I had the great pleasure of addressing the Myeloma Foundation SA this week and chairperson Ian Driver reminded me that I first spoke to the group back in 2006.
The significance of that was that it was the first time I’d “gone public” since being diagnosed with bowel cancer in late 2004.
Those six years have passed remarkably quickly and more importantly on the health front incident free.
I have spoken to dozens of support groups since so it was a welcome return.
I told the Myeloma group how much I enjoy getting out and telling my story. Not that it’s anything unique. Sadly tens of thousands of Australian are going through the cancer ordeal every year.
The difference with me is that as a public figure, someone most Adelaidians feel they’ve known for over thirty years, my story is of interest to them.
Some use me as a barometer as to how they’re going dealing with their own cancer. One man a few years ago came up to me and said. “G’day Graeme. I’ve been following your progress very closely. I got bowel cancer a year after you did, and I figured if that bloody bloke on TV can beat cancer, so can I.” We both had a good laugh.
I find talking about my cancer journey in public and the making of Cancer – What Now?* helps people in a similar situation realise there is hope, that plenty can be done, but you must be pro-active and positive in dealing with it.
As I said to the Myeloma group if my talk helps them they must realise it bounces back and helps me too. I always leave talking to cancer support groups envigorated and re-newed. It’s a great feeling.
For those who have pre-conceived ideas as to the atmosphere at a support meeting as being gloomy and depressing I can I assure you the exact reverse is the case. There’s optimism and a positive vibe and most importantly there’s humour.
These people touched by cancer whether it be as patients, carers or family and friends have learnt how precious life is and to treasure every moment.
It’s a real message for all fit, healthy and able-bodied amongst us to enjoy life for what it is and not to lose sight of what is really important. Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’s a lesson I learned after being diagnosed with cancer. A wonderful lesson, but a “bloody” tough way to learn.
Available at National Pharmacies and online at http://www.cancerwhatnow.com.au