Thomas Farquhar's life-saving decision to see a doctor

Bowral resident Thomas Farquhar was diagnosed stage three stage primary mediastinal large diffuse b-cell lymphoma recently, after he developed “weird symptoms” that “didn’t feel right”. Photo: Emily Bennett
Bowral resident Thomas Farquhar was diagnosed stage three stage primary mediastinal large diffuse b-cell lymphoma recently, after he developed “weird symptoms” that “didn’t feel right”. Photo: Emily Bennett

If Thomas Farquhar put off going to his doctor, he would’ve “literally dropped dead”.

Four weeks ago the 26-year-old Bowral resident developed several “weird symptoms” that “didn’t feel right”.

Out of the blue Thomas had itchy skin, followed by dizziness, blurred vision and breathing difficulties.

The symptoms didn’t go away so Thomas visited his doctor, who conducted a range of tests to get to the bottom of Thomas’ symptoms.

Go and get a blood test, go and get every test you can because the risk of it and the chance of it growing quickly if you do get it [is big]. It’s life or death.

The diagnosis was stage-three primary mediastinal large diffuse b-cell lymphoma.

“I thought my symptoms were really minor. They ended up finding a lump the size of a cricket ball in my chest,” Thomas said. “It was a good thing I got it checked out, otherwise a couple of weeks later I would’ve literally dropped dead.”

Thomas had a biopsy and within a week the lymphoma in his chest had spread to up his throat, out to his shoulders and down into his stomach.

What followed was a “whirlwind” few weeks for Thomas, who required “immediate treatment”.

“[The doctors said] ‘we have to get you treated immediately, you’re at stage three and in a week you could be at stage four],” he said.

“It was incredibly fast-moving and aggressive.”

Thomas’ treatment included three weeks’ worth of tests and a week of chemotherapy, which started last week.

Over the next six months, Thomas will undergo chemotherapy every three weeks.

“It’s been an absolute whirlwind and completely life-changing,” he said.

“It’s going to change my life forever. I’m going to constantly get checks.”

Thomas wants his experience to be a wake-up call to every single person, young and old, who ignores their symptoms or doesn’t make time to go to the doctor.

“If you find that you do have the symptoms, you’ve got to get it checked out,” he said.

“Go and get a blood test, go and get every test you can because the risk of it and the chance of it growing quickly if you do get it [is big]. It’s life or death.

Thomas Farquhar said men in particular were apprehensive to seek medical advice and that needed to change.

“Looking at me I look healthy but you don’t know what’s underlying. You need to know what’s going on inside of you,” he said.

“That’s the big thing for men, if they can’t see it, everything’s all good. We need to change that mentality.

“You’ll be a bigger man for getting it checked out and know what’s going on with your body, rather than not getting it checked out at all.”

Thomas said he has had a lot of support from the Southern Highlands community since he received his diagnosis.

“There’s been so many people in the area that have offered their support and help,” he said.

“It’s been amazing to see the amount of community support that’s come through.”

The 26-year-old said he would maintain a positive attitude on the road to recovery.

“I can’t let cancer rule my life. I’m going to kick this cancer out of my system and move on,” he said.

According to the Cancer Council, lymphomas refers to types of cancer that begin in the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma are the sixth most common form of cancer overall, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. 

Common symptoms of lymphoma include:

  • Unexplained fever
  • Swelling of one or more lymph glands such as in the neck, armpits, or at the angles of the legs
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Abnormal sweating, especially at night
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Weight loss
  • Rash or itching