Sunday, July 28, 2013


Blog update.

All is going really well. I am fighting fit and still overwhelmed by my last results. Fitness is on improving, cycling heaps and hoping to run again this week.

One of my good friends Jason Ryding is running a number of marathons this year and I watched one of them over the weekend. He and the event have motivated me even more to get back to the running and hitting that level of fitness again. He raced well 2hr59min and placed 3rd out of 80 runners. IMPRESSIVE!
Jason Ryding. Marathon 2hr59min Good mate. 


I presented another ‘My Journey’, presentation to a mate’s footy club (Brenton Kinnear) St. Mary’s FC. It went well. He was pleased and I once again enjoyed the opportunity to tell my story.

I also did an educational Presentation to my daughter’s school staff, on using the iPad in Education. This also was enjoyable and well received. The staff has even invited me back to workshop with them later this year. It was so good to be presenting in this forum about my Passion for E-Learning and Apple technology. It’s during these times whilst presenting I totally forgot I have Cancer. The next month is going to be all about conference presentations, therefore very good distractions.

Finally, the decking area and screens that had been kindly donated and built over the Christmas period are almost complete. There are only a handful of items to complete in this space. Thanks to Adam Grills for following this up and getting things moving again. Images below:

I also went to a Naturopath to see what else I could be doing to improve my quality of life and health. This was a very good experience and I am now taking number of plant based, pre-digested foods to improve my immune and general quality of life. Juicing carrots is a regular thing Lisa and I do. (Thanks to Jay Allen for this tip). Now I am mixing drinks other nutritional drinks, such as Green Baley, Paw Paw, Citramin and Rev Plus. All of which are aimed at improving my recovery and hydration.

My naturopath also did a pin prick blood analyses and showed me what my blood looked like under a microscope and then showed me an image of what my blood should look like.

The aim is now to reach the healthy looking blood (see images) I have been on this routine diet for a week and I feel so much better.
Images of how blood cells should look after taking Citramin. 
Another huge highlight since the last blog was my 20 Year High school Reunion at my old school Parade College. It was great to see so many people I haven’t seen for along time. Many boys have changed and many have aged, many have skipped exercising and enjoyed life. 
Fellow Class mates from school reunion. 
Hawks are flying also which pleases me. 

Someone asked me recently is it hard to write such a personal blog and why do you write a blog?

My answer is was this; yes it is hard to express my feelings on life and get personal, but I manage and really enjoy writing. The reason for the blog is to keep people posted about my progress and inform those who are not in contact with us a lot, of how things are going.

The other reason is; I see this blog as my Journey and a way of letting my family remember me if something does happen to me.

I want my girls and Lisa to go back through the words/images and remember me for the person I was. I see this blog as a time capsule. The words and honesty is who I am.

The other reason is I know and hope other cancer or melanoma suffers read this blog and take something from it. Whether it is education or comfort and motivation.

Also some people I see everyday read this blog and feel more comfortable reading this than asking me how I am traveling. If this makes sense!

Below is short movie I have made of the girls and what we do most Saturday’s. Some people might find this movie a little morbid and created in a way that makes me look like I am giving up or things or that things are bad.

I have made it for my girls to see and remember what their dad did with them. People must remember I am keeping things for the future for people to remember me. This is a way of letting my girls know what we did and how much I love them.
My Girls from on Vimeo.

I haven’t made this movie for the end of everything. I am probably in the best condition and health I have been in for over 12months.  Here for a long time.

Love to all and remember hugs the one’s you love. X

Friday, July 19, 2013

SCAN RESULTS 8 Months on......

Back to work after a very restful two-week break. It was great to see my students and get back into the swing of teaching again.

This week was also the week of my bloods/scan results for those who read my previous blog entry, will be aware that I was concerned about these scans as I had had a few niggles and felt tired and a few nights of night sweats….. scans occurred on the Friday. My appointment with the oncologist was the following week on the Wednesday. I went the whole weekend and the Monday, Tuesday checking my phone constantly thinking surely I am going to get a phone call……but no phone call. In my eyes this was surely a good thing.

My mind was conveniently distracted over this weekend, as it was finally Kalita’s 4th Birthday. Something she had been waiting to happen for, in her eyes and words, ‘I've been waiting for 120 years!’

