Energised and empowered, Callum Dodson brought the entire community along for his rollercoaster journey to good health after his diagnosis with bowel cancer.
In the middle of last year, the then 22-year-old, who was fighting a rare form of bowel cancer, wanted to deliver the message that you are never too young to be diagnosed. The keen Chelsea Heights football player was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare malignant neoplasm present in the bowel called clear cell sarcoma.
The intensive treatment took a toll on Callum, who found the countless check-ups and scans after surgery to be “traumatic”. Having missed out on his football grand final, he had to mentally come to terms with the unknown factor of his condition.
The Chelsea Heights community, led by Phil and Amy Smith with the support of both the cricket and football club, put on a fundraiser to help towards the cost of his treatment. “It would have been tough financially without the overwhelming support from the community,” Callum says. “The support has been amazing, with people often asking how I was travelling.”
In November Callum was given the all-clear until he undergoes further tests this month and has since worked closely with a counsellor at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to assist with his mental wellbeing. The 'unknown factor’ of clear cell sarcoma, however, means Callum will have to undergo check-ups every five months.
“I am feeling positive, I’ve put on weight and I feel a lot better within myself,” he says. “My body is starting to heal from the surgery and I have gained mental strength from getting back into sport, but I still have those ups and downs.”
With a positive and determined mindset from the onset of diagnosis, Callum now hopes to raise awareness and money via Kick it for Cancer, which would be a special event within the season for the Southern Football League. He and Ricky Nixon have been working on the project that is in the pipeline for 2018.
Bowel Cancer Australia states that more than 1300 Australians under the age of 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. “This was something that I wasn’t expecting at my age and it can happen to anyone at any time,” Callum says. For further information, see bowelcanceraustralia.org/
CAMERON HOWE (camhowe.com/)