Josh upbeat despite long fight for life
"THERE have been times when I have felt I can't go on anymore... But then something kicks in and I think 'no this isn't going to beat me'.”
That's the unwavering spirit of 19-year-old Joshua Ruane, who's spent the last four years fighting for his life.
The Childers teenager was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 15.
"After receiving chemo for about a week and a half, I was allowed to leave the hospital to stay nearby but unfortunately, I contracted an E-Coli bug that attacked my body due to a suppressed immune system from the chemo resulting in what they call Rhabdomyolysis which destroyed the muscles in my arms and legs,” he said.
"They relate Rhabdomyolysis as like being in the vicinity of a bomb blast and having the repercussions pass through your body - I was unable to walk and told that I might never be able to again.
"I spent four months in bed but with the help of my physio and occupational therapist over15 months I was able to build my strength back up and get into a wheelchair, then eventually on to crutches before being able to give them away as well.”
Josh spent his first of four trips in ICU in January 2014, after he collapsed in the Leukemia village with pneumonia - Josh has had to fight not only cancer, but treatment, infection and the emotional strain of uncertainty.
"I have since learnt that it was pretty touch and go for awhile, with doctors unsure as to whether I was going to pull through,” he said.
"The doctors wanted me to have a bone marrow transplant but couldn't do it while I had the infection and they couldn't wait for drugs to clear it because it risked the Leukemia taking over.
In order to have the bone marrow transplant from his older brother Stephen, 1/3 of Josh's lung was removed to avoid infection, landing Josh in ICU for the second time.
In 2015 the cancer was back and Stephen donated his stem cells to try and help his brother. Josh said 14 months after his second transplant, a mass of Leukemia cells wrapped around the blood vessels and air ways above his heart - "more or less choking me to death”.
Since undergoing 10 sessions of radiation to help shrink the mass, Josh said "everything looks good” and while it's been a tough time for his whole family, he's not letting anything stop him from living.
"I'm going to have a normal life doing the things anyone of my age is doing - I want to go to TAFE and do a Cert II in Electro technology so I can become an Electrician,” he said.
"I want to just spend time with my mates hanging out and doing whatever, I want to go four-wheel-driving with my brother on Fraser Island at the end of April.
Josh said the plan is to harvest t-cells from Stephen over the next six months and inject them to bring on Graft Versus Host (G.V.H) and Graft Versus Leukemia, which he hopes will remove remainng cancer cells.
To help Josh, visit his GoFundMe page, http://bit.ly/2miTicm