Bethanie’s ‘miracle’ in Greenfields

Publish date: 26 March 2024

In Kaye’s own words, John is ‘my miracle man’. 

Hearing his remarkable story of survival against all odds, it’s easy to understand why this lovely couple are embracing their new life at Bethanie Housing in the Peel region.

Diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2022, John was on the hunt for a more permanent living situation after travelling on and off and not putting down roots for many years.

“We were in a big house with a huge garden, and I wanted to get settled into something more suitable for Kaye, knowing that my time was limited,” said John.

“It was my focus; to find a house Kaye would be happy in that would give me peace of mind.”

A villa came up with Bethanie Housing in March 2023 and they both agree the news was ‘wonderful’.  Nestled in among a group of just 17 in peaceful Greenfields near Mandurah, the couple found a kind and supportive community of people when they needed it most.

“Our Housing team of Jayne and Deborah have been absolutely incredible,” said John.  “They have helped us connect to services and people, and have provided wonderful assistance to us through this whole transition.”

They also agree that their new home provided the right mix of wellbeing and community for John to fight his cancer diagnosis, and receive the fantastic news of remission in October.

“There is no doubt that this stability and happiness have been good for our mental health,” John added.  “Bethanie has been marvellous to us.”

But pancreatic cancer wasn’t John’s first brush with cancer.  He is one of the very few people in the world that has had three unrelated primary cancers at different times of his life.  An estimated 3 percent of people carry the honour, one that John would rather not be associated with.

A melanoma was his first brush with cancer back in 2000 which required surgery and 12 months of treatment.  With a long break, John discovered a ‘strange red bruising’ on his chest in 2017 and was diagnosed with breast cancer – with the added distinction of being the only man with the disease in WA at the time.

“I was so driven to educate men about breast cancer, that I wrote a daily diary and had TV and radio interviews to spread awareness at the time.  I hope it made a difference to someone.”

Straight from two years of treatment for breast cancer and into pancreatic cancer, John and Kaye are incredibly positive and upbeat.  They make the most of every day; John loves to do all the cooking, and Kaye is part of a craft group and regular games mornings.

Among other creative pursuits, Kaye makes ‘sentimental teddies’ as grief support and can sell up to 400 in a year.  John does a little bit of consulting work, creating architectural drawings for small extensions, granny flats and patios.

Their happiness is palpable.  They have been given the gift of life – three times over – and while their 24 years together has been tough, they are optimistic about the next phase together, with good health and a safe community around them.

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