A big thanks, to those who helped me kick cancer’s butt.

June 11, 2013

My surgeon, The Genius, said it like we’d won the pub meat raffle.

“The tests are back, and we’re sure we’ve got it all.” His voice was pleased, but measured. The tray of t-bones thanks.

I was in my hospital bed, enjoying the lingering effects of the morphine. Minus a cancerous prostate.

What do you say to someone who may have just saved your life? It is a moment in time. Surely worthy of a man’s greatest speech.

Or not. I came up with two slurred words. “Thanks Doc”.

He didn’t seem to mind. Everything had gone perfectly. Text-book surgery, he called it. Just what a patient wants to hear.

It’s hard to describe the relief. Fears and doubts, extinguished in a single sentence. Light overcomes dark. Success, I have no doubt, from all those positive vibes.

Later, as The Genius was off saving someone else, I reflected on the love that has been directed my way. Strange in a way, that it took cancer to make me fully appreciate that.

In the days before surgery, I received messages from such a varied bunch. Family and friends. Media colleagues from today, and decades ago. Old school buddies. Footy mates. Racing folk. And you, dear readers of this blog.

A few went above and beyond. The precious gift of passing on strength I didn’t possess. Support and reassurance from the heart. It let me enter that operating theatre, as positive as I had been in the months before. I’ll never forget that.

After a few days of being looked after by a wonderful medical team, I left hospital. With a catheter attached to me. This is a device inserted where things should never be inserted.

It must have originated as a military weapon of torture. How it came to be part of the medical world I have no idea. But it did the job. It came out after a week, and I would have gladly given the nurse responsible a new car for her gentle efforts.

Now, I’m resting up. And yes, there are challenges ahead. A blood test in a few weeks will tell me whether the cancer has spread. The Genius is confident that won’t be the case. So am I. In fact, I’ve called the result of this race before they hit the post.

To everyone, thank you. I asked for help to kick cancer’s butt, and you gave it to me.

Others are still in the fight. I think of them daily. Some are not so fortunate. A great mate lost his mum, just days after I was released from hospital. So unfair.

The mission now is to help others. If you’re a bloke over 40, get your prostate checked. Yes, 40. If you’re the partner of a bloke over 40, make him get his prostate checked. And don’t take no for an answer.

Life is a raffle. I’m confident I’ve won this time. If your turn comes, I want the same result for you.

Toilet troubles, crook knees and baldness. Let the Old Fart celebrations begin.

August 21, 2012

We are all getting so very old. Ancient, even.

Thank you Captain Obvious, I hear the crowd roar. But you must stick with me here.

I’m referring to a particular group. My mates. The boys I grew up with.

We are all approaching fifty years. A bunch of us, hobbling towards five decades of life. Some with more hair than others.

The first of the birthdays was at the weekend. Others will follow in the months ahead. Then next year. And a few in the early part of 2014.

You might tag us as over the hill, but we’re all still young at heart. We remember how it once was. What we used to get up to. I wouldn’t say we were wild. Although others might. I prefer to remember us as high-spirited, and fun-loving.

When we get together these days, we try to do the things we once did. For a while at least. Before one of us nods off.

For this party, we decided to gather at our local a few hours earlier. A punt and a few cool drinks, before the official fun began. A time-honoured tradition among this gang.

One by one they arrived. I don’t get to see them that much now, so every greeting featured a heart-felt hug and a firm handshake.

The ales flowed, and so did the stories. But the topics are so very different.

I returned to the table after a successful wager at Caulfield, to find the boys deep in conversation about their prostates. Not the footy, or the surf, or even a joke. Prostates.

One was recovering from a test. Another had one booked. Everyone had a horror story. Can’t be too careful, you know.

This bunch had been known to take over entire disco dance floors, and drain kegs in backyards. And here we were, discussing troubled male glands. In the same bar that the more spirited had arm wrestled in their youth.

For me, the conversation was a timely one. I’m having surgery later this week. They asked plenty of questions and painted terrible pictures about what was ahead. So nice of them.

We then shifted body parts. One of the boys described his progress after a knee replacement. A bloke who terrorised opponents on the field years ago. Now paying a painful price.

We left for the party soon after. A gentle walk towards the beach. A few were hobbling. One softie was even complaining about the cold. Why didn’t I take a jacket?

We arrived, and found other tell-tale signs around the room. One of the boys on crutches. Another bung knee. And it’s fair to say no-one was carrying a hair brush.

A bloke I hadn’t seen in twenty years mentioned that he’d had a heart attack a few years back. He was a respected opponent in our battles on the paddock. Now he was careful about his weight, and what he ate. Although it must be said, his form on the night was most impressive. I’m guessing the cardiac surgeon has given beer the green light.

A few haven’t made it this far. So sad. One of our great friends fought cancer like a warrior a few years back. The despicable disease got him in the end. Another is in the fight of his life right now. And we’re backing him to get the cash.

So we’re the lucky ones. Still very much alive and kicking. Having a giggle. Just falling asleep earlier.

The birthday boy finished the night by falling down the stairs. There was mock concern for a while, before everyone started laughing at him. I’m told he made a full recovery.

That’s what’s got us this far. A healthy dose of that great Australian trait. The ability to laugh at ourselves. And join is the fun with those closest to us.

My time’s coming, I know. The good news is that my knees are fine. And I’m still safe on the stairs. But can someone lend me a jacket? It’s freezing in here.