Queensland personal trainer with rare form of cancer could see his legs amputated if he exercises | 7NEWS.com.au
An extremely fit Queensland personal trainer and body builder has been blindsided by a cancer diagnosis that means he can’t exercise – or he risks losing his leg.
Rockhampton man Chakkri Saelow – or Chucky for short – recently discovered he had developed pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma in his left leg.
It’s a form of cancer so rare that there’s only been three other recorded cases in Queensland’s medical history.
The cancer is essentially “eating out the inside of his femur bone,” his wife Carina told .
Chucky, 25, went under the knife over the weekend, with doctors cutting out 14cm of his leg bone, meaning he will have to kiss goodbye to his career as a personal trainer.
To make matters worse, Chucky’s wife Carina also has a rare and lifelong condition know as Von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL), which one in every 36,000 people suffer from.
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“We have to be very careful, because with the leg being so weak, he’s not able to be working,” Carina says, speaking from the hospital room while Chucky drifts in and out of consciousness.
“If he tripped or anything like that, and fractured his bone, it would have to be amputated.”
With 14cm of his bone replaced with prosthetics, Chucky will never be able to hit the gym as hard as he once did.
“He’s having to retrain work-wise. The surgeon wants him to look at something less PT,” Carina adds.
The news is devastating for Chucky, as he is a gym junkie and has no other career prospects.
His loving wife recalled one time Chucky managed to do 1000 burpees in just under four hours, as a challenge.
“He won’t be able to train on his (left) leg ever again,” Carina says.
“As a body-builder, he’s always had quite big muscles, he’s always enjoyed training legs. He’ll never be able to do something that physical. A big rethink.”
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Carina, who has two kids aged nine and 12, is now appealing for assistance via a GoFundMe campaign, to help the family survive financially.
They currently rely solely on Carina’s income to get by.
They’ve also relocated to Brisbane to help with Chucky’s ongoing medical treatments, which she believes has slashed their personal training business to just a quarter of its original capacity.
She is now doing online personal training, to keep teaching some of her Rockhampton clients while living in Brisbane.
“With both of us currently operating our business at less than a quarter of its previous capacity (online only) and mounting expenses we are asking for any help that you might be able to provide to us during this stressful and difficult time,” she says.
“There have been a number of medical expenses incurred during this time as well as the requirement to relocate to Brisbane for ongoing treatment for not only Chucky but myself as my condition has progressed.”
Carina’s VHL condition means she “develops tumours in my nervous system.”
She has in excess of 20 brain tumours and also tumours in her spinal chord, as well as a Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in her kidney.
Although she says the tumours are “stable” – for now – it is a cause for concern, and a medical expense to be paid later down the track.
Last year began badly for the Saelow family. They lost their jobs at a gym because of COVID-19 – Corina was notified just an hour before her shift started that her employer had decided her contract wouldn’t be renewed.
Then, in June 2020, Chucky started feeling a persistent pain in his left knee.
He was misdiagnosed, with doctors telling him he had torn his quad muscle.
Corina found this “strange” as she knew her husband “hadn’t been doing any heavy movements”.
After getting a second opinion in July, they realised it was cancer.
Before he underwent a five-week stint doing radiation, the couple, who had been together for four years, decided to get married.
They became husband and wife on Wednesday September 21, 2020.
On the Friday, Chucky headed into his radiation therapy.
Unfortunately, it had little to no effect on his cancer.
They decided they would have to go ahead with surgery, which involved removing his bone and replacing it with prosthetics.
Despite everything, Chucky is keeping his spirits up.
He’s been giving personal training advice in an online setting.
Carina is thankful he was in peak physical shape when he was diagnosed, because it has allowed him to recover from the surgery a lot more easily.
“He managed to walk with his crutches and no other aid (after the surgery),” she says.
“Especially relying on that right leg so much, he’s got quite a lot of strength and muscle size.
“The left has wasted away a lot in the last seven months.
“He’s managed to go to the gym and train as often as he can. Keep that strength in the upper body, mainly mentally, keep him in the best shape he possibly can.”
To donate to Chucky and Carina, go here.
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