Yesterday I turned 54. Not a particularly big milestone for most of us. In fact, I travelled to Melbourne yesterday afternoon to attend a conference that I have the great privilege of speaking at every year. And in a job like mine, Sunday afternoon trips to another capital city are no big deal. It’s often the only way to get a good nights sleep by avoiding the 6.10am flights out of Canberra, especially in the winter, when fog can often delay flights for hours.
However, birthday’s are always a big deal for me, but not in the way you might expect. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I had to go through quite an ordeal when I turned 40. In short, I had to face my mortality.
An incurable diagnosis of a lymphoma that only 3.6 people in a million have the privilege of experiencing! Now, fourteen years later, despite an average life expectancy of five years post diagnosis, I am still here! And not only am I still here, but (at least for now) I’m fine.
But why am I fine, despite the odds?
Without the intervention of modern science I most certainly wouldn’t be here. But even science couldn’t guarantee fourteen years. Whilst I can’t give you the scientific explanation of why I am still here, I can explain it another way. And that is faith. Faith in love.
You see, not long after I was clinically diagnosed, my world as I knew it fell apart. I became resigned to the thought that my fate was to take the journey on my own. The thought of meeting someone who was prepared to travel with me through all of the uncertainty, all of the pain and anguish, without any guarantees of a future, seemed impossible to contemplate.
But how wrong was I.
About eighteen months into my diagnosis, being treated with full blood plasma replacements every three weeks, Carolyn arrived.
We met at work, (the very place I had convinced myself one should never met their future partner! I was wrong again!), and soon thereafter I shared with Carolyn my story, my diagnosis, the prognosis and a picture of the potential future.
For most, that would have been enough to say ‘Great meeting you, and good luck!’. But not Carolyn. She wasn’t going anywhere.
I had never met someone who was so committed to love, despite the odds. She came with me to every doctor’s appointment, every specialist appointment, every test, every treatment. In short, she would not leave my side. I remember saying to her one day as I lay in the oncology ward ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Her resolve was resolute. She was going nowhere!
Carolyn shed many a tear as we travelled through those early days because she thought that she would lose me soon (and she nearly did), but as time went on things got better. My health, after a significant treatment regime improved, and life generally improved with it.
Even as I proposed to her, I asked if she was sure she wanted to travel this road. I wont tell you the response, but suffice to say it was equally as resolute!
So, why am I still here? Because of love. Because of the love of my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my life and all that it encompasses.
The Greatest Privilege
Carolyn showed me a love that I never thought possible and she continues to show it each and every day. It is that love that I hold as the highest purpose in my life.
So this blog is an ode to my dear wife Carolyn, for without you I simply wouldn’t be here. I would not have the great privilege to live this most fortunate life, doing the things that I love doing, meeting and working with great people, and living a life of meaning and purpose. So if you ever wonder why I blog about faith from time to time, perhaps this might help to understand why.
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