It was a small gathering at our place, which was a ‘Barbie’ themed party. She was so excited and loved her Barbie dress present. Lisa decided to decorate the cake in the same style as the birthday girl’s Barbie dress. As you could imagine Lisa did an amazing job. Photos below:

We had a jumping castle and the weather was magic for the middle of winter. Having friends and family here really made me enjoy life and appreciate how lucky we are to have such amazing people involved in our lives and the girls up bringing. This really comforts me, given the unpredictable nature of Melanoma and Cancer. Kalita was very much spoilt and had such a wonderful day.

Anyway, Wednesday finally came and the appointment was late in the day. Still no phone call…... Walked into the oncologist room and he said the news we WANTED to hear…. ‘scans, all good’. No new tumours, the one in the bowel we can’t see (so we are taking this as it’s gone). Lisa jokes that I have farted it out. The one tumour that is present is located in the lymph nodes that are in line with the heart behind my lungs. It hasn’t changed in size, 1.9cm x 4.5cm, and as you can tell it isn’t small! The oncologist is not concerned about it. He said my hemoglobin went from 115L to 122L. This can only happen if I am healthy and my body is fit. Pays to be active throughout the illness and keep fit.

In short the best results we have had for a long time. I feel great and he is not concerned about the groin lump and said keep going as I have been. I am now looking forward to running a little more. The cycling will increase also and I am feeling my fitness has improved and I am stronger.  My weight is the same no loss, legs have bulked up a little, as expected with the riding.

I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here; after the trauma I have been through… let alone working full time and keeping fit and riding.

Whilst at the appointment the girls were at Lisa’s parents house for dinner, so Lisa and I took the opportunity to grab a meal without children to celebrate the good results! We went to a pub called the Union Hotel, off Smith St Fitzroy that is about 300m from where Lisa used to live and it is the area where our romance began. It was great to spend time together.

I also had a great night Thursday spending time with good mates at Jason Ryding’s house. The usual boyish behavior and banter occurred. Good fun and great to be hanging out with my mates, Matty Jones (no relation), Adam Grills, Jason Ryding and Adrian Parke….long time friends and friends that have been great support for Lisa, the girls and I.

What’s coming up?
-       Get back to running.
-       Back driving in the next month.
-       I have lots of Educational Presentations to do in August and later this term.
-       Increase the kilometers on the bike.
-       A heap of School stuff is happening also.
-       Watch the hawks win a few more games leading up to the Grand Final.
-       Spend time with the family.
-       I have my 20 year School reunion is next week. I didn’t go the 10-year reunion. Looking forward to this event.
-       And most importantly maintain a positive out look and keep the health good. This hopefully reflects in next lot of scans in 8 weeks time.

Life is precious and we at times take things for granted and one thing I used to take for granted was my health…..I am now more appreciative of being healthy and fit. Illness hasn’t stopped me from doing things… may have slowed me down, but hasn’t stopped me. My oncologist believes getting good results and improving one’s health when you have any cancer is: 50% oncology medicine and 50% the mind set of the individual…..hence his thoughts on why I am doing well.

Like anything in life, if you put your mind on the right path…..anything can be achieved.

I am here for a long time. Seeing my girls graduate from all educational levels and to be here to see them marry and have children is the ultimate goal…and growing old with the one I love….LISA. 

In my last blog I added an image of one of my heroes who visited me in hospital and I thought I'd share a clip of what he achieved in raising money for Breast Cancer. Inspiring, caring and motivated person. I love his line at the 24 second mark of this clip, 'this ride isn't about me riding my bike its about connecting with people who are doing it tough. Battling for their lives, whether it's breast cancer or any type of cancer. Its about showing people we care and we are here for them.'  
The lyrics to the backing track are amazing! Song: 'HIGH HOPES, KODALINE'.


Friday, July 12, 2013


A blog update with the lot! I am going to write about the many things that have happened over my two-week break from teaching. Mid winter holiday break. Lisa and I made a focus of making the most of these holidays; we had no intentions of heading away. Just spending time with our beautiful girls and doing many different activities as possible with them. As most of you will know I have three gorgeous girls less than 6 years of age.

I am feeling like I am about to write a recount piece of writing that most teachers get their students to do……not me though.
On the HOLIDAYS……..

