Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CHRISTMAS AND SCANS

HERE WE GO! 

Some images of some exciting times that have been had on the bike and with my lovely wife running in an event.
My 107km Ride with Tim Green from TDC
107km with 2700m of climbing. 
Lisa and Narelle Ran the 10km Susan Fun Run
The Girls and their school friends running the 500m Version
Merry Christmas to everyone…… I trust and hope you all had a joyous and magical time this Christmas 2015. We do become all consumed with all the commercial aspect of Christmas. I personally love Christmas. The decorations, traditions, food, family time, friends and the many lights to view as you drive around the suburbs admiring the passion and love of Christmas.

Each Christmas is always special, the more I treasure with each year. I believe that I am very lucky each Christmas I see. This was my fourth Christmas since being diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. It is an unpredictable beast that can pop up without any notice….. its not an app that can send you notification alerts or Calendar reminder that reminds you of events or occasions…..it’s just there. I am hoping that one day it will no longer be there for me and likewise for other melanoma patients……and we would all be worry free.

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This Christmas we went away the week before Christmas for nine nights to Broadbeach, in Queensland. This meant taking the girls out of school before their school term had ended, however they would agree that it was well worth missing that last week. We had a brilliant time away.




Family Selfie
Family Selfie

Drive home from the Airport

The weather was beautiful; each day was spent relaxing. The girls were water logged each day.

Lisa ran each morning and was the most relaxed I have seen her…….the hustle and bustle of attending and driving to and from gymnastic, dance and swimming lessons, added to this school drop offs and pick ups had finally come to a stop for 2015, and for the next seven or so weeks. Life is so busy that sometimes when we withdraw from life's craziness, we realise time is not meant to be so all-consuming.

Before Christmas, in November the girls had gymnastic displays. It was a very proud time for Lisa and I to witness what they have achieved.


Talented Gymnastic Girls 
The next event was their internal swimming competition at their swimming club. Ariella and Kalita both competed in 8-Year-old and under events. Ariella competed in the 25m freestyle event and the 25m Breastroke. Kalita entered the 25m Free and 25m Backstroke. Both girls did exceptionally well. Ariella did win both of her events, Kalita did exceptionally well given the distance was unfamiliar for her. Winning isn’t everything.

It’s moments like these, watching the girls achieve and develop, that have me overjoyed with pride and gratification for my health and the wonderful life our family has. Never take your child’s achievements for granted or ignore these moments no matter how busy you are. These moments ‘Inspire me!’

“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” (Michael J Fox)

In 2016, I am taking on a new venture in my career. After teaching for 19 years and working at Carey Grammar School (the most supportive community/workplace) I am about to begin working for Compnow as a Professional Learning and Development manager.


My Last day in the classroom. 
My passion in recent years and before cancer was and still is, working with IT in the classroom and aligning the iPads and these Application to the curriculum….. a lot was meant to change and I was going to pursue a career as an E-Learning Consultancy, before Cancer. My current decision to change was it’s.....TIME. I personally felt it been three years since being diagnosed it was time to make a change.

As the founder of Facebook once said:
‘The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.’

I don’t see this change as a risk…..Lisa is my rock and she has always backed and supported every decision I have ever made.

SCAN TIME:
Christmas Eve this year was scan day,,,,,,my three monthly scans……following this with a five day wait for my results….not the most ideal timing for this to happen (those who have or had cancer can understand this more than most) It was fair to say I was highly anxious. The lead up to the scans was a little worrying as I had intense headaches and it felt like I had brain tumours. I rode the morning of my scan to see how well I was. Riding for me is an indicator as to how my body is feeling.

I finished the ride with a mate and felt reasonable well.

Scanaxiety had kicked in and waiting for my scans was a little stressful.


The Rubbish Drink before a Scan and my reading material to distract me. 
The focus of Christmas and Christmas Day festivities was not on my mind.

Once home I felt better, less anxious as the day to evening approached.

Christmas morning was a time to just let it all go and focus on the arrival of Santa with the presents for the girls. What a morning and day we had. Thoughts of scans and cancer had all disappeared. I was now in the mood for the festivities of the day to come. ‘Joy Was All Around’.

Results came five days later……I do need to point out, I usually have scans and then my results the next day.

My scans results showed I no new tumours or concerns. Just the one lymph node in the chest area that has not grown…..it is still 1.5cm…happy days.

I have been supporting a few friends who have unfortunately been dealt the cancer card. We have had many coffees and chats, these friends are the most inspiring people. What I say to these friends is take control of YOU and make sure YOU focus on small goals in the next few months.

One last thing, Lisa and I had the chance to fly to Sydney to view the Tour De Cure Documentary, featuring the Adelaide to Melbourne ride I completed earlier this year. It was without a doubt one of the best TDC documentary’s they have done…..In fact Trent Miller the cameraman, won a cinematography award for his work on the TDC documentary. It will air the last Saturday in January 2016 Channel 7, Keep an Eye out for it.  


The Awesome TDC Production Crew from TDC Film.
Now its time to load up my legs with a lot of hills and K’s over the summer break.

Have a Happy, Healthy and Inspiring New Year.

