Paragon Martial Arts - My Actions Become My World

What is your excuse?

Flying high

At the time of writing this I am on a totally different journey to the one I was on last year at this time.  Today’s journey begins on a train.  Last year however I was on my way down to the operating rooms again for my second set of brain surgery within a week.

I remember scrubbing myself down with the cleaning chemicals they gave me to get my body clean enough for an operationg.  Standard procedure but it was kind of funny to me at the time.

Just before I was taken off to surgery my Mum came into visit, I felt bad as she had gotten up very early to make it in before I went off to surgery to see me for a couple of minutes and then had to sit waiting for the next few hours.

As I was wheeled down to the operating room I was not scared or anxious, after all I had done this before.  The first time my main concern was I thought I was going to be kept awake for the operation and I had no idea how I was going to keep myself still for that long; staying still is not a skill I am very good at.  I was thinking maybe we could rig up some sort of treadmill or something so I could run.  I remember joking a lot with the doctors that morning.  I remember telling one of the doctors “See, you should have listened to me and put the hinges and a zip in like I said last time.”  I asked one of the team whether this time they could do what I refer to as “Pimp my brain”.  I thought they should put in some plexi glass and led lights instead so that when I went out I could have a light show for everyone.

Since then I have learnt to enjoy and be in every moment whether it be ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Its not always easy when it involves brain surgery or radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Even with the brain surgery I still managed to have some fun.  On the way back from the surgery I laughed and joked with the doctors and nurses.

But today it is much easier.  Today I feel like Peter Pan.  Today is a totally different adventure.  Today I get to go flying in a powered parachute.  I mean who is going to let a little thing like cancer get in the way of flying!

I love the freedom of flying.  I love the idea of doing something that we were not designed to do.  Flying proves to me that despite what many reasonable people may think, nothing is impossible.


This to me is what life is about.  Going beyond our limits to achieve amazing things.


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:

One year ago today

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:

“They are…”

The other day we ran an awesome karate birthday party for two of our students.  It was an awesome party and a heap of fun to teach however I was shocked to hear what came from one of the young kids very early on in the party.  In response to me asking if they liked rules initially everyone said they like them, the answer they thought they were meant to give.  But then I threw them a bit by saying I didn’t like rules and asked them again what they thought.  Several of them agreed they didn’t like them either, nothing unusual about that. But what really struck me was one particular comment.  The comment was “they are gay”  I don’t think the boy was over the age of 8.


I was shocked to hear an 8 year old boy use this term in such a derogatory and discriminative manner.  Many of my friends are gay and they are some of the nicest and most fun people I know.


Some of you will be just saying it is a figure of speech nothing to worry about but I see it as the beginning of a very slippery slope.


I ask that everyone stand up against it, stay away from discriminative speech.  Don’t let the people you associate with get away with it either.  Our speech becomes our thoughts as our thoughts become our speech.  Our thoughts control our behaviours and very soon we end up behaving in a discriminative manner.  Every person and animal has the right to live their life without fear of prejudice or harm.  Align your behaviours and attitudes with this right and you will create a much more positive world for all of us to live in.


This is true self-defence, this is protecting the people we care about, this is protecting our world!


Yes I have cancer but I’m still pretty feisty :P





Oh, and if you wondered what my response was…well I made it very clear he wasn’t to act in that manner ever again if he wanted to participate in the party.

More lessons from my kids

Today I was reminded of a very important lesson.  Today was the funeral of one of the girls I worked very closely with, she was almost 5 and a half years old.  I had the pleasure of working with her for four years.  And was lucky enough to have her teach me many lessons.

She was born facing several major issues.  Not the least losing her twin baby sister.  Her brain development was severely impacted.  She was unable to move or talk.  But after many months and years of working she started to smile and laugh, especially if you began drumming for her.

In this position would you feel you can change the world?  Neither did I.  But today I realised how much she had changed the world.  She had one very simple tool to interact with people, her smile.  Just by smiling she was able to change the life of each person that witnessed it.  When she laughed the whole room was filled with joy.

