Sunday, June 29, 2014

Race Day.....

 Race time.

About a week ago I had my first competitive Duathlon race (5km run, 26km ride, 3km run) my good mate, Matthew Collins and I entered this event. It was something that I wanted to see if I could do this and complete.

I got back to running about a month ago. Trying my hardest to get the running fitness up in this time. I knew my bike leg would be fine. My strength and bike fitness was most likely at its best. Matty and I were clocking up some km’s hitting some big long rides in the past two months.

I was feeling fit…….in between entering and the race I was due for scans and results after the race. I had scans the Friday before the race……I was feeling fine and not expecting any negative news. The training and focus on the race was a very good distraction. I did my usual week of scanaxiety moments…….annoying Lisa with…..’Can you feel this lump’…….. ‘do you think this cough I have is tumour related?’.......I have no idea how she puts up with my moods and anxiety levels during scan week…….I need to realize while I am working full time, keeping fit, healthy, have no night sweats or weight loss then I should see myself as in a good shape that I need to see positivity and relax with my scans…….BUT A PERSON WITH CANCER OR MELANOMA CAN’T DO THIS……..Those who know this feeling and can relate to this will know what I am talking about.

Anyway, scans done…..focus on the race…….Sunday came and  I was pumped to be competing again…..set the gear out in transition ready to go. I was nervous but not scan nervous…….for the first time since 2011 I was race nervous.  Matty was doing his best to distract my mind…..but to no avail. I lined up and hit the pace when the gun went…….I was third into the first 1km and was pushing hard, but felt good…..5km done in 20min 47sec…..very happy with this time and my effort.

Third onto the bike and was feeling good…….. just waiting for Matty to pass me on his TimeTrial (TT) bike…….. ‘yes he had gone all out’…..ZIPP racing wheels….TT bike…. The only thing missing was his ‘Tear Drop’ aero helmet. He caught the second place athlete and I within the 5km of the bike leg. I sat on his wheel for little while…… trash talking him, what mates do!

Eventually he decided it was too dangerous for three guys to be taking turns to push the course. He kindly dropped the pace and fell off for a little while. We came into transition…..I was second off the bike… the runners on and started running, with my helmet on……rookie error. Instead of taking it off and throwing it……I ran back the 50m to drop it. By this time Matty had ran past….. trash talking me…….The end result Matty 2nd, 3rd for me and something I am very happy about.

We headed home….Matty  driving and thankfully modest in his effort in beating my by 30seconds……I got home and this is where I felt things change……given all my cranial surgeries…..I started to feel very ordinary….my head was hurting and I was feeling spaced out and unable to see accurately……My world felt like it was going to go pear shape….I was stressed. I decided to lie down and rest. This resulted in me falling asleep for a few hours. I think I needed it.

Nothing was concerning and all turned out ok…..but what I learned from this is that I am fit and able to race and be competitive, however, my brain is not ready and I have decided to give up the running again and will no longer run…..just keep my cycling going…… which has no effect on my head…..I will enter some crit bike races.

My competitive nature won’t go away and I will fight to keep racing but in another format. This goes for Melanoma….this race will be won and my reward will be beating this beast to see my girls grow up and spend many days, months and years with my best friend and love of my life…..Lisa.

I achieved one goal for this year to race my two passions cycling and running. 
My other goals are slowing being ticked off….they will be achieved!!!

Monday came and I went to the oncologist for my results ….. news was good….. I have added the report as an image for people to see what a Melanoma Patient may go through every month or three months depending on the scan time.

In short my results presented with no new tumours and my head was clear of tumours, just scar tissue explaining my head reaction the day before.

The small lymph node that is behind my lungs has grown 0.8cm one way and 0.2cm the other way….my oncologist isn’t concerned and thinks the drug Dabrafanib drug is working really well, but we are going to review this in 4 weeks time when he looks over my scans from the past 12 months. If he feels it is worth acting on then I’ll have a hit of radiation to get this spot gone… I have said many times I don’t even know it is there.

Chances like racing and doing what I can do day in and day out are constant motivating moments that make me marvel at the life I have……. If you had of told me in October 2012 that I would have placed 3rd in a duathlon in 2014 or even be working full time, cycling 180km a week……I would’ve have laughed in your face, I was unable to walk, communicate, or function as a normal then 37 YO male…….but it is cancer that I am laughing at……..I am not being complacent or relaxed I am being me and getting everything I used to do back into my life…..keeping things normal.

