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 

From this amazing high and celebration… 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.

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,


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