A young girl who had 5 and a half years with us had worked out that it didn’t matter the circumstances you were dealt, it didn’t matter how old or young you were and your own struggles did not matter.  She taught me to give everything I have, however much that is, and give it willingly even when you are facing your own major battles.

Hopefully spreading a very small part of your story will honour your memory and inspire so many more people to take this one simple step for making the world a better place, smile.  How much do you smile.  I often refer to this as your smileage.

Currently I am dealing with an aggressive brain tumour.  She has and will continue to inspire me to give everything that I have because very often it’s the small things that matter the most. 

(oh and if you think she is amazing you should meet her Mum)


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:

Loving what you do

Tonight marked my first time back teaching since Christmas 2011.  In that time I had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and had two sets of surgery to remove as much of it as possible.  5 days ago I finished 6 weeks of combined Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy – I’ll tell you all about that in a little bit, I still have a few weeks before the effects will start to wear off.

When I was younger I made the decision to follow my passion rather than follow the risk free path set out for me.  I was doing well at university, had fantastic contacts and heading toward a very lucrative job in engineering and design.  At this point I made the crazy decision to change my life and follow my passion.  I decided I wanted to love what I did, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working on something I wasn’t passionate about.  Luckily I had the support of some amazing people to whom I am massively grateful.

So I pushed “The Insane Courage Button” and started physiotherapy to learn more about the human body and started my karate school.  That crazy decision lead me to tonight, being able to do what I truly love to do.  Tonight was one of my main motivations to get me through the first two phases of treatment and will get me through the third.  Tonight I got back on the mats with the kids and had the time of my life!  All the poison that has gone into my body disappeared, tonight I got to do what I love, working with kids – teaching them that they can be a Superhero!  We laughed, we learned and we had fun.  I caught up with some of “my kids” who are fighting their own battles without a thought that it is actually a battle – one who learnt to crawl today and one who is proving the sceptics wrong everyday (Yep I am pretty proud of them!)  And for anyone who was there I am pretty certain you could see how much fun I was having.  It was written across my face.  The side effects from the treatment didn’t matter, the energy I received from doing what I love pushed it all aside.

What is it that you truly love to do?  What are you passionate about?  What is it that will drive you to push past any obstacle because you love what you do?  I learnt this lesson many years ago but really only learnt it today – a massive thank you to the kids for teaching me it.  Following your passion is one of the most important things you can do.  I can’t tell you how much I hope you too can push “The Insane Courage Button” for long enough for you to follow your passion too.  It will give you Superpowers.  Imagine what the world would be like if we all had superpowers! Imagine how you will feel following your passion.



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)

Zappy Zap

This post I began on my first day of radio and chemo. As you read through it you will understand why I didn’t end up posting it at the time.

From Wednesday February 8, 2012:
“Today I got zapped!  And realised that all the comic books had lied to me!  I did not mutate into a turtle with super awesome ninja skills, I did not develop spider powers and I can’t shoot laser beams from my eyes.  It’s a bit disappointing really.  Looks like I might have to find another way to fly.”

Written today:
I also began the chemotherapy treatment that same day.  The tumour had been causing a bit of fatigue and nausea so was feeling a bit sick already.  I tend to be quite positive but I have to admit the first day of Chemo and Radio was hard.  Within 3 hours of taking the chemotherapy I was vomiting.  I didn’t stop for between 6-8 hours.  Then spent the rest of the day in bed with a bucket close at hand.  It was not a great start to what I knew I had to go through for the next 6 weeks of my life.  At that point I could not see myself being able to handle 6 weeks at that level.  I realised this was a great chance to learn about persevering.  Just because I had been hit once and knocked down didn’t mean I was going to let it keep me down.  I wasn’t going to allow myself to be that weak.  This decision was made with head over the toilet bowl discovering that the handles they build into toilet bowls for carrying them are very helpful when vomiting!  And yes they do have handles!

