”
Despite his concerns over a potential diagnosis, Dean and his wife Jasmin decided not to tell their daughters (Anika who was 6, the twins Aaliyah and Jayde at 7, and 9 year old Maea) until they were sure. Their response, when the couple did tell them, was one that we can all take to heart:
“We still see you as you.”
Dean had a stem cell transplant in July, and throughout his journey has since kept in contact with his Christchurch-based LBC Support Services Coordinator, Matthew Eby, who had made contact with him within days of his diagnosis. The couple’s four daughters also attend the LBC Kids Club, which he says they thoroughly enjoy. Dean summarised these key touch points in one word, “support”.
“A random phone call from Matt every now and then to see how I’m doing is quite heart-warming. It’s these little things, like showing you they care.”