Darling Downs man’s journey to hell and back
AT JUST 21 years of age, Julius Peters has been through more than most people will go through in a lifetime.
Born and bred in Yangan, Mr Peters said he moved to the big smoke (Warwick) when he was 14.
"After high school I went to Belgium and Germany for a few months. The beer was amazing. I'm so glad I got to experience that before I got sick," he said.
Back on home soil, Mr Peters got a job working in the mines outside Chinchilla.
"I was earning really good money and loving life when I took a trip to Melbourne at Easter in 2014 to meet up with my family, who had all gone down there to see my sister," he said.
"After the flight, I felt really crook and vomited but didn't think too much of it.
"My sister's flatmate was an optometrist and had a look at my eyes, just because he could. "He immediately diagnosed a papilledema, which is a swelling of the eyes caused by unnecessary cranial pressure.
"After a second opinion, the diagnosis was confirmed and I was referred immediately to the ear and eye emergency department at St Vincent's Hospital."
An emergency CAT scan revealed a large brain tumour and Mr Peters said he was blown away when a doctor told him of their discovery.
"I laughed," he said.
"From there they rushed me to hospital and drilled a hole in my head to release pressure, with surgery to be scheduled within the week.
"Somehow I'd gone from a normal teenager hitting the pubs and chasing girls to having my head cut open, all within a few days."
At this point, Mr Peters said, the doctors still weren't sure if the tumour was malignant or benign and wanted to take a biopsy.
"I told them if they were going to go digging around in there just to take the whole thing out," he said.
"The operation took eight to 10 hours and I remember waking up afterwards and I could barely speak, slurring terribly like a bad drunk.
"The tumour was on the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls speech, co-ordination and balance and when they removed the tumour they had to remove surrounding tissue as well.
"After the initial recovery I did a month of rehab in Melbourne and then flew to Brisbane for more rehab.
"Eventually I came back home and tried to get used to the fact I had a brain injury."
Before falling sick Mr Peters was a keen cyclist and during his recovery looked into seeing if he could qualify to be a paracyclist.
"I was assessed to be in C4 class so I got training and had some success, winning seven medals at the Paracycling Nationals in Adelaide in early 2015," he said.
"But cycling competitively is on the back-burner for now.
"Last year I moved to the Sunshine Coast and lived with my sister, because who wants to live with their parents at 20 years of age?
"I got a job as a delivery driver for a hardware store but then I got sick and ended up in hospital again, this time with ulcerative colitis in the large colon.
"The doctors tried everything, the last resort being removal of the colon and in the end we had no choice and I had an emergency ileoscopy and the colon was removed, leaving me with a colostomy bag."
After this second major setback, Mr Peters said he moved back home again.
"It's so much easier to recover when you're surrounded by people that care for you," he said.
"So I settled back into life, getting used to the bag and started looking for work in Warwick.
"A cycling friend, Laura Brazier mentioned there was a delivery job going at Warwick Friendly Society Pharmacies, so I went in for an interview and got the job.
"I'm really grateful to Laura and the Friendlies team for giving me the opportunity to feel normal again.
"I really love the job and it feels so good just to be given a go."