Saturday 28th December 2013
Twenty years ago today, in the middle of a dynamic and demanding career whilst based in Singapore, I received the news that almost everyone, at some time in their lives, truly fears: “I am sorry, but you have cancer.”
Sadly, it was a cancer that had already spread, or ‘metastasised’ as they like to say in the medical world. This would mean returning to Perth where the doctors had a better understanding of malignant melanoma and where I would undergo more surgery, chemo and radiotherapy over a four month period...if I even lived that long. It meant our two children, Brenden and Lisa, along with their mum Katherine, would be split-up as we didn’t even have a car or home in WA. It was our darkest time.
Today, I am off to Trigg Beach to go surfing with my old mates, and afterwards will walk to Cottesloe Beach with my soul-mate, Katherine, for my twice-weekly soy cappuccino and a quiet and relaxed read of the newspapers. Perfect.
Much has happened in that twenty years. And the most surprising ‘gift’ from my cancer journey has come from the incredibly inspirational people we have met along the way. Some of them have now passed-over; some are still with us, but all of them continue to inspire us for the way they embraced not only their cancer journey, but life itself.
And herein lays the real paradox: If I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer I would not have met many of these people who have changed the way I live, and the way I look at life, so dramatically.
So to those people - and you know who you are - both Katherine and I salute you.
To those of you who have recently diagnosed with cancer, or who have a friend or family member facing the cancer journey, there is usually much that can be done including significantly improving your general health that will in-turn complement what your doctors will be doing for you.
And improving your general health needs to be more than just nutrition - which is, of course important. But consider the following:
Nutrition (Including freshly prepared (by YOU) vegie juices every day.
Attending support groups
Spirituality (getting to know yourself from the inside)
Meditation (Nature’s beautiful way to create inner peace, lower blood pressure and create clear thinking)
Not taking life too seriously and laughing a lot
Reiki (Hands-on healing)
Learning to simply say ‘no’ occasionally
Knowing that happiness is a choice; not a search
Reading my book Living Simply with Cancer :)
As for the order of importance, well that is up-to-you, but to empower yourself by actually making a contribution to being well is one of the most important things you can do.
So, finally then, how will I celebrate this milestone of twenty years? A big party? A dinner for all those who have supported me? No. Just a simple thank you to all those who have made such a difference.
To people like Ros Worthington who founded Breast Cancer Care (WA), Cathy Brown from Cancer Support WA who picked-up my world that was in pieces back in late 1993 and gave me hope and a purpose, and to a truly remarkable young man, Clinton Heal who despite his own personal journey with multiple cancers, founded melanomaWA who support and touch thousands of people every year, I simply acknowledge you as very special human beings.
To our close friends and family members who stuck by us during those horrendously dark days in early 1994 again, we say thank you.
My life is better for having you as an integral part of my world.
Ross B. Taylor