My name is Jason Deans, a 34-year-old married father of 2 (Aged 8 & 2) from Central Scotland.
Having just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary the month before and full of the joy that the special landmark brought us, a football pre-season friendly on 29th September 2020 would prove to be the beginning of my cancer journey.
At a strange point in the game (60 minutes), I felt a twinge in my groin that caught my attention. Given it was not painful enough to end my game, I instantly dismissed it as a muscle strain that may require some rest after the game.
At the age of 33 and in danger of not seeing too many more “1st games of the season” I decided, after 10 days rest to get back playing. I played on the Saturday and the Tuesday but deep down I knew I was kidding myself on and after the Tuesday game I held my hands up.
Following 5 weeks of rest, the pain in my groin was not improving and at certain points of the day it felt worse. Fortunately, my work provides me with private health insurance and after a courtesy meeting with my GP I contacted an orthopaedic consultant through private channels. I had an X-ray on the day which showed nothing out of the ordinary and I was referred for an MRI scan to further investigate.
The MRI scan results came back to show that I did have an adductor muscle tear in my groin, however they also found a 5cm tumour on my pubic bone that on first opinion was thought to be a benign enchondroma. Given this was outside my original consultant’s area of speciality, I was referred to the bone cancer team at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
The 3-month process of diagnosis began with a CT guided biopsy in early December. Unfortunately, on 18th December, as I sat on a works virtual Christmas party with a santa hat on, the results from the CT guided biopsy came back as inconclusive due to the difficulty in getting a sample from the pubic bone.
A wait from early December until late January was required before I could be admitted for an open biopsy which took place on January 27th. On the 10th of February 2021 I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma.
No matter the cancer, no matter the grade, no matter your age and no matter your history, a doctor sitting at the end of your bed telling you “Unfortunately it’s cancer" is an incredibly difficult thing to process and we were no different.
A CT scan and full body bone scan followed, with an agonising 2 week wait for results. I will never forget sitting in the consultation room waiting for the results and looking at my watch to see my heart rate hovering around the 120bpm mark without moving a muscle. Fortunately, there was no signs of spread in other parts of my body and surgery to remove the section of my pubic bone could now go ahead as planned on 23rd March 2021.
In the time between diagnosis and surgery, my shower became my happy place oddly enough. It was a place where I could let the water bounce of my head, have my own thoughts, be vulnerable and cry if I wanted to without my kids seeing me.
As I lay scared on my bed the night before surgery I thought deeply about a lot of things and one thing that sticks with me from that night was a stark realisation that the only thing I will truly leave behind is my legacy. Material things will be long forgotten but the impact I have on the world and those around me is what I will be remembered for. I will challenge myself to live by this every day going forward.
The 9-hour surgery was completed successfully as planned and following a 10 day stay in hospital, having received wonderful care, I was allowed home to my wife and kids who I had not seen for 4 weeks due to self-isolation pre op and strict visiting rules post op. A truly amazing feeling seeing them and being home. My wife has been incredible and walked every step with me, whilst also being the amazing NHS nurse that she is. A private nurse whilst at home was also very handy, for me anyway!
On the 19th of April 2021, we received the final pathology reports which confirmed the surgery had been successful in removing all of the tumour with wide margins. The final piece of uncertainty from the original diagnosis was removed for us and I moved in to a 6-month recovery process to get me back on my feet, as well as routine scanning for the next 10 years.
I am grateful for so many things over the past 7 months, not least the world class surgeons who provided me with the best of care and an outcome that I didn’t think possible just a few short months ago.
I am 3 months through recovery and making good progress physically with a return to low levels of walking and cycling as well as upper body gym activity. It has not always been easy and to go from being very active to being dependent on others for some basic things is difficult to adjust to, however an inner fight keeps me going and celebrating small wins has been crucial for me. I never knew being able to put my own socks on would give me such joy!
I am honest enough to say that I still have days of mental challenge and the fear of reoccurrence is weighing heavy on my mind so early in my recovery, however I keep telling myself I can't control reoccurrence and I hope in the passing of time this will reduce.
I don’t quite know yet if I will play football again, however what I do know is that when I am able to run again, and as soon as my body is ready, I will be running a marathon route with the Bone Cancer Research Trust t-shirt on my back.
The charity has been such a great source of information and support during our darkest time. Thank you Bone Cancer Research Trust!