Keon was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March 2020 at the age of just 39.
Over the coming months Keon experienced a variety of vague symptoms, including persistent abdominal pain, which was put down to other less serious illnesses before receiving his final diagnosis. This is an all too common path for the almost 4,000 Australians estimated to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.
It was an acute bout of crippling abdominal pain that finally made his GP send Keon for blood tests and a CT scan which revealed a tumour the size of a plum on the head of his pancreas, with secondary lesions on his liver.
Keon was then confronted with the cruelty of learning the harsh reality of the disease – that only 10.7% of patients survive five years post-diagnosis. He was told that his best option was to go home and live whatever time he had left.
Not one to give up that easily, Keon sought a second opinion with another oncologist. Although ineligible for surgery to remove the tumour, Keon commenced a chemotherapy regimen (Folfirinox) to prolong his life. Months later in July this year, his test results showed the initial treatment was working – a significant reduction in tumour size and key cancer markers. Keon was also offered genetic testing which showed that he carries the BRCA2 gene – a known genetic abnormality that increases predisposition to some cancers – which has afforded him the opportunity to trial a targeted therapy drug known to treat metastatic breast, prostate and ovarian cancer in those with an abnormal inherited BRCA gene.