Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A few emotional moments and reminders.

It has been an interesting, busy and emotional week or so.
My support group is going really well and I am enjoying the opportunity to host and share ideas of health and motivation.

In the past week a mate of mine from my school days, his brother Damian ‘Dards’ Williams a fellow Stage 4 Melanoma Patient, passed away. He was only 32 Years of age and battled this disease for the past 14 months, after 10 years ago having a primary removed. A lovely guy married for 12 months or so.

I met him for coffee a few times and discussed his treatment and health. He and I were on the same drug and things looked good for him many times during this period of 14 months. However, eventually it went pear shaped and the dabrafenib didn’t work anymore for him.

I was very saddened to hear he passed. Many reasons, young married guy, and a connection we had with school and Melanoma, same treatment. His passing has hit home with me…..Is this going to happen to me? Will dabrafenib not work one day? I do have Plan ‘B’ there if its needed. This is reassuring!

I did attend the funeral which was an amazing service! Aidy, his brother spoke very well about Damian. My dad came with me as support and I am grateful for this. I was fine, not emotional or thinking negative at all….I did have times of self talk and thinking ‘I am not going yet, I am here for a long time, not a short time’.

Times like this again recalibrate your life and make you appreciate and have gratitude for what is around and what I have. I am thankful for my family, Lisa, the girls and my ability to do the things I love.

Another emotional time was the news that a parent at school who has cancer received some bad news…. Her cancer has spread. I am close to this family and have taught one of their children. I am sending all positive thoughts to her and want her to know she has a lot to live for and I think the world of her as does her family and community. Stay strong and do everything possible to heal and fight. We need you here.

All of these mentioned times have made me more motivated to fight and keep positive. Life sends us challenges and we need to tackle them as best we can. Some challenges we don’t need, but this is where the fighting spirit rises to the top and gets us face to face with what is important.

I was talking with my mum and dad the other day (my parents are amazing people and great support for my wife, girls and I) they mentioned that people they bump into many people who ask and seem to think that I am cured….because I am working, training and look great….I wish this was true…I am not cured and yes I do feel great and am at a fitness that I am happy with…my health is as good as it will be until I am cured or in remission.

It is hard to explain how I feel about what people think. I feel at times people must think I am fraud or putting it all on…..this is not the case. I have been dealt this hand in life and dealing with it my way….head strong and with determination to win.

I am training well, riding a lot and hitting some solid rides with Matty Collins my mate. Running is continuing along with hitting the gym more frequently….just to get the arms and chest back.  Lisa and the girls are well, clearly we are all looking forward to the end of the school year and another Christmas. I have bloods in two weeks and will keep you posted.

I have a question for you all and a challenge…..What are you most grateful for in life? When you are out and about take some time to stop and appreciate what is around you or those around you. Do something kind for a work colleague…..a small token of appreciation….a coffee pod, chocolate, flower, note something little. That is your challenge.

In our busy lives we forget to stop and breathe the air and smell the roses.

Try hard to not sweat the small things.

Remember to hug your loved one's. Love to all. x

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Reminder....

A Reminder....

It’s been a while since the last post. I am sure you will all agree that Lisa’s post was sensational and very heart felt. Sunsmart Australia actually added it to their website and monthly newsletter. Thanks for the post my beautiful wife.

When I read it, I didn’t realize how bad I was or how disjointed from the world I was physically and emotionally. It made me again realize how important life is and why we all shouldn’t take things for granted and love the one’s close to you…especially your family.

It was also Lisa's Birthday in October and last year I missed it (with reason) and I was definitely going to make it up to her this year. It was a great day had at home with family and friends. The girls made a cake for Lisa with her help. They used special drawing pens to decorate it. Thanks to all those who helped. 

Love this photo

Cake Decorated by the Girls
Lisa and her school friends
Lisa and her cousin Louise
A lot has happened since the last post. I decided to start a Melanoma Support Group here in Melbourne. Melanoma Australia and in particular Jay Allen from Melanoma Australia gave me all the guidance and encouragement to start this group. My work place Carey Grammar was kind enough to allow the group to meet every second Wednesday of the month at school. This was a huge relief as trying to hire and organize a place unfamiliar to me would have been a challenge.

Our first meeting was well attended. Lisa came along, as did my parents and Jay flew down from Sydney. Scott De Young a fellow Melanoma patient was away with his family and unfortunately couldn’t attend, however it was great to meet his parents and hopefully we meet Scott and his wife at our next meeting. We also had four other Melanoma Warriors there. It was great to meet others and spend time sharing stories and learning about what has worked for each person. Support is minimal in Melbourne for Melanoma, hence me starting this group.

I have also completed another presentation on my journey to a gym in Balwyn (Inspired Fitness). Once again I loved sharing my story and found it beneficial to share what has happened to me and my family…..I did get emotional at times. There is a post interview of the night here:

The girls and Lisa are well……the girls are growing up fast……I cannot believe Ariella’s first year of school is almost over. Lisa is, as always-busy being a mum and businesswomen…. And somehow finds time to train. She ran an amazing half marathon last month in 1hr49min. I’m very proud of her achievement. I was very happy to run the 10km at the same event with a mate Matty Jones (no relation). I finished and ran 43min37sec. Nowhere near my PB of 38min. But happy to be competing!
It was also great to see my younger brother Reardon there to watch me finish.

Matty and I. 

Lisa and I
My gorgeous and amazing Wife..
I am training hard… still riding a number of times a week and had a few solid hit outs with friends in the past month…roughly riding about 135km a week, feeling strong and fit. Running is being maintained. I am hoping to race a Crit. race (cycle race) this weekend. Keep you posted. Lisa has entered the City2Sea run in Melbourne. I’m sure she’ll run well!

Work is extremely busy. But fun! We have reports to write….class lists for 2014 to sort…..end of year concerts, assemblies. Only 7 weeks till the end! I cannot believe I have worked a full year with my illness there in the background.

As for my cancer… well I was reminded that I still have cancer this week. I felt very ordinary in the head all week and wasn’t due for scans until Monday….however my head was sore and annoying me. I felt like there was a brain tumour present. I decided to call my oncologist and organize my scans to be moved to this week…he was on holidays, so I spoke with his Locum and she advised me to have scans moved to as early as possible.

My head was aching and I felt strange….I rescheduled and was just mentally preparing for the worst… the morning of the scans, I left for work preparing my mind that I’d be in hospital that afternoon….as I do each morning I hugged and kissed the girls and Lisa, holding back my tears.

The anxiety and nerves are very hard to explain….I worked the morning and headed off around lunchtime to Epworth for the scans…my head was feeling very ordinary and my mindset was not great. This mindset disappointed me. I am extremely positive about this illness and think of good thoughts as much as I can.

The arrangement with the Locum and I was for her to call or text me when she had the results. I went home after the scans and was distracted by Ariella’s School Art Show…a great Art Show. This was a great distraction.

After a morning ride the next day, I went to work as normal.  The phone call I was waiting for came after lunch….Good News…..nothing on the brain and the last tumour in the lymph nodes of my chest has shrunk. Not sure by how much…I will get formal report results Wednesday.

RELIEF for all of us!! I still have a funny head….and will investigate this next week. I think it scar tissue flaring up and causing pain.

This episode has made me feel more aware of this melanoma beast that beckons from within …… I felt like this was a reminder of; ‘The journey is not over and this beast is around… As I say, it has picked the wrong person to hang around’.

I will keep you posted on formal results next blog.

I hope everyone’s well. Enjoy Cup Weekend. 

Finish with a photo of my Team's Success in the AFL Premiership.

Remember to hug your loved one's. Love to all. x