Exactly one year ago today I began a new life. On the 28th of December 2011 I ended up flat on my back in hospital after having two seizures.
Only a week earlier I had been practicing and holding one armed handstands on the floor and on a prop. I was hitting my backsault on the floor well, despite an ankle injury. I was feeling pretty fit and healthy.
Then I had the seizures, was taken to hospital and after some scans was told I had a brain tumour and cyst. In a blink of an eye I was no longer healthy. I don’t remember very much about that day. I remember being given Morphine because they didn’t believe the level I described the pain at. I remember being told to breathe by my brother because my oxygen levels were dropping. I remember that I was transferred from the Angliss to St Vincents but don’t remember actually being transferred, I know it happened late at night.
All of a sudden I was a patient at the same hospital on the same ward that I did my physio training at, but this time I was waiting to have brain surgery rather than being the one to help after brain surgery. Very quickly I realised that I had lost all the independence and control I thought I had.
I knew I had a choice at this point. I could think about everything I was missing out on, I could ask why me, I could feel sorry for myself or I could worry about what might happen in the future. The choice I made was to focus on what I could do, focus on what I did have.
I remember feeling quite calm at the time. I wasn’t worried about what might happen with the surgery, I knew the risks too well. Worrying about whether I would be able to walk after the surgery just wasn’t an option. My biggest concern was making sure my family, friends and karate was ok. I hated feeling that I was putting everyone out (especially my family) by being in hospital. I hated feeling like I had let everyone down, that I was a burden to other people.
I eventually realised that I couldn’t control what was happening and I couldn’t control what was going to happen but I could control the way I reacted. I didn’t have to be worried and sad because I was in hospital. None of us ever do have to be. No its not the best place to be but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative. I was learning a massive lesson about life. I was learning about gratitude, I was learning about happiness and I was learning about simplicity. Many of the things I had tried to understand from the Zen/Martial arts philosophies suddenly had new meanings. I finally realised that Martial Arts was never about fighting. Martial Arts was about living.
Yes I have cancer, but no it doesn’t mean my life is controlled by it!
Follow my journey through brain surgery and more (and access some awesome resources) at: