John Tandy was an exceptionally busy GP working from early in the morning til late at night until he was diagnosed with myeloma 10 years ago. He noticed a pain in his foot for 6 weeks that hurt every time he stepped on the car accelerator. A CAT scan on a Friday revealed a 7cm mass on his spine, by Monday he was having a bone marrow biopsy and 4 days later it was confirmed. John had myeloma.
An MRI revealed the extent of his myeloma, just about every bone had cancerous lesions. He tried to seek comfort in the fact that his kidneys were untouched, and he was only borderline anaemic. However, as a GP he had treated patients with myeloma and all had passed away. He raced home and opened his best bottle of wine believing he would not have long to enjoy it! His oncologist, however, had other plans for John and got him onto a trial with a new drug, Velcade, that glimmer of hope saved John and his wine cellar.
Within two cycles his bloods were back to normal, but a STEM cell transplant was still necessary to ensure his myeloma was kept at bay. Over the past ten years he has remained in good health with some reduced physical capacity. He still gets out walking, loves travelling and has seen his kids bring their own kids into the world.
John’s diagnosis allowed him to reassess his life, he wanted to spend time with his wife and children, ensuring they were happy and settled with partners in life. He never thought he would get the chance to see so many grandchildren.
His diagnosis was also the trigger for his sons, to speak with John’s haematologist Prof Miles Prince AM, about starting a charity. One of his sons, Rob, had worked with the Cancer Council and was keen to continue working with a not for profit organisation. So Rob, Miles and another passionate individual, Grant Rutherford got together, and the Snowdome Foundation was born. However, for the Tandy’s, Snowdome is really a family affair. His daughter, Georgie, is heavily involved in the event committee for the annual ‘Bloody Good Dinner’ fundraiser; his son, Angus, helps to fundraise for Snowdome in WA and Rob is a co-founder and active board member.
John is happy to share his experience of undergoing a STEM cell transplant with others embarking on the same journey. His advice is to be positive. John currently doesn’t need to take any medication but is reassured by the number of new treatments available and many more in development. While myeloma is currently incurable, John is quietly confident his myeloma is a chronic condition not a terminal one.