A concrete layer diagnosed with incurable lung cancer at the age of 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 par for the course for a man who spent most of his waking hours on a construction site.
His world was shattered in October 2017 when a routine scan revealed tumours had grown across the entirety of his left lung, days before he was due to marry his long-term partner, Sian, in Bali.
Doctors gave him just 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, smoked since the age of 15 and wants others who do the same to realise they are not invincible.
Kane Wolter (right, with wife Sian) had suffered from back pain for years, but assumed it was par for the course for a man who spent most of his waking hours on a construction site
His world was shattered in October 2017 when a routine scan revealed tumours had grown across the entirety of 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 for six,’ wife Sian, 36, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We were about to go and get married, and life just flipped around.’
Despite his devastating prognosis, Kane responded well to targeted immunotherapy which has stopped the progression of his disease, but cannot cure it.
Four years after his diagnosis, he is back at work and likes to hike in his spare time. The family prefer not to dwell on how long he has left.
‘He went and climbed the You Yangs [mountains near Melbourne] the other day – you really wouldn’t know,’ said Sian.
‘It’s crazy how well he looks from the outside, but inside he’s really ill, he’s always in a lot of pain but never shows it.’
Despite his devastating prognosis, Kane responded well to targeted immunotherapy which has stopped the progression of his disease, but cannot cure it
Symptoms of lung cancer
The main symptoms of lung cancer are:
* A cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks
* A long-standing cough that gets worse
* Chest infections that keep coming back
* Coughing up blood
* An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
* Persistent breathlessness, tiredness 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 ends 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’s diagnosis, had sobering words for those who still do.
‘Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, but it was still a shock at 33,’ Sian said.
‘We never thought it would happen to us, but it did happen and it can happen to anyone. People should remember that.’
On top of his illness, the doting dad has had the stress of a pandemic to deal with.
‘It’s been pretty painful, it’s taken a lot from us,’ said Sian, who raises awareness about lung cancer on her Instagram account, The Patient’s Wife.
‘I can’t go in there to be with him during treatment, the kids can’t come in and they don’t understand why.’
She added: ‘Covid has take the personal part out of cancer care. Patients have no one to hold their hands or sit with them through eight hours in the chair while they’re having chemo, it’s a long day to do it all and it’s a lot to face all on your own.’
Kane (left, with Olivia, and right, with Indie) is one of an estimated 13,710 Australians diagnosed with lung cancer each year
Both Kane and Sian are double vaccinated, and the mum didn’t mince words when it came to anti-vaxxers protesting the jab.
‘It makes me quite angry,’ she said.
‘I just wish people would go and do it. Kane never asked what was in his chemo bag because he knew it could save his life, it’s the same with this – why hesitate?’
Kane is one of an estimated 13,710 Australians diagnosed with lung cancer each year.
It was the fifth most commonly 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 likes to hike in his spare time; the family don’t like to dwell on how long he has left
While lung cancer is widespread, it can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are vague and often do not present until advanced stages.
Unlike cervical, breast and colon cancer, there is no early screening programme for the disease.
Common warning signs include a persistent cough, recurring chest infections, coughing up blood, pain while breathing and unexplained weight loss.
Less common symptoms include changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger, and persistent back pain like Kane experienced.
For more information on lung cancer and treatment, please visit Cancer Council Australia here.