A TERMINALLY-ill dad-of-five has started a video blog to raise awareness and leave a legacy behind for his children – as he battles cancer for the second time.
Johnnie Meechan posted his first heartbreaking message on September 25 describing how cancer had returned after around 16 years in remission.
He has now set up Johnnie’s Journey Facebook page to share his thoughts, with the initial video post attracting over 30,000 hits. A JustGiving page has been set up by a friend to help the family and Johnnie is looking to raise funds for a cancer charity as his campaign progresses.
The 39-year-old, who lives in Tranent, said: “I want to leave a legacy for my children, something they can be proud of rather than being just the guy who was their dad and was always ill.”
Former post office worker Johnnie, was first diagnosed in the late 90s with a malignant tumour in his right knee. The keen amateur footballer who played for Lochend Boys Club among others was initially told by his GP that he was suffering from a minor sports injury or had fluid on the knee.
However, this progressed to four years of gruelling chemotherapy and major surgeries which Johnnie said was “utter hell” ending up with him being given a replacement knee and metal inserted into his thigh and shin bones. The nightmare didn’t end there though with doctors at the time giving Johnnie no more than five years to live.
Eventually, after years of pain he was given the choice of amputation, high above the right knee or more surgery with no more than a 30 per cent chance of success.
He said: “At that point I was done. It didn’t feel like a choice so I jumped at the chance of amputation. I just wanted it finished.”
Johnnie who lives with wife Evelyn, 40, and children Jamie, 17, Ellie, 15, Josh, 14, Sam aged eight and two-year-old Maia, started to develop a chest infection at the start of the year.
He said: “It was the worst I’ve felt since having my original blasts of chemo, I was utterly floored.
“I spent Christmas Day and a few days either side literally delirious. I had a huge fever and I virtually could not breath.
“In the end an emergency doctor from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary came out to the house and got it under control. After tests I was diagnosed with a dilated cardiomyopathy which means my heart doesn’t work as well as it should. “I was waiting for the results of a cardiac MRI heart scan then out of the blue they dragged me in for an abdominal CT scan – with no call, warning or reason.
“I knew from the off something wasn’t right and it was getting to me being kept in the dark.”
Johnnie was then given a series of endoscopy procedures where a camera was placed down his throat to reach the small intestine and take a biopsy. The next step in the diagnosis was a liver biopsy, through his side and past his ribs. He described the moment he was told the cancer had returned and was terminal.
Johnnie said: “Waited a few days, then they called me back to the clinic. I already knew in my heart it was back but that call cemented my theories. I’m going to skip that meeting as it was awful.
“Not so much for me but for my wife and mum, they were just shattered.
“Cancer had returned – it had started around the small intestine and had spread to the liver.”
Johnnie has a relatively rare form of cancer called a neuroendocrine tumour, commonly known as NET.
He is determined something positive can come out of his experience and decided to start a Facebook page.
He said: “We were truly humbled and stunned at the way the first video was received.
“The kids are dealing with it in their own way – all I can do is try to reassure them.”