Monday, March 31, 2014

Big Month

It has been a massive month for the melanoma world and myself! I have always said that having cancer has opened up many new and exciting opportunities for me.

Over the past month I have ridden with a young man named Raph (Image below), who was riding from Adelaide to Sydney in memory of his sister who passed with Melanoma. He was also raising money for The Melanoma Institute to add more funds for cancer research. 
Raph and I. 
Amanda and others that Rode with Raph to Whittlesea. 
Raph’s energy and dedication toward his personal quest was also completed with his sister, relatives and parents driving as support for him from state to state.

I met Raph on his leg from Footscray to Whittlesea. I joined him on Plenty Rd. Bundoora and rode 40km with him and a few other supporters of Raph who had also been touched by melanoma. We headed to Whittlesea where he stayed the night before continuing to Sydney to finish this quest.

From the group that met Raph, I finally met Amanda Lucci, whom I had only met via email or social media.  Amanda’s father passed away from Melanoma 2 years ago and she was behind organizing the March for Melanoma, which I will talk about later. These are the wonderful people I have met through cancer and made me take the commitment towards working with Melanoma.

This ride was enjoyable and proved how riding and exercise can connect people. Earlier that morning I trained with my cousin Mikael Camm who was training for his up coming debut Melbourne Ironman Event and was raising money for cancer via The Tour De Cure group. We rode 70km on the along Beach Rd. It was so nice to ride and spend time with him sharing stories and challenging each other at certain points along the ride.
Mikael Competing. 
This brings me to the Melanoma Walk around the Tan in Melbourne. Amanda, who I mentioned earlier, was the passionate and driving force behind organizing this event. The Melbourne Melanoma Support group that I started, banded together to form a fundraising group and this group raised a lot of money and was the force behind Melbourne being the highest fund raising group around the country. I am very proud of all who attended and what was raised for Melanoma research.  This walk gave us all a chance to reflect and celebrate life with family, friends and take a moment to realise what a lot of us have achieved in this terrible melanoma journey we are on.  I congratulate Amanda and her team for the endless work they did. It was great to have my family there and walk with Lisa, the girls and I.
Girls scooting on the walk.
Melanoma Support Group. 
My Family and friends supporting. 
Also this month saw another round of scans. Once again nerves and anxiety got me….no idea how to solve this. I had my scans on Friday and my appointment wasn’t until the Monday…… Far too long to wait, those who are in this situation know how I felt. To top it all off, the CT scan room I was in had a screen switched on and was facing me. This has never happened before……I was watching the scans happen and was trying to analyse the images…..not a good idea. You can only image the thoughts running through my head.  NOTE: to radiographers, patients having scans do have worries and concerns when being scanned..... anxiety levels are high…. therefore keep all screens off and out of view.

My results turned out to be all good….. I still have one remaining tumour in the chest area behind the lungs. Not moving or doing anything….. been there since October 2012…... No new tumours or issues. I decided to name my permanent residence (tumour) ‘The Stayer’, as it doesn’t seem to want to leave.

I am relieved with the results and happy to be feeling fit and healthy.

My family is very well; Lisa is still injured and frustrated with the lack of exercise she can do and not being able to work is also taking it’s toll, however, she is slightly happier with her new car. It has been great to have Lisa home on Saturday’s and not working. Our regular Pancake Saturday now involves Lisa.

Ariella is doing extremely well at school with her work and is eager to learn. She is jumping groups in her swimming lessons and also at gymnastics. Kalita loves Kinder and exploring her writing skills by penning letters to her friends and us. Zahlia is doing very well with gymnastics and has an adorable habit of trying her hardest to follow and do everything her sisters do. She also loves her swimming and gymnastics.
Zahlia and my nephew Flynn.
My Gorgeous Ariella and sister Olivia.
These memorial moments are very much locked in my memory and definitely celebrated. It is important no matter how small or how big to always celebrate and enjoy your family moments.

I am also very excited as I head to join the Tour De Cure group for 250+km of riding from Mansfield to Eilden, then Eilden to Port Melbourne roughly 5000m of climbing. I have trained harder than last year’s tour. Last year I was under done and was coming off some serious illness and surgeries.  A very big thanks to all those who have supported me and raised funds for cancer research! 
Thanks to Matthew Collins who has trained with me for the lead up to this ride. Also congratulations to Matthew and his wife on the birth of their third daughter..... there goes my riding partner. 

I will keep you posted with my ride and how it all went.

Life sends us challenges and we need to take these challenges head on.