Lisa is back running and keeping busy….the girls are great and I am looking forward to spending the next two weeks off work with school holidays doing many things with them……

Also another important matter my AFL team the Mighty Hawks are going well. Sitting second on the ladder and looking ok for the seasons end. 

Short Clip of my Girls and their friends singing in the 
car to Frozen. Moments like these are enjoyable and I love these times (flash driven so might not play on an iPad). 

My friend who was diagnosed with cancer a month ago and someone I have been visiting whilst they were in hospital is doing extremely well……it has been great to be able to share my experiences with cancer and guiding this person through what is a challenging time for her and her young family….. Keep on fighting!

Don't forget to donate to my mates Jay Allen and Andrew Rust's Melanoma Fundraiser. They are walking 900km from Sydney to Melbourne in July link is here. 900km walk


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Time to reflect.....

Many times in your life you have times to reflect, but how often do we stop and really reflect?

Autumn has passed and we head towards winter…..cold, wet and many moments of feeling the chills in our bones……. Those who don’t like the cold will head north and find warmth. But for those who stick it out, warm up with: soups, open fires, blankets, heating, hot drinks, coffee and even food.

Did you look back and reflect on the beauty that autumn brings?
I did and this it was amazing……riding in the early hours of the morning I would stop and look at the deciduous trees shedding their autumn burnt orange leaves and the site of a brisk sunrise, fog rolling over the hills as I ascend a climb……We need to stop breathe and admire the surroundings. These moments I see and I am very grateful for being here to enjoy and see life in a beautiful way.

On one of my recent rides with Matty we hit some hills and rather big climbs………Once we caught our breath, we saw to the distance rain coming…..but in this misty rain was a magical rainbow (as you can see from the image). We both stopped and savored the moment, took a photo and admired what amazing surroundings we have. I will admit, seeing this rainbow made me reflect and think of Scott De Young and his family.

Seeking warmth this winter is around you….hug your children, husband or wife and family. This is the best warmth of all……my girls hugs when I come home from work or as they go to bed, make me realize I am here for a long time…….Lisa’s hugs are the one’s that warm my heart forever!

Zahlia, our youngest, had her 3rd birthday back in May, a Peppa Pig party……Lisa, as usual created an amazing Peppa Pig cake and platter of cupcakes and sweets (images below)…. Zahlia had an amazing day. Her big sisters were great, helped unwrap presents, made Zahlia feel very special. Another moment in my journey, I am very happy to be around for…… time with family in these moments and milestones are special.

Birthday Girl
My gorgeous Girls.

I'm a lucky man.

I have been busy……I am working hard at school. It is report writing time at the moment…..I have also been working outside school pursuing my passion with iPads and Education. I was fortunate enough to represent my school and Apple by presenting at the Doncaster Apple Store (images below) in an iPad Assessment/Learning workshop. By the way all the jokes about the pants I am wearing in the photo have all been used….so don’t bother…. I also worked with Pearson Education and hosted a two Webinars on Assessment Apps and Learning…..again opportunities I am jumping at.

My health is good….my recent blood tests came back ticking all the right boxes. I am feeling great….still cycling a lot, around 180km a week, hitting the gym and I even got back running again doing around 5km a week….just keeping fit and healthy.

Matty and I are planning to race a few Duathlons soon… these are: Run, Bike, Run…..I’ll keep you all posted on our efforts.

Lisa is back treating again and trying her hardest to run...but not luck. She's going to the gym, swimming and walking a lot. 

I have scans in three weeks time… the moment I am not that nervous…..but  I am sure I will be the week leading up to them.

People whom I bump into often ask me, 'how do you manage to keep so active and not tire?'

I truly believe positive attitude/mindset and focus is the answer to everything…..and if you really want something that bad you will work hard to keep it…..I want to live, beat Melanoma, see my girls grow up and be with my best friend, my wife, for a long time…..this means living healthy and being fit/active.

This also brings me to a friend of mine who has a troubling health situation at the moment……my message to this person is….. stay positive, fight and enjoy everything around you.

The message for everyone else is enjoy what is around you. See the beauty in your day……. During this winter and the cold days/months……seek warmth from those close to you.

Remember to hug your loved one's XXX