The next day improved with some adjustments to the medications I was taking.  I still had the nausea but I was at least able to control the vomiting.  After a couple of days, I had it enough under control that I thought I could be up at karate for the Back to School Party. I had been really looking forward to it so I was going to really push to make sure I could go. I had already had the chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the morning.  So we packed a stack of plastic bags for the car ride (just in case) and managed to get myself ready to go.

I’ll tell you how the party went in the next post, it deserves a post on its own.


Yes I have cancer, but no it doesn’t mean my life is controlled by it

Follow my journey through brain surgery and more (like accessing some awesome resources) via

What’s that tee shirt?

This is written about the start of my radiotherapy and was from a few weeks ago.

The meeting of the minds was held on Tuesday February 7 2012.  All the surgeons, oncologists and radiotherapy specialists got together to discuss the cases that were a bit out of left field, the rare ones.  Mine was one of the features.  Since my cancer is rare it was decided that it would be good for the team to get together and discuss the latest research and any other treatment options.  I did not get to go to the meeting but I met up with the team after.  The Oncologists spoke to me about the process they decided on which we had previously spoken about as one of the options.  The treatment involves 6 weeks of combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  This would be followed up with 6 months of chemotherapy, one week every month. Naturally there will be lots of reviews along the way.

So basically they are poisoning my body.  I look at it like there are two strengths of cells in my body.  The cancer cells are weak and the normal cells are strong (normal cells have capes, cancer cells have no capes!).  So basically the poisons are strong enough to destroy the cancer cells but not so strong that the normal cells are destroyed.

This combined approach will have the best chance of getting rid of the cancer. There are several side effects to the whole process.  I am feeling very positive about the treatment and have very supportive family (biological and karate) and friends.  My plan is to try and stay as active as possible and keep as fit and strong as I possibly can.  Oh and of course to laugh as much as I possibly can and make as many people as I can laugh as well.

After my oncology appointment I went to visit the neurosurgeons.  They are really happy with how the surgery went and how I am healing up.  They also loved the tee shirt. I think we are going to have to go into mass production of the “It’s not brain surgery” tee shirts!  I got the ok to fly (but that has since been revoked) and do handstands but I am still not allowed to drive and am not allowed to go sky-diving.  They did say I ask the most random questions, but I don’t see how that is random, it is what is important to me.

We did learn an important lesson though.  We learnt that since surgery my memory is not so good.  So if you tell me to go to see the surgeons and then come back up to pick up my prescriptions, well I am only going to remember one of those instructions!  Needless to say, someone had to get on a train and go back and pick up some medication.


Yes I have cancer, but no it doesn’t mean my life is controlled by it!

Follow my journey through brain surgery and more (like accessing some awesome resources)

Fight for your Health!

As most of you know I have worked as a paediatric physiotherapist for at least 8 years.  I have a lot of experience in the medical field dealing with the frustrations that come when you see how something could be done so much better but an unimportant thing like money gets in the way.  Recently I have had some pretty major surgery and am currently going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  I have seen the health field from both sides of the fence.

Nurses are going to be there when you need them most. If you want them to be able to do the best job for you, then you need to support them now.

Please go to and show your support. Please share this with as many people as you can. We can make a difference!  Especially if we all stand up and say this isn’t good enough.  Please support our nurses!


Yes I have cancer, yes I am happy!

You can follow my journey and get some great resources here:


I’m sorry I have been absent for the last couple of weeks.  A lot has been happening and I will update you on that in some upcoming posts.  But very briefly…

I have begun radiotherapy and chemotherapy which has involved a lot of medical appointments and time.

I had another seizure which landed me back in hospital, but I scored a ride in an ambulance!  This has meant I have also had to have extra appointments.  I mean hey, if you are going to do something then you might as well do it properly and make sure you make it interesting for all those involved :)

More to follow shortly!  Hope you are all smiling making the most of every second.


Yes I have cancer, yes I am happy!

You can follow my journey and get some great resources here: