Iain. Friend. Chef. Bloody Legend.
They’ve all fought their fight against cancer. Cheryl survived her mastectomy, but follows a lifetime of vigilance. Trish is not out of the woods yet. Not by a long chalk.
I don’t care what your experiences of it have been. My truth is that most of the people in my life who were diagnosed with it don’t make it. Or, put another way, most make it the first time around, but not after the second. Or the third. It’s a wretched illness, a vicious, bastard of a disease. It gives you false hope by hiding away, blinding you in a fog of delusion that you’re over the worst of it, will live to see another year, another birth, another 21st, a wedding.
But most do not make it.
Iain’s brother Barry died last year. You know Iain of course, because he’s an awesome friend and a superb cook and he’s given you huge enjoyment because of this recipe for chilli, or this one for onion jam. He lives in Melbourne but his brother and family live in New Zealand.
When loved ones are at a distance to you they can hide in plain sight. Over phone calls and Skype sessions, they can fob off the worst of it, evade your concerned questions, make a joke, hide away the pain, their atrophying body, the gasping, wheezing breath. They smile and do their best to make sure it goes all the way to their eyes.
They don’t want to worry you so they don’t drop their guard. They tell themselves that you are doing it tough so you don’t need the stress of knowing because it’s hard for you to visit, what with distance and busy lives.
So when we finally do walk into the room and see for ourselves with brutal realism that they, the sick, have been lying to us, the healthy, our response can be primal. I’ll never forget the fury I felt that I had been duped by a loving parent who didn’t want me to worry. It didn’t stop the need to do something, the need that we, who are about to be left behind, have to help out, to be of use, to do what we can to take the pain away.
And that yearning to be of some use doesn’t go away with death.
Barry died last year just eight short months after he got married. He died after Iain made a couple of visits to see him and after all the goodbyes had been said and peace had been made, if not with a bastard illness than at least with the life he had led. Iain mourned and grieved and inked his brother’s name into his forearm and then confronted his own mortality and decided to fight the good fight in his name.
Iain is going to take part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in aid of the Peter McCallum Centre on the 28th and 29th October. And by taking part, I mean cycling over two days and for more than 200 kms. He has been in training most of the year. He’s lost 20 kgs since this pic was taken. He’s going to the gym in the dark cold mornings just to keep up his fitness until the weather turns kinder. That’s HUGE dedication.
He is my friend and I would never want to embarrass the man but in the arc of cycling prowess between Couch Potato and Cadel Evans, Iain would be the first to tell you he rates towards spud status more than most. Which is why you should sponsor him just for giving me permission to post this photo.
So now, I’m asking you for money. I don’t want it for myself. I want you to re-pay Iain for his kindness to this blog and to me as a friend and I want you to repay him for the dedication and love and endurance he’s shown in honouring the memory of his brother.
Because it’s not just his loved one. It’s ours. It’s yours. It’s 1 in every 2 Australians who will have to fight this bastard illness. It’s all our fight sooner or later. And I would rather cycle towards a cure than continue living complacently in a world where you and your family could go through one day of pain and anger like Iain and I have had to endure.
Even if you can’t give much leave a comment on Iain’s blog (it’s there on the link) and tell him what a bloody legend he is.
Iain wants to raise $2500 by the time he rides. He’s only got a few hundred to go but I would LOVE it if we could knock it out of the park and send a message of support and love and hope so far into the stratosphere that Barry and Dad and Aunty Jan, Maree, Ian my boss, Jim, Tim’s brother and all the others who YOU know and love could see it from afar. This matters. Please give.