Remember to hug your loved one's. Love to all. x

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Opportunities That Occur When You Have Cancer:

As the title suggests there have been many opportunities that have occurred since being diagnosed with Cancer. As I always say embrace all that is offered to you in life.

People can complain and whine about small things and not do anything about this. People who have cancer have the entire rite in the world to moan, complain and feel sorry for themselves, as well as be pissed off with the world, ‘WHY ME?’

But with every negative a positive can occur. Simple quote I have used in my talks on cancer and my journey is:

This says it all. Embrace what has happened in your life and make a go of the situation. Let it strengthen you and not define you.

Whist riding one day I saw this quote and grabbed a photo of it. It sums up all that is happening in my life and journey.

The opportunities that have occurred for me would never have happened without my cancer. I was recently asked again to talk to the Melbourne Football club and its new recruits/coaching staff. This was an honor. My presentation went very well and you can scroll through the slide show below.

                            Melbourne FC presentation 2014 from Nathan Jones

A thrilling opportunity I was given by a friend and sporting mentor Brian Rabinowitz, who invited me in 2012 to talk on his radio show when I was first diagnosed. I loved the having a chance to talk with him and his colleagues on 1116 SEN ‘Higher, Faster, Stronger’. 

Once again last month in fact, I was invited back to talk to them and about my journey so far and all things, Health and Fitness in relation to Cancer.
Naturally I spoke about cycling, running and energy levels as well as positive mindset towards having cancer. You can hear this podcast from the link provided above.

The Melanoma Support Group and our friends are walking on the 23rd March as part of the Melanoma March for research into Melanoma at The Australian Melanoma Institute. Once again an opportunity for all of us to embrace and work together raising funds for research and meet others on the same journey. This group has allowed me to meet wonderful people and motivate me to fight for Melanoma research and work with organisation’s to work together for a common cause. I am also speaking at this event. A nervous moment I am sure for my family and I.

All of these opportunities mentioned have allowed me to share with others and ‘commit’ myself to this horrid disease in a positive way.

Also ‘challenge’ myself to share my story and ‘connect’ with others and make them aware of how precious life is and hopefully make a difference to those in my life or those who are following my journey. Lastly, take ‘control’ of my life and this situation, keep fit, healthy and strong in mind.

Life is tough and it is easy to say ‘it is too hard’ and sit on our hands. But this option is not the decision I am taking, nor for those who are suffering in life.

A lady I know quite well and someone who has a battle on their hands has truly embraced life and changed her mindset. This person has taken on more and kept busy, exercising more frequently, enjoying opportunities that are coming her way. I have been extremely impressed with the change in their approach and attitude to the fight they have. She is moving forward and seeing the other side of the journey she has unfortunately been put on. I am very proud of her.

Blood Results
I did receive blood results today (Wednesday). All very positive and in the words of Phillip, my oncologist, ‘you are a very different person. You really are testing and pushing the boundaries of Cancer. You are not NORMAL’. I’ll take these words as a complement.  I am clearly over the moon with my health and fitness.

Which leads me to my Tour De Cure Training. Thanks to all those who donated! I have reached my Fund raising target and I am looking forward to riding the Tour in 4 weeks, just after my next scheduled scan.

My training is going really well. I have been climbing the hills and clocking the K’s. Averaging around 220km’s a week. My mate and training partner (Matthew Collins) has been a huge support.

We have ridden a lot together and shared many stories along our rides. Laughed and spoken of our ‘better halves’ and children (all positive Lisa).

I have also entertained Matty recently with a stack whilst riding last weekend. After climbing the Dandenongs (Lovely image below), I decided to clip the gutter and fall.
Matty was behind and saw this all happen. He recalls that I bounced when I hit the ground, yes it hurt. The concern was for my bike. All is fine.

As you can see from my images, my knee did cop a battering. Matty and I laugh about it now. First stack in a long time!
On the home front, the family……is slightly sick. The two younger girls have picked up a virus, keeping us busy. Lisa is also injured. She has a torn ligament in her finger, ‘The Rude Finger’, along with a strained arch in her foot. Separate incidents by the way. Therefore making her unable to work or keep fit……. I am keeping her happy. Happy wife = Happy life. Its my turn to look after her!

Also in the short time since my last blog entry. It was my wonderful, amazing and loving dad's (Granddad's) birthday. 

Last weekend, we ventured as a family to the Enchanted Maze at Arthurs Seat. Everyone loved the day out.

The girls are busy with activities, gymnastics, dance, kinder, swimming, school and playing with their dolls. All of which I embrace and love.

Life is precious and we need to embrace all it offers. Don’t sweat the small things. Share with others.

Remember to hug your loved one's. Love to all. x