The holidays began with a Wiggles concert at the Comedy Theatre. This was the new version of the Wiggles. It was interesting to see new members fronting the group. It was good the girls loved it especially Zahlia our youngest. (Images below).
The next girlie activity was three days later, headed to Disney on Ice. Parking was a challenge, but my dad was to the rescue. Allowing us to park at Parliament House, (he works there) it was a short walk to the concert.  We decided not to take Zahlia as she was too young and would be restless for the 2.5hour show. Once again the girls had a fun as I did too. I was amazed at the strength of the men lifting the princesses above their heads.
Disney on Ice
Ariella and Kalita at Disney on Ice.
The next day trip was to the Werribee Open Range Zoo. The drive was not too long and the in car DVD player kept the girls quiet. Allowing Lisa and I time to chat, which is usually a challenge with girls under 6 hanging around and wanting our attention. Wouldn’t change this aspect of our lives though. We got to the zoo within an hour after it opened and the line to get in was looong. We stayed in line for about an hour and half. We met our friend Melissa here, who has been a great support for us during the hellish journey. Our girls were very exciting to see her girls and this made the day even more enjoyable for all.

The girls had a fun walking around exploring the zoo and travelling on the Safari Bus to the Open Park area, Zahlia especially. She named every animal she saw. It’s moments like these that I lock into my memory bank and hold onto for along as possible and hope the girls do too for every moment I spend with them.

This is my big fear about my illness, is whether my girls will remember me? If I happen to pass away…..I just want them to remember me….I don’t care if they remember me as the dad that farts, burps or does other disgusting things or the dad that can’t fix things or the dad that tickles them all the time chasing them around the house or just the dad that reads stories to them…..I just want them to remember me and I want them to know my love for with never die and I will always be there with them…….We hope this never happens!

The girls have had a few play days at parks and spent time at friends houses and vice versa.

I also took the two older girls to the movies; ‘Despicable Me 2’. Kalita loved it! Ariella thought it was good. As for me, I loved it. But I am a big kid. Lisa went shopping and took Zahlia.

The next big thing on the holidays to happen is Kalita’s 4th Birthday…..Tomorrow, 13th July she is the last one of the girls to celebrate their birthday, hard for her to comprehend this and be patient. But it is finally here a Barbie party!! Not a BBQ party a Doll Barbie Party…..I cannot escape the girlie themes. But again wouldn’t change anything! Keep you posted with how it went. Lisa has obviously out done herself again. Pictures in the next post.


Since being diagnosed with Stage 4C Melanoma I have been telling my story or sharing my experience to various groups…..I was on these holidays lucky enough to present to two different groups. I am used to presenting and being in front of an audience…..but this is different to presenting about E-Learning and education.

My first presentation was to my former local football club Templestowe, I played 147 games over 9 years; as a Senior Player and was asked to talk to the Senior playing group before their game against Doncaster. It was an honour to be asked to talk to the boys. I presented my story and put some messages into the story about determination, resilience and bouncing back from terrible situations. I think it went well and the boys got something from it. The coach was appreciative of my time and what I had organised. Unfortunately the boys didn’t win. Which places them in a tough situation heading to finals.

The other fortunate presentation I did was to a more high profile football club. The Melbourne Football Club, in the AFL. This was organised by my good friend, Andrew Nichol who works as their development coach and advisor. This was an honour. Melbourne is currently struggling sitting second last on the ladder with 2 wins for the season. The aim of the presentation was to talk to the playing group about my story and building resilience in tough times. Presenting a completing different presentation to this group as I compared to what I did to Templestowe.

I was very nervous. But took it on as a challenge and experience. The players took a lot from it and the responses were amazing. My friend walked me out afterwards and said that was; ‘A’ Grade and I hit exactly what they needed to hear. I did tell them that they are playing a ‘game of footy’ and they get to press the reset button each week…..I am playing a ‘Game of Life’ and cannot press that reset button anymore, I just need to wake up each day and make the most of my opportunities as you all in this room need to do. I spoke about my teammates being the people who have supported us; their teammates are those in the room and the ones they run out with each week.
Presenting to the Senior Players at Melbourne FC at AAMI Park
Presenting to the Senior Players at Melbourne FC at AAMI Park
Presenting to the Senior Players at Melbourne FC at AAMI Park
Andrew then organised for me to spend game day that week in the rooms before the game and sit with him and some of the developing players for the game. This is something I have never experienced. The boys came up to me and spoke freely about what I presented. It was a great day…..unfortunately they lost the game to last years premiership winners, but only lost by 35points, which they were very happy with as a result.


