A concrete slab diagnosed with incurable lung cancer at age 33 has issued a warning about the little-known symptom that was the only one he experienced.
Kane Wolter had suffered from back pain for years, but assumed it was normal for a man who spent most of his waking hours on a construction site.
His world came crashing down in October 2017 when a routine scan revealed tumors had grown all over his left lung, days before he was due to marry his long-term partner, Sian, in Bali.
Doctors gave him only months to live, but the father of two from Geelong, Victoria, has defied their predictions and says he is determined to see his little girls Olivia, eight, and Indie, five, grow up.
Kane, now 37, has smoked since the age of 15 and wants others who do the same to realize that they are not invincible.
Kane Wolter (right, with wife Sian) had suffered from back pain for years, but assumed it was normal for a man who spent most of his waking hours on a construction site
His world came crashing down in October 2017 when a routine scan revealed tumors had grown all over his left lung (Mr Wolter is pictured with his daughters Olivia and Indie)
“We had no idea he was sick, no idea what was coming. It knocked us out for six,’ wife Sian, 36, told the Daily Mail Australia.
“We were about to get married, and life just turned around.”
Despite his devastating prognosis, Kane has responded well to targeted immunotherapy that has halted but cannot cure the progression of his disease.
Four years after his diagnosis, he is back to work and enjoys hiking in his spare time. The family prefers not to think about how much longer he has.
‘He went and climbed the You Yangs [mountains near Melbourne] last — you really wouldn’t know,’ said Sian.
“It’s bizarre how good he looks from the outside, but inside he’s really sick, he’s always in a lot of pain but never shows it.”
Despite his devastating prognosis, Kane has responded well to targeted immunotherapy that has halted the progression of his disease, but cannot cure it.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
The main symptoms of lung cancer are:
* A cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks
* A prolonged cough that gets worse
* Chest infections that keep coming back
* Coughing up blood
* Pain or soreness when breathing or coughing
* Persistent shortness of breath, fatigue or lack of energy
* Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Less common symptoms may include:
* Changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their tips becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
* Difficulty or pain when swallowing
* Wheezing or hoarse voice
* Swelling of your face or neck
* Persistent chest or shoulder pain
Source: Cancer Council Australia
The Wolters, who both smoked for more than a decade before Kane was diagnosed, had sobering words for those who still do.
“Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, but it was still a shock when I was 33,” Sian said.
“We never thought it would happen to us, but it did and it can happen to anyone. People have to remember that.’
In addition to his illness, the loving father has endured the stress of a pandemic.
“It’s been pretty painful, it’s taken a lot out of us,” says Sian, who is raising awareness about lung cancer on her Instagram account The Patient’s Wife.
“I can’t go in to be with him during the treatment, the children aren’t allowed in and they don’t understand why.”
She added: ‘Covid has taken the personal part of cancer care. Patients have no one to hold their hands or sit in the chair with them for eight hours while they are on chemo, it’s a long day to do everything and it’s a lot to stand alone.”
Kane (left, with Olivia, and right, with Indie) is one of an estimated 13,710 Australians who develop lung cancer each year
Both Kane and Sian have been double vaccinated, and the mother didn’t mince words when it came to anti-vaxxers protesting the jab.
“It makes me pretty angry,” she said.
“I wish people would do it. Kane never asked what was in his chemo pouch because he knew it could save his life, so it is with this – why hesitate?’
Kane is one of an estimated 13,710 Australians who develop lung cancer each year.
It was the fifth most diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2017 and is expected to remain so in 2021.
Four years after his diagnosis, Kane is back at work and enjoys hiking in his spare time; the family does not like to dwell on how much longer he has
Although lung cancer is widespread, it can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are vague and often don’t show up until an advanced stage.
Unlike cervical, breast, and colon cancers, there is no early screening program for the disease.
Common warning signs include a persistent cough, recurrent respiratory infections, coughing up blood, pain when breathing, and unexplained weight loss.
Less common symptoms include changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more bent or their tips getting bigger, and persistent back pain like Kane experienced.
For more information on lung cancer and treatment, visit Cancer Council Australia here.