'It's cancer': How two little words changed my whole year

My mum is in her mid-70s, and last time she was in the hospital was 44 years ago, the day I was born. Yup – she's that healthy.

She still hikes, plays tennis, lifts weights, eats so healthy, and falls asleep before 9pm with a half glass of red each night. Mum's always been a safe bet to break the 100 year barrier – no problem.

However, a few weeks back she fell ill, and "Ah, it will be fine – no worries" was the sentiment from us all. A week, then two went by – nothing changed.

Tests. "It's going to be okay." Tests. "Gulp. I know it's going to be okay." And a few more tests.

The day after her biopsy, Mum shot 101 on an Arizona golf course – no doubt she'd outscore my duffer mates here in Sydney. Mum teeing it up is analogous to raising the middle finger and saying "IF I've got this, I'm going to carry on – try to stop me."

Don't they know? Everything should stop. My vision is blurred, there's no floor beneath me.

I love it. At 53kgs, she's a 5'2" (156cms) rebel.

Shocking news

Yet today, at this very moment, I'm in utter shock. "IF" has now become reality. My brother called this morning, and he said those two words that stopped my world. "It's cancer."

I'm in a tailspin, and reading sports news and looking at idiotic Facebook posts isn't helping my mind. I don't know what to do. Head to the Blue Mountains for meditation or dive into the refrigerator for that bottle of Belvedere?

I opened the refrigerator, but decided that hitting the morning vodka would be trumped by hitting the keyboard.


Today hurts, and those "tomorrow's another day" clichés won't cut it 'cause tomorrow is going to hurt again. And so will the next day and the days after that. I want time to stop. I just went for a walk in the Sydney downpour, and selfish me can't believe the world is still turning, that people are going to work, that things are carrying on.

Don't they know? Everything should stop. My vision is blurred, there's no floor beneath me, and my brain feels empty yet cramped.

What's next? I don't know.

A new direction

What I do know is my 2017 is taking a different journey, and my New Year's Resolution is now about three things – Fighting, Compassion, and Health.

Mum will teach me about fighting because she will not be defined by some word that starts with a C. Underneath her 'Mrs Brady' exterior is a woman ready to do battle. Myself, my brother, and her husband will battle with her.

On her last visit to Sydney, she was doing 100 push ups (4x 25 per day), adding to her years long scorecard that went well above 100,000. She's tough.

The world needs a bit more compassion. Everybody from Stockholm to Syria has shit going on – we all need to do be more compassionate.

I'm going to be healthier than I've ever been out of respect to my mother. I feel shame that I require teary reminders, tragedies, and events for a kick in the healthy arse, but so be it. This will motivate me and inspire me to be a better writer, person, and trainer.

Health issues

For years I've left the glossy mags to regurgitate the tight bum / bigger arms articles. In a Seinfeld way, my life has often dictated the topics that I write for Executive Style. Here we lean towards fitness, health, and lifestyle change messages: run harder, stay away from the hospital, and be happier, be healthy.

Yet the reality is this – obesity is causing us to become puppets with heartbeats fuelled by fizzy drinks, burgers, and prescriptions.

While tears fall onto my keyboard, I'm confident this will change my 2017 and beyond. I hope you'll grab my arm and fight with me – I need you as a buddy, and maybe you'll need to lean on me too.

As I'm writing this, Mum just called. I'm a total mess and can hardly babble a sentence. I need to be stronger for her. She declared she will beat this, and I'm to carry on with my fitness, writing, and travel. I cried harder. Tears turned into laughter as Mum said: "I am going to be fine Michael, and I'm even playing golf tomorrow morning."

Before doctors could schedule radiation, Mum has scheduled her next tee time. She's ready to fight the fight.

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