Hey, my name is Caleb Keegan. I’m twenty-two years old and I have a zest for life. Soon after I turned fifteen I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma – a generally easy-to-treat Lymphatic Cancer. I say unexpectedly because it’s the last thing one would expect at fifteen!
Over the past seven years I’ve had chemotherapy and radiation numerous times. In 2007. I had an Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant, but still it wasn’t enough to fend off the impostor.
In the early months of 2010 I started having chemo again and this continued through 2011 with my haematologist trying everything in the book, using different types and combinations of treatment to eradicate the cancer. Unfortunately, not all of it went away and what was left continued to grow. So in July 2012 I started my final course of chemo which was a new combination of very strong drugs. After completion I was devastated to find out that again not everything was gone and what remained was now much worse than before.
In December 2012 the doctors decided that drastic surgery was needed to prevent the tumour from spreading and the surgeon removed my left lung and part of the pericardium. My haematologist says that this has only bought us some time, but he has exhausted all the conventional treatments. So basically we have run out of options although there is a new drug with a high success rate being used overseas. This treatment, called Brentuximab vedotin, is not yet authorised in South Africa and is extremely expensive. We have obtained permission to bring the drug into South Africa and my Doctor is willing to try this new therapy. If this succeeds in bringing the disease into remission then I can have a donor bone-marrow transplant which I hope will control this cancer.
I will be honest with you, I am scared. I’m scared because over the past seven years I have allowed the treatment programs and the cancer control my life. I have only recently found peace within all this and have just started living.
I hope that one day, I too can help someone like me. Let’s do this together. I cannot do this without you.”