Short Movie with what the girls have achieved: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxOermWnYjwmQmVRYXBmbklOZk0/view?usp=sharing


REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S







Monday, October 26, 2015

Highs and Lows of October.

The times we all feel down and out are the worst times of all. It is how you bounce back and pick yourself up from these situations….this is what defines you as a person.

Resilience is a hard word to define; the dictionary defines it as when you are able to: have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; tough situations or problems’.  

It has been a mixed month of many highs and lows, nothing wrong with my health just a few bumps in the road.

Let’s begin with a very exciting time for Lisa (my amazing, beautiful wife). We celebrated her 40th Birthday in October. It was a magical and magnificent night with friends, family and her old school mates. In all that she has done and gone through with me, it was brilliant to see her enjoy the night and have a party to celebrate her birthday. She is my (our) world and without her……who knows where I would be.

Three years ago when she turned 38, I was in hospital with three brain tumors and didn't remember her birthday. If there is anything I am truly emotional about and hurt inside about….is not celebrating her birthday that year.

You can see from the images below how much fun and beautiful her and the girls looked we all had:
The luckiest man in the world!








 Thanks to Louise and Pete for the cake. Yes, I didn’t make one! Poor form I know……but I know were my skills and limits are.


Now let’s not forget the other highlight since my last post…..the MIGHTY HAWKS won yet ANOTHER premiership. Thanks to John Stevens and his wife Grace for kindly getting me a ticket to the greatest show on earth…. I was once again grateful to see my team play in their fourth AFL Grandfinal and win three in a row. ‘WE’RE A HAPPY TEAM AT HAWTHORN!’
Hawks training!



Johnny and I 
GO HAWKS!!


From this amazing high and celebration…..to the sad passing of my nan, Betty Jones, the girls ‘great grandmother’, my dad’s mum. She was one tough, stubborn, determined and elegant lady.

Passing at 90 Years of age, meant she had a great innings, nine children, 37 grandchildren and 25 great grand children. I was there when she passed; a truly a sad time. The hard part was explaining why people die to our girls. She was someone who knew so much and a lady who will be missed. RIP Nan. My dad spoke so very well at the funeral and with such pride of who she was and what she achieved.
My Nan and I. 
In all of this, I had scans in early October…..which to my disappointment revealed a small 15mm growth in my lymph nodes behind my sternum. Not on my lungs or in them, but between the chest wall and the right lung. I cannot feel it and have no health issues or signs of cancer from it. In fact I am feeling the best I have felt in a long time. The options are simple, if it gets larger in size when they scan again after Christmas, then they remove it. This was a reminder that this will be a lifelong journey, one of monitoring, scans, treatment and more perspective on what is around you.

Pleasingly there are no signs of any other tumors in my body. My fitness and health are perfect. It was a shock, but not something that concerns my oncologist….in fact he said that at the moment I am creating new stats for the Dabrafenib (the drug that is keeping me from progressing further) as most patients on this drug are rejecting it after 18 months and have progressed, therefore they need another treatment option. I have been on this drug now for 28 months. Happy days!

When in a moment of thinking; ‘here we go again!’….a light shines……this was seeing Kalita, our middle child ride her bike without training wheels for the first time. Times like this make you realise what life is about. Her determination to ride without training wheels was priceless and put things is perspective. Then seeing your children have fun playing in a park.

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For me cancer has made me learn more about myself and I believe it has made me a better person and grab opportunities with both hands.

I read this line once; ‘We come from nothing, we go to nothing….so our life in between has to count for something’. This time in my life of being diagnosed with cancer; reminded me of my life’s core values – love, compassion, kindness, patience (which I lack at times), care, humility, trust and resilience.

In saying all this I have taken a huge step in my professional life. I believe nothing should get in your way….I am a person who is passionate and determined to achieve. Therefore after 19 years of full time classroom teaching I am taking 12 months leave from a wonderful, caring and supportive school to pursue my passion as an E-learning Consultant…working with a company aligned with Apple called Compnow, assisting educators at other schools, universities and businesses on how to use technology for teaching and learning. Engaging others to embrace learning via an iPad or iDevices/technology of some form.

Another area in the next phase of life is; I would love to share my Cancer story with others. Whether this is presenting to corporate’s, schools, sporting clubs or industry. Who knows?!

As mentioned earlier my health is great with a slight tumor growth….but still riding around 220km a week, with mates who are fantastic support….albeit chasing my wheel!!!


One place we ride frequently and I love, is Mt. Dandenong. A lovely 80km loop and climb. Every time we ride this way, we pass the pharmacy company GSK, that distributes the dabrafenib drug I am on to keep everything stable. This time when we went passed we took a photo. 'I am riding passed the company that keeps me alive and I am riding to keep fit, healthy and stable. Isn’t it ironic?’


I am currently training for a ride in November. 107 km from Warburton to the top of Mt. Donna Buang! Should be fun and a challenge. Roughly 20km climb is in there somewhere and about 2750metres of elevation will be covered.

Looking forward to the challenge. Doing something and aiming for something really gives you focus and obviously a goal to achieve.

As I always say,

REMEMBER TO HUG YOUR LOVED ONE'S.