"Ignorance is bliss, right!?"

by Matt Davey

Spain, 2018.

Coming to the end of my first solo trip around Europe, I was revelling in independence, tapas and a new found freedom (or so I thought).

En-route to Barcelona, via an overly packed Topdeck bus, I had woken up on the floor of the aisle surrounded by my (quite concerned) travel buddies. I’d had a seizure, passed out and managed to punch someone in the face in the process.

Sadly, my bike tour of Sagrada Familia and Park Güell were off the cards + I was taken to Barcelona University Hospital instead.

Tests, MRI’s, lumbar punctures and a lot of confusion ensued, but four days passed and my hospital companion Kaitlyn + I were none the wiser. I discharged myself and flew back to Australia.

Arriving home, I had more tests, appointments and stayed with my family but didn’t think too much. Ignorance is bliss, right!? Maybe not.

Cancer. Brain Cancer.

Diagnosis. Prognosis. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Brain Surgery. Doctors with no real understanding of how to communicate this to a 23-year old.

From here, I left my life in Melbourne – my career, my apartment, my friends and everything I was building to tackle this new challenge back with my family in Queensland. Up until this point, I’d always been fairly healthy – I went to the gym regularly, ate well and made good decisions.. why was this happening to ME?

A new GP, specialist neurology team, surgeons and an influx of other doctors consumed my life over the next few months. I had brain surgery, and later radiation therapy to ‘manage’ the cancer. Regular scans, scattered conversations and SO MANY reports helped to keep me occupied post-treatment. What was next?

Medication. Anxiety. Epilepsy. Seizures. Chronic Fatigue.

I tried to return to my corporate job a few months later. Started volunteering. Met new people, and put myself back out in the social scene. Tried dating. Started a podcast. Tried corporate again. Planned to travel overseas again. Experienced COVID-19 as someone with chronic-health conditions. Learnt a LOT. Rested. Became more proactive with my health. Returned to exercise. Found a great therapist. Started dating someone new. Worked with, and advocated for charities. Regained my independence.

Some things worked, others didn’t. But it was important for me to keep trying.

Throughout the process of living with cancer and epilepsy, I’ve always remained optimistic, and learnt something from the experience.

At a health retreat in late-2021, I began to design Mend, with the vision to help people living with chronic-health conditions manage their health, stay connected and have access to support.

I’m looking forward to what’s next, and excited to be a part of building a better patient experience for the CH community.

Thanks for reading.

Be Well,

Co-founder, Mend


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