Our lives begin with simplicity, and we just seem to complicate it all from there.
But of course, this is the nature of the opportunity called life.
When things have gone horribly wrong in my life, I slow down, reflect, and find a way to take the next step no matter how small or insignificant it may seem in that moment.
Below is a timeline and an insight into the random unplanned and very unexpected events in my life. Jotting this down has helped me immensely, it has highlighted a pattern on how I have reacted and moved forward. It has also highlighted that when things have gone off track, I have in the first instance focused on the next step, more than the why. Knowing this has become a gift of self-awareness.
1981 October 22nd, one of those young love moments, where Claire and I eloped to Brisbane, Australia from our homes in Waikanae Beach, NZ. Now this is a whole other story for another time.
1989 January – Claire and I were married in Waikanae.
1989 December 7th, just months after we were married and Claire pregnant with our first child, my Dad Dennis suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 52. Dad dropped dead right in front of my brother Graeme and I, during an evening cricket training session – Dad was the team coach.
1990 May – Our first child born, a son, we name him Zachary
1994 August – Our second child born, a daughter, we name her Georgia
1999 Claire and I win a brand new $50,000 Land Rover 4 wheel drive vehicle, via the Unlimited Magazine.
2002 I suffer a 4-month episode of Bell’s Palsy – looks a lot like a stroke, but is an infection of the 7th cranial nerve in your face, very debilitating – This was most likely a result of work stress.
2008 An unexpected win – a $150,000, 7.5-metre Italian motorhome.
2012 Broken Neck – During a cycling event and in the lead group 30km’s into a 100km race, a large crash – I am now paralysed down one side in a ditch at the side of a country road.
2012 Financial Disaster strikes just two days into my broken neck drama – totally immobilised in a hospital neuro ward, the long treacherous arm of the GFC reached out and took down my business, I lost our family home and all financial resources, leaving us almost entirely broke. I was helpless and unable to move or respond to anything, this was heartbreaking and so so devastating.
2013 Broken Neck – 9 months later I fully recover.
2013 As true as a Roo’s Tale: In the pitch black of a 5:30 am morning – My first recovery ride back with my cycling buddies after seriously breaking my neck 9 months earlier in a cycling race. We were heading up to a favourite Gold Coast Climb, then whammo a Kangaroo flashes out of the tree line and collided with me – head on – the Roo and me eyeball to eyeball in the pitch black with a big semi heading straight at us in the opposite direction – the result! … a busted bike, a black eye, followed by a lot of nervous exhaled laughs of relief from those behind me once they realised that I had not re-broken my neck.
2014 My younger brother Graeme – RIP – falls to Cholangiocarcinoma.
2014 Claire wins the grand tour prize to the “Tour Down Under” – the world’s UCI Cycling tour opener in Adelaide Australia. An all-expenses-paid 4-day experience with the tour sponsor and pro cycling elite, worth several thousands of dollars.
2015 My Gallbladder disintegrates creating unbelievable pain, a medical emergency and 5-hour operation.
2016 I receive the exact same Cholangiocarcinoma diagnosis as my brother Graeme, that had me descending at a dizzying speed.
2017 (January) An aneurysm to end it all very quickly, but another stroke of very good luck the right surgeon (Tom Snow) in the right place at the right time – with only seconds to spare Tom was available to save my life.
2017 (July) I was down to weeks if not days to live. Then came more luck in the form of a Dr Matthew Burge and a “Hail Mary Pass” from Keytruda – only a tiny subgroup of 9 people made it on to a global Keynote trial. I was the only one to respond fully and immediately.
2017 (October 10th) An unexpected complete and full recovery, becoming the 2nd ever-patient globally to have overcome CCA from a stage 4 Metastatic setting.
2018 Claire wins the same amazing “Tour Down Under” 2019 grand prize yet again.
2018 The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation advised me that I had been awarded one of their 3 full scholarship positions to attend Salt Lake City for the Annual Foundation Conference in Feb 2019.
A very weird normal rhythm to life from a young age.
I have experienced and learned much in life, many many things that most would struggle to believe as true, like my black eye and busted bike as a result of a head-on crash with a Kangaroo. This happened on my very first group recovery ride just 10 months after breaking my neck.
Pain and pleasure have been significant and determined teachers, essentially gifting me uniquely powerful insights and wisdom in life.
I truly have been forged in fire between the Hammer and the Anvil.
Who could plan or avoid such stuff? Many laugh at such scenarios . . . The stuff of movies and comedy not for real life . . . don’t laugh too loud about such folly, I have experienced it all. I was prepared or so I thought!
For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. The world is my oyster . . . It could never happen to me! and it’s not just about me it has a much much wider impact!
What did I do wrong? absolutely NOTHING, this could happen to anyone anytime. You can never prepare to avoid such a series of events, the trick seems to be in the recovery which seems so unlikely in times of extreme pain! We are all equipped with an internal freedom of choice to try or not to try, truly a very powerful resource within which is at our disposal until our last breath.
Who could plan or foresee successes that I have experienced? Successes that have risen up from seemingly nowhere, born only from a willingness to keep trying without the comforts of any proof. Winning Lotto doesn’t even come close in any comparisons.
A roller coaster of events outside my conscious view and control have influenced my direction in life. They created new visions and the challenges and aspirations that go with them, it is always sweet and sour, easy and hard – it’s all momentum and its always my choice as to how I use this momentum.