Lisa organised a birthday gathering at home for me, with friends and family. I am not a birthday person. But it was a great night and thanks Lisa for her hard work and those who came. It was a time to reflect on how far I had come since October 2012 where it looked like I wouldn’t see Christmas or even function like I did before and made me a little emotional thinking about whether there would be more birthdays to celebrate.

My good mate Geoff Little. 

Hawks Colours Lisa's Creation. 

My inspiration. 

The Hawks played on this night against Geelong and I was hoping for a hoodoo to be broken, we haven’t beaten them since 2008 GF. But it was not to be. The hawks lost by 10 points. We are still on top of the ladder 12 wins and 2 losses. They owe me a Grand Final win this year…. I joke that they caused my brain tumours!

One of the presents I received on my birthday was from my uncle, which was a framed 23 Jumper, signed by my two heroes Dermie and Buddy. Image below:


To finish the holidays, I had scans on today, 12th July…. As always I had Scanxiety…. I am feeling good and have been riding a lot about 140km a week. The first day of the holidays I had a great ride with my good friend Geoff Little who took some outstanding images of our ride to the top of Mt. Dandenong…..a 70km ride for the day.

I hadn’t ridden this ride since September 2012. It wasn’t a cracking pace, just good fun……Anyway back to my scans as I mentioned in the last post that had been having night sweats and I was really tired. The night sweats have stopped and I am not as tired. Heading to the Epworth for scans it was still a nervous time.

My younger brother Reardon, came to sit with me during the waiting time. As most Melanoma fighters will know any little niggle or lump you feel the weeks leading up to scans…..this results in one becoming paranoid….I have felt a lump in my groin area and this does have me concerned. I am keeping positive and saying to myself, ‘its out of my control.’ I keep telling myself that I am not loosing weight and look healthy, as well I am not in any pain…..therefore my results should be good. The waiting game begins as I am not scheduled to see the oncologist till Wednesday, being back at work should distract my mind and keep me in good spirits, as I can be rather snappy/moody during scan and results week.

Hopefully the Dabrafenib Medication is still working. It is hard to tell what is happening inside your body. Even when I get a ‘stitch like’ pain, I think the worst. The good news is if the current medication is no longer working then the next drug looks like being added to the PBS by August. It will go from $120000 for 4 doses to about $30 for 4 doses. This is a huge win for me and other stage 4 patients.

I am going to wait for results from these scans to determine my plan of action for my running training and entering the September 120km ride in Lorne.

I do see what has happened to me as a ‘gift’ I know this sounds weird…..’a gift’ that has been given to me and it is up to me to work out what to do with it….. I can sit and wait for it to unwrap and take control of my life or to use this terrible ‘gift’ as my time to recalibrate my life…..enjoy my family, help those who are suffering from this hideous disease, tell my story and hopefully inspire. I met Damien Williams a fellow Melanoma Fighter over these holidays and he is in a similar situation to me, however, a few more tumors than me….not that it is a competition! He said to me that my blog had motivated him and gave him some spark to get on with moving forward and not sitting back waiting. This makes me feel like I am using this ‘Cancer Gift’ as way of inspiring or motivating others to get a health checks or rethink their life choices or just love more and not sweat the small things….I therefore feel I have turned this terrible, negative Gift into a Positive one……then I have achieved something in life.

Recently one of my sporting heroes, Shane Crawford (Former Hawks AFL player), rode from Melbourne to Perth 3660km to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer. He mentioned in one of his interviews he wasn’t just riding for Breast Cancer, but to make everyone aware about all cancers.
 My reason for mentioning him is that when he came to see me in Hospital in October, I found him so motivating, inspiring and caring. He took so much interest in what had happened to me and asked Lisa how she was coping. What he did over 21 days of riding was amazing and makes me want to fight and achieve more in my life.

I will post again next week with my results and photos of Kalita’s birthday.

Love to all and remember to hug those close to you. X

The link to this song something I have enjoyed listening too lately….the words are very powerful words: