Tuesday, December 9, 2014

IN THE CLEAR

Starting this blog with this:

Now
For the very first time
Don't you pay no mind?
Set me free again
You keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside a whisper to a riot
To sacrifice but knowing to survive
The first decline another state of mind
I'm on my knees, I'm praying for a sign
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I'm on my knees
I never wanna die
I'm dancing on my grave
I'm running through the fire
Forever, whatever
I never wanna die
I never wanna leave
I'll never say goodbye
Forever, whatever
Forever, whatever

These are lyrics to a ‘Foo Fighters’ song, ‘Walk’. This particular part of this song really makes me think about how much I want to live and how I learned to walk, talk and function again after all that has happened in the past two years.

I am far from a musical knowledgeable person or profess to know about music…… however, when something is repeated three times over and over again it symbolises an enforced message. Repetition is the basis for many poetic/lyrical forms. The use of repetition can heighten the emotional impact of a piece. As you can see above:
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die

I am a massive fan of this band and pretty much all their songs have a connection to my cancer journey in some way.

The reason for telling you this is because….my most recent scan was last Friday….I wasn’t feeling the best during this week.... I had about a week of headaches, I do have scanaxiety when scans come around so I was hoping it was this stress and the stress/pressure of finishing off the school year and organising the Year 6 Graduation with my close friend/colleague Bruce Oakley….. hoping this was all adding to my headaches.

Fun at work with Graduation Props:
Whilst waiting for my scan, I always listen to music to ease my mind and take my thoughts away from all that relates to cancer…..when I was called in for my scan, I forgot to pause or stop my phone playlist……when I finished and collected my phone the song that was on the screen was the Foo Fighters song ‘In The Clear’



Coincidence or not……my results came back clear, no evidence of disease…..NED……still in remission for the past three months.
My nerves and anxiety disappeared and my focus turned to finishing the school year.

The excitement of being in remission and not having any tumours present in my body…..makes me feel amazing, but at the same time I feel guilty that I am ‘In the Clear’ of tumours and Melanoma…..when mates of mine are still fighting off the beast of Cancer……It is hard to share my news with them as I feel bad that they are still fighting and I’m feeling so good. Is this wrong to feel like this????

Much has happened since my last blog post…….Lisa and the girls have been busy with dance rehearsals and concerts. The photos below will show how beautiful the girls looked and I can say as a very 'unbiased' father the girls looked amazing on the stage…….moments to lock away in my memory bank and be thankful to see and enjoy.
Family affair, cousin who did dancing with the girls



The girls at the Dance Concerts
My only sister and younger brother (Olivia and Reardon) both had their birthdays. Time to gather as a family and enjoy each other’s company. I am thankful to have them in my life, great support and very caring.
My younger Brother and Sister 
About two weekends ago I competed in a team Half Ironman (IM) race…..My good friend Matthew Collins had entered as an individual for the half IM, however after much procrastinating he decided to change his entry to a team entry….John Sidebottom did the 1.9km swim, I competed in the 90km bike leg and Matty brought the team home on the 21km run.
Matty (such a great support and good mate) and I watching the swim leg

Transition
Heading out on the ride.
Matty on a very hot run leg
It was the best feeling to be amongst the Triathlon scene again….even if it was only a 90km bike leg…..my ride was solid and at the same time very much an achievement for me.
John swam very well and placed us well for my bike leg which was slightly hilly, but at the same time a fast course. I averaged 34km/h and completed it in 2hours39min. Goal achieved… aiming to stay under 2hours50min and above 32km/h average. Matty had the worst time of the day to run…..he ran well however, the heat did mess with his body.

This race was a part of my training for the ‘Tour De Cure’ (TDC), April 2015……. Please feel free to donate to this link for the TDC: TDC DONATION PAGE.

Also I want to take time here to mention the fundraising event happening on Feb 21st for my TDC ride. Thanks so much to the Green family for passionately organising this event, especially Sandra who has her own personal battle to fight, but finds the energy to organise this event.

I was riding and training was on very hard…..until….BANG! Yes I stacked one ride home last week. Hitting tram tracks and landing heavily off the bike! Right arm and leg, badly grazed…..my bike was also damaged, snapped rear gearing…..this has put me off the bike for at least a week so far. I was going so well training too, clocking an average of around 260km a week….this is not the end of the world….I’ll bounce back and ‘hit’ the road again soon…..not literally!

After the crash
Slowing healing


Damaged bike

It is important that things don’t hold us back and we tackle all that comes our way.

Kalita our middle child has attended her Prep Orientation days for 2015…….. and Zahlia had her 3YO Kinder Orientation mornings also……they are both ready for the next phase in their growth…..as for Lisa and I, we are probably not ready for all our girls to grow up so quickly….but I am very much looking forward to seeing them off to school and kinder…..to be here and well for these moments in their lives are priceless and something I cannot and will not miss….just to be here for these days and moments are steps to moving forward and enjoying life.

Christmas and New Year are times for all of us to recharge, forgive, connect and change what needs changing in our lives. I love Christmas and yes the big kid in me comes out...... I have gone all out with Christmas lights on the house and garden this year. I LOVE it…….we even had a very kind note placed in our letterbox saying ‘Thanks for brightening up our Christmas with your lights’. Very kind and unexpected note from a neighbour!

Lisa is well and I think she is looking forward to having me home for the summer holidays after a very busy year. I am very much looking forward to spending time with the family, training and keeping healthy.

Life is great and I am feeling amazing and very grateful for all that has happened to us in the past two years.....I know this sounds weird to be grateful.....but I am...Cancer has changed my outlook on life and all that is around me.....it has re-calibrated what is important.

Enjoy your Christmas and New Year everyone….take time to spread the cheer and love.

REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S. 





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TWO YEARS ON.....

Two years on since being diagnosed Stage 4 Melanoma…….Where do I start? It has been a busy month and a bit. A family holiday to Palm Cove was relaxing for the girls, Lisa and I. Such a pleasant time to withdraw and enjoy the precious time with the family and enjoy it as a reward for my previous good news from the last successful scan (No Evidence of Disease) and surviving two more years since our lives had been turned up side down.

We loved the beach and beautiful weather in Palm Cove. As I like to do, below is a short movie of our time away. (Time Capsule Moment) 

              
              Palm Cove Holiday from Junior School on Vimeo.

Upon returning back to Melbourne…..My excitement and nerves stepped up again…..this wasn’t because of scans or oncology appointments. It was AFL Grand final week and the MIGHTY HAWKS my Team had made it again.

Three years in a row playing in a the AFL Grand final one win and one loss in this time……this year was going for back to back flags was my hope…..My nerves and lack of confidence  in winning this year was because the Hawks were playing the in form team of the competition, the Swans.

I love GF week and sit back and soak up all that it offers. I liken it to Christmas week for footy fans!!!

This year I decided I’d take the girls to see the Hawks train at Waverly Park, and enjoy the moments I enjoy and share the excitement, however, Ariella was the only one who wanted to come along. my brother-in-law Andrew also a Hawks fan came with us.
Andrew and Ariella. 



Thanks to a mate of mine from my old footy club Templestowe FC, I was able to secure two tickets to a corporate box. 


Something I am externally grateful for, however I did have a decision to make….who was coming along. I feel bad for not asking Lisa first to come with me; nevertheless my dad who has also been an amazing support to all of us was the person I decided to take with me. He is a Swan’s supporter and this would make it a wonderful time for both of us.






Dad enjoyed the afternoon, even though the Swans played the worst game of footy that season…..The Hawks were amazing and smashed the Swans by 63 points. BACK TO BACK Flags……the win in 2013 was unbelievable and again this year was a lot more special. What an amazing two months….. clear  scans, holiday and Hawks win! Yes you can say I am very happy.

We also had Lisa’s Birthday in since my last blog entry…….we enjoyed family time again and for those who remember from my earlier blogs….2years ago I was in hospital on her birthday and totally forgot about it…..with reason.




The girls and I pampered her, given my lack of skill at baking…….Lisa decided to bake a cake with the girls and have them decorate it……wish I was home and not working to see them working together on this master piece.

Lisa, I hope you had a wonderful day and enjoyed your cake and being the loved and the centre of attention for the day. You are my world and without you…..I am not sure I’d be here. Moments again I am glad I have been here to see and enjoy.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Another amazing feat that occurred this month was from a fellow Melanoma warrior from the MIA support group, Elise Beaton who is a stage 4 survivor and like me in remission. As away of celebrating her clear scans she decided to compete in the Melbourne Marathon…….YES 42km run…….an effort that would be hard for anyone, let alone someone who has stage 4 cancer.

Elise also created a fund raising page for the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA). Funds go to melanoma research. Elise and her generous friends raised $17,500. An amazing effort in fund raising and even more amazing in completing the 42km run in 4hrs.

Elise is a young mother of two who has proven to many that anything can be achieved with guts, determination and positivity. I am so proud to know Elise and call her a friend. This link will give you an insight to this amazing person.



Along with Elise competing and taking things to the next level was Kim De Young who lost her partner Scott to Melanoma earlier this year. Kim ran and completed the half marathon in memory of Scott. Kim is an inspirational lady who has been through a lot this year and another person who has fought adversity to achieve something extraordinary.  I am extremely proud of these two ladies.

Kim and Scott De Young.

My personal journey continues, I am travelling really well…..the return to work from holidays has been smooth and at the same time busy. Both my recent blood results have been clear and very good.  My next lot of CT scans are in December…..I think these will be clear, however, probably my most anxious of all……they’ll be first one’s since clear scans in September.

I am training hard and riding around 200km a week. My mate Matthew Collins is keeping up I am in the gym work when I can. Matty and I are doing a team Half Ironman event at the end of November, another friend of Matty’s will do the 1.8km swim, I will receive the timing band from him and jump on my bike and time trial 90km, then pass the timing band to Matty to complete the half Ironman with a 21km run….No pressure Matty. This ride for me will be the beginning of my training for Crit. Season and the 2015 Tour De Cure ride…..1100km Melbourne to Adelaide in April.


My beast.
Melanoma is a beast of a disease and can wither you down and make your life hell, however, it can also make your life more valuable and important than ever…..whether you have cancer or something negative in your life remember to not let it weigh you down or beat you. Positive mind set is the key to everything you want in life…….go to work unhappy and your day will be that…….walk into the door at the end of the day in that negative mood……then that will impact on those you love……make the most of everything you have and enjoy what is around you and share your love…..take a moment to soak up the small things……. breathe and relax.

REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

WHAT A FATHER’S DAY PRESENT.

WHAT A FATHER’S DAY PRESENT.

It has been a big month and a bit. As you would know my surgery last month went well and I have recovered exceptionally well. I had two weeks off work and enjoyed my time chilling out and spending time with the girls and Lisa.

During this time my passion for riding was put on hold whilst I recovered……I decided to drop my bike off to ‘Top Gear Cycles’ for a service. Whilst the boys in the shop looked over my bike, they found a large crack in my frame and this was behind the seat post……immediately I was devastated…….but not Cancer devastated. Luckily the frame was under warranty, therefore replaced with an upgrade. For those non-bike people I was very impressed and excited to have this three-year frame upgraded and ready to go……unfortunately it needed to be shipped from Switzerland therefore time was in my way.

This meant I was without a bike for two weeks……this is where a good mate came to the rescue….my good mate Matthew Collins lend me his spare bike to continue riding until my bike was ready. A great mate who has supported me in all aspects of my Cancer Journey!

My new frame arrived and I have not been off it since. It is a beast and one hell of an upgrade. I see this as a reward for all I have been through. Images below of new wheels and my cracked framed.
New Bike 
Cracked frame. 
A cracked frame is not the end of the world…….nor is this blog entry……in fact the total opposite. 

Father’s Day is another milestone and moment I keep locked away in my memory bank. It started with a great breakfast at Ariella's school.


As most dad’s you are woken up with the excitement of your children jumping on you with their presents and hand made cards. The girls had made amazing cards…..with beautiful words. Kalita our middle child had hand written her first card, mind you she is only in 4YO kinder. It was beautiful!! Ariella had purchased a blue hard case wallet that is water proof and bright enough so I cannot lose it and a ‘Super Dad pen'. Zahlia had drawn a picture on a card that represented a very skinny version of me. All of these gifts were priceless. The day was wonderful, time spent having breakfast at my favourite CafĂ© and then time in the park. Thanks to Lisa for all of her hard work.



The best present of all came the following day. I had scans the Friday before the weekend and Monday after Father’s Day I had an oncologist appointment……..results are here………last line on the report was: NO EVIDENCE OF METASTIC DISEASE!!!! Oncologist comments: ‘REMISSION’.
The last line of my CT report. 
I am over the moon and cannot believe I am here today almost two years down the track from what was the worst news ever to receiving the best news a cancer patient can receive. The Father’s Day present is now something that will see me here for a long time to come.
Christmas 2012
Comparison two years later. 
The past two years have been an emotional roller coaster ride. I have had five major surgeries, radiation treatment; active tumors appear here and there, a seizure, time off work, struggles, fatigue, numerous scans and blood tests. I know none of these things will change or go away and I am sure areas of my melanoma journey will somehow test me in the future……however; melanoma has picked the wrong person to bully. Challenges in life are here to test us and to see what we can do when faced with adversity.

What I have learnt and will always say and share with people. To be here today and in such a good state of mind and health, works on two important levels…… 48% oncology, 52% positive attitude and always working towards a healthy life and future.

I can personally say I have, (with the support of family, friends and my wonderful wife), worked hard for almost two years to have these positive results. My fitness, diet and positive mindset have had a huge impact on my results so far.

For my dear friends who have their own battles in life……..positivity and love of others is the key to wellness and moving forward. 

To one special friend of mine….all the best this week and keep on fighting, you are an amazing person who is loved dearly. Onwards and upwards!

A quote I love to refer to and use a lot.


REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S 





Tuesday, August 5, 2014

MASSIVE MONTH OF JULY.....

A lot has happened this month. We celebrated our middle child, Kalita’s 5th birthday. It was brilliant and the smile on her face was priceless. As I have always said to be here for milestones and my children’s/wife’s birthdays are always a time to cherish.



Biggest Smile. 
Elsa Cake by Lisa Carnell. 
Cake and our gorgeous 5 year old
Kalita in her Ana dress up
Lisa did an amazing job with the cakes and decorations. Celebrating the day with family and friends is always enjoyable. Special moments need to be treasured.

The month of July also saw two mates (Jay Allen and Andrew Rust) of mine walk from Sydney to Melbourne 900km to raise money and awareness for Melanoma…….and they did this with ease. Their last leg of the walk was onto the MCG at quarter time of the Hawks V Swans game. As a Hawks supporter it was always on my calendar to attend and support the boys walk……The hawks won and I attended the game with my dad who has been an amazing support to Lisa, the girls and I. Lovely to spend this quality time with dad. Even though dad is a swans supporter and the loss for him was tough…..I didn’t rub it in. Kept quiet the whole time. Hopefully the Hawks can go back to back in 2014.

Boys Walking into Peter Mac Cancer centre
Sharing my journey at Peter Mac

Back to the 900km walkers their aim was to raise $100 000…….achieved this with a generous number of donations hitting the total of $150 000….. all funds will go towards Melanoma Research at the Melanoma Institute Australia….. focusing on Brain Metastases.  Prior to the walk into the MCG we had an event at Peter Mac Cancer centre to celebrate the boys achievements……I was invited to speak at this event, an honour to say the least.

The following day I met the boys at SEN sports central Radio show to have a half an hour live interview with host Brett Philips. The podcast is here for those who would like to listen.
Jay Allen, Andrew Rust, Brett Phillips and Myself

 

 

These inspiring guys and their efforts will be something I will always remember and cherish, Both cancer survivors …… My girls came the event and listened intently to the boys and my talk also…….I was anxious about this…..not with speaking in public part, but with what questions the girls will have about Cancer and Melanoma……they are still unaware of my illness. To my surprise they asked questions that really gave them a better understanding of what Melanoma is and what the event was about.  

Cancer has given me an opportunity to connect with many people and I have always said that it has allowed me to embrace the disease in a positive way and challenge myself to give back to those who are suffering.

SURGERY NUMBER 5 OVER THE PAST 18 months: 

In my last blog entry I had scans that still showed a tumour left in my chest area between the right lung and the ribs this has been there since October 2012 and slowly growing…..I also mentioned that my oncologist was looking into radiation or surgery……. By the end of July it was decided that I would have surgery……I am now recovering from Keyhole surgery that deflated my lung and allowed the surgeon to use a camera and a burning/cutting instrument to remove the last tumour. 

I went in on Friday 1st August and had the tumour removed. I have added some photos and I will warn you they are graphic.

I received this image via an anonymous
Selfie
Drain Tube or Hose that was in my chest area.
The clear tube was inside me
My weekend recovery was short……the drain tube or should I say hose was removed on the Sunday and I was then released later this day. The image above shows the clear part of the hose that was inside my chest area …… To go home to my gorgeous girls was a relief….the short stay was a lot easier on Lisa and left me with the comfort of knowing it was less stress for all

I will say that my two weeks off work will be needed. I am really sore and finding it hard to sleep with comfort…… My chest areas feels like it has been ripped apart. The tumour has been removed and without a scan, declares me disease free. I am over the moon with this news. Cancer is not over….but a step in the right direction and I will take each challenge that may be ahead of me. This surgery has clearly left me off the bike for a while which will hurt even more…..Prior to surgery I was smashing the K’s and hills to get myself super fit for surgery. I was averaging 200km a week and climbing an average of about 1800m a week. This time off will give Matty time to get fit and recover from some heavy rides we have had.

All is well….I will be back to work soon and on the bike sooner rather than later. Time and patients is needed. Having time at home is a huge bonus…… time to do school and kinder pick ups and drop offs…. see the girls at gymnastics and swimming.

In the coming month I have a couple of presentations to do with Education groups and a cancer event. I have been invited to present my story to the Diamond Valley Sporting Centre and I am thrilled to do this…..as well as talk to my old Footy Club and the players about Finals footy.
Promotional Poster I had nothing to do with.
Tour De Cure Crew should be happy with the promotion. 


Hope everyone is well.

REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S XXX