A man who had tumours so big they broke his collarbone has become part of history after a medical trial saved him.
Now his wife, who had breast cancer at the same time, is releasing a book about their journey to help people struggling through cancer.
Hamiltonians Russell Bishop and his wife Rowan had their healthy, active lives turned upside down after Bishop was diagnosed with double-hit lymphoma, a mutation of two rare and highly-aggressive cancers which can resist traditional chemotherapy.
“It was devastating, it just stunned us really,” he said.
“I found out later a tumour had broken my collarbone and I hadn’t even noticed it there was so much pain in my back.”
The 66-year-olds were on holiday in France three years ago when Bishop first felt some back pain. Within three weeks he was under the knife to stop a tumour from piercing his spinal cord and paralysing him.
Bishop said in hindsight he missed some key warning signs of cancer like night sweats, pain and losing concentration. Cancer never sprung to mind as he had been fully checked in April, but by September 2013 he had a “raging bunch of tumours” in his back.
The Waikato University professor started treatment with a month-long chemotherapy course.
“I nearly died. That was such an aggressive treatment and it makes you really nauseous. I lost 20kg in a month.”
But the worst part was that the treatment hadn’t worked.