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Josh Kelly was growing tired of doctors suggesting that an itchy, inflamed rash on his legs might be caused by a common bacterial or sexually transmitted infection

por Marietta McDonell (2020-11-01)


Josh Kelly was growing tired of doctors suggesting that an itchy, inflamed rash on his legs might be caused by a common bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.

He had every right to be.

The happily married saxophone player had been with wife Maggie for 10 years and felt stereotyped as an up-and-coming musician on the Melbourne jazz scene.

But after two years of shoulder-shrugging from a string of specialists, he convinced himself that the spotted, eczema-like irritation which first flared in the shower one evening in June 2018 must be caused by the stress of his cut and thrust lifestyle.

It was a fair assumption by the 28-year-old who had recently welcomed his first child, a son named Remy, with Maggie, 32, all while running their boutique gift shop on Thornbury High Street.

So when Josh was diagnosed with stage two blood cancer on August 19 this year after a scan revealed two large tumours in his chest, he felt 'angry and disappointed'.

He told Daily Mail Australia it's 'really disheartening' to reflect on the time that's been wasted without any treatment.

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Josh and Maggie Kelly with 18-month-old son Remy at Think Thornbury, their boutique gift shop 10 kilometres north of Melbourne CBD

Josh said he underwent countless STI screenings, including one for HIV, as well as being tested for Lyme disease which doctors believed he could have contracted in budget accommodation while touring in Europe.

'I said to them, "you realise I'm married and have a child?" - we were tested for all of that during Maggie's pregnancy,' he said.

'It felt like a sweeping generalisation about young people being really promiscuous.

Neither of us have been with anyone else in 10 years.'

Doctors' fixation on STIs resulted from Josh's unusual readings of CRP, a protein made by the liver in response to inflammation in the body.

CRP tests help to diagnose myriad inflammatory diseases from autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to reproductive infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

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Typical readings for healthy patients fall between one and three milligrams of CRP per litre of blood, while levels between three and 10 milligrams suggest the presence of illnesses like diabetes or hypertension.

At one test Josh returned a reading of 160, but consistently passed STI screenings with a clean bill of health - leading doctors and dermatologists to shift their focus to the possibility of a staph infection, a relatively harmless bacterial skin condition.

And despite the development of additional Hodgkin's lymphoma warning signs like fatigue and night sweats in early 2019, it was a common staph infection that he was repeatedly prescribed antibiotics and anti-septic body washes for.

Josh (pictured with a newborn Remy) urges young men to take note of changes in their body 'no matter how insignificant Symptoms of cancer may seem'

It wasn't until he saw a naturopath at the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March - almost two years after his first symptom - that anything more sinister was suggested.

The naturopath referred Josh to an immunologist who studied his records and sent him for a CT scan which finally revealed the cause of his complaints: two tumours deep in his lung cavity, one more than 7cm long.

Maggie said she finds it difficult to comprehend that her husband has been sick with cancer 'this whole time' despite innumerable dismissals by medical professionals.

Now the couple are bracing for six months of gruelling BEACOPP chemotherapy, a potent cocktail of drugs that offers the best chance of destroying Josh's cancer. 

Josh (pictured with Maggie) said it is 'really disheartening' to reflect on the time that's been wasted without any treatment

The talented musician now faces an uncertain future as he undergoes six months of gruelling chemotherapy, which can cause serious side effects that damage the lungs and heart