I was sad and numb to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs earlier this month. He was the creative genius behind Apple computers, the iPhone, iPads and many other computing advances.

I am sad to lose a true hero, I am sad cancer had taken yet another person I look up to. Fuck you, cancer. If you were human, I’d beat you up.

When I am not working as a family doctor, I work with a children’s cancer charity Camp Quality. This amazing organisation helps bring fun, laughter and support into the lives of kids living with cancer as well as care, respite and financial support for the families of those same kids.

Two to three times every year, I have the pleasure of taking a week away from my regular work and spending time with an amazing group of kids and adults, all whose main purpose in life is to improve the quality of life for people who are doing it tough.

It’s hard work at times, but man, it’s worth it. Take my most recent camp, for example.

You can imagine that organising medical care for more than 100 people can be a big task. There is researching the individuals’ health problems, preparing for potential problems, making sure the three nurses and I are up to speed with the kids we will be looking after.

Other important issues like making sure there are enough lollies to sink a ship, ensuring my costume for the dance was “just right”, and liaising with parents worried about recent flu epidemics certainly make for a busy week beforehand.

Fate being fate, I managed to not only put my back out two days before camp, but the day before I managed to rip my head open on the edge of my car boot. Not a happy chappy.

Three hours in a hospital emergency department and eight staples in the head later, I was home again, frantically running around doing my final preparations for camp.

There were times I honestly thought yes, it was too much, I wanted to phone in and say, “Look, I can’t make it”, but I would look at the many treasured photos on my iPhone that remind me exactly why I joined the team at Camp Quality in the first place.

Take my good mate Dave.

Dave and I were preparing for our turn on a giant swing. Strapped tightly to my chest, I don’t know which was more frightening, my fear of heights or the thought that Dave might get hurt.

Living with multiple medical conditions, Dave weighs in at a slight 18kg. He has significant physical and developmental delays and an immune system that leaves him open for any infection that may be going around at the time.

He’s now 13 and I have wept many times looking after him. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried wondering, “Will this be his last camp?”

Despite everything Dave keeps on going.

He has a wicked sense of humour, he’s remarkably chummy with a female mate and I have never seen a kid his size clear a plate at the speed he does!

Dave has his ups and downs but my inner protection mechanism is so strong for this child, he will live forever in my heart, well after his body has failed him.

At each camp is another special person — the companion.

Each companion is a carefully chosen adult who takes a week of their life to spend time in a one-on-one role with a camper. Each companion has his/her own story. Many have had a relative who has had cancer, some have lost someone close, a few have had their own journey with cancer.

In a perfect world cancer would never exist. “Cancer would get cancer and die.”

Heroes like Dave and Steve Jobs would be able to enjoy life without the burden of a body that refuses to cooperate. While sadly that is not the case we can live in the light of their courage and learn from their inspiring acts.

To quote Steve Jobs:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

If you had nothing to lose, what would you do today? Lead with your heart, you would be amazed at what you can achieve.

By DR GEORGE FORGAN-SMITH
General Practitioner

An excerpt from thehealthybear.com

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