In 2021, Craig Denning was your average Australian dad—working to pay the bills and support his family, coaching sport on the weekends and making memories on the river with his kids. Little did he know that a seemingly innocent pulled muscle would lead to a terminal cancer diagnosis, with a prognosis of two or three years.
One day, after the pain of his pulled muscle became too much, he ended up alone in the Noarlunga Hospital Emergency Department where he received his shock cancer diagnosis.
I had an ultrasound and was then taken to a little room within the Emergency Department where I was told. The doctors’ words I will never forget; she said: ‘I’m so sorry… you’ve got cancer’. I went blank. I was numb. I couldn’t believe it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the pain in my stomach was cancer.”
But, for Craig, as gut-wrenching as his out-of-the-blue diagnosis was, the worst was yet to come—he hadn’t seen the impact it was going to have on his wife, let alone all three kids.
The doctor asked if there was someone I could call, and so I called my wife. I couldn’t tell her why she needed to come, just that I needed her to. But she knew. She knew something was wrong. She knew it wasn’t good.
When she made it to the hospital, I saw her face, she held my hand and just cried. And in that second my emotions stopped. In that moment I knew, for her, for the kids and for myself, that we had to be as positive as we could be, no matter what.”
Since that day, staying positive has been Craig’s focus, and one that is helping him make the most of every day he has left with the ones he loves. Even through harsh weekly chemotherapy infusions. Even after being told his cancer was terminal and he had just two or three years to live.
Cancer stepped into my life and put a date on my time, but I won’t let it stop me doing anything I want to do. It won’t stop me living how I want to live.
I’m lucky because I’m still playing golf, still going water-skiing with my family… I’m still doing all of my favourite things. I feel so grateful that I currently still have the energy to live, to be able to be out there doing what I love. I really am enjoying life more than I ever have.”
Despite his positive outlook, Craig knows the reality is he may only have two or three years left to live, to be with his family.
We’re trying to go on plenty of family holidays but there are lots of little moments, simple things, that create memories too. They are the most special, I don’t need much. I just need to be with my family.”
While trying to remain positive, Craig and his family have had their challenges with the cancer diagnosis, thankfully, Cancer Council SA was there every step of the way.
For me, Cancer Council SA was there from the moment I found out about my diagnosis. Right after the doctors told me the news, I met the sweetest Cancer Council SA Outreach Nurse who came up to me and said the right thing—she understood. She knew. She had all the information and could answer all my questions, and that’s when I first felt like there was support there. I had such great support from Cancer Council SA from that first day, there was no way I could ever feel alone.
For my wife too, she missed all of my doctor appointments because of COVID-19 so it was great for her to have somewhere to go, someone to talk to, who could make sense of what I’d been told by the oncologist, someone who could understand it all.
Cancer Council SA was there to help us understand treatment, diagnosis and what support was available. Knowing that support was there was priceless.”
By sharing his heart-breaking yet inspirational story with the South Australian community, Craig hopes to help Cancer Council SA raise $30,600 to help fund the continuation of vital support services like Cancer Council 13 11 20 which ensure no one has to go through cancer alone.
If you would like to give to Craig’s appeal and support Cancer Council SA’s vital services like Cancer Council 13 11 20, click here.