One of Peter Mac’s longest surviving patients was reunited with a radiation therapist who cared for him more than 40 years ago as a result of publicity surrounding Peter Mac’s move to its new home.
Some of Glen Cloke’s earliest memories involve coming to Peter Mac for cancer treatment and the staff entertaining him by drawing pictures on the backs of his hands.
Glen was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at just three years of age, turning his childhood during the 1960s and 70s into a blur of doctor’s appointments, worried parents and aggressive treatment.
He was the first child to receive an adult dose of radiotherapy – his parents facing a tough, last-ditch decision after his cancer did not respond to childhood treatments at the time.
As Glen explained to the Herald Sun recently, his case “helped write the book on Hodgkins Lymphoma” and he still returns to Peter Mac every year for a check-up.
When Glen, now 53, was invited in May to tour Melbourne’s new state-of-the-art VCCC building before Peter Mac moved in, he mentioned a goal to meet and thank those who showed him so much care more than 40 years ago.
“When things were bad and I was not coping too well, they would draw little pussy cats or dogs on the backs of my hands to take my mind off things,” Glen wrote to Peter Mac.
“It was a simple thing but it always brought a smile.
“I would love to catch up with them and thank them so much, and for them to see me now.”
Glen shared his story with ABC reporters at the building tour and this led to coverage in Victoria’s regional press.
Days later, retired Peter Mac radiation therapist Faye Tuchtan opened her local newspaper, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, and saw a familiar face.
“I remembered Glen straight away saying to my husband, `I treated him when he was only a child!’,” says Faye, who worked at Peter Mac from 1964 to 1992.
“I treated a number of children in my days at Peter Mac and some stay easily in my memory. Glen Cloke is certainly one of those.”
Faye was delighted to read in the article that Glen wanted to make contact. She tracked down Glen’s phone number (they live about an hour’s drive apart) and they arranged to meet the same day.
When they were reacquainted in early June, Faye drew an animal on Glen’s hand. Faye has also since visited Glen’s mum in a nursing home.
Faye remembers Glen as a “likeable child, obliging and fun, with very supportive parents” and says it was great to see him so healthy today.
“I am so pleased that he remembered even my drawings on his hand, though you can see that my artistic skills are very limited,” she says.
“There are some wonderful things that happen in life and reading Glen’s article and meeting him again was one of them for me.”