A fateful roll of the dice

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Two men. Two fates. Two vividly contrasting sets of emotions.

This week I underwent a medical procedure known as an endoscopy, a miracle of modern science in which a camera is fed down your throat complete with forceps to photograph and if necessary biopsy a particular organ. All that’s missing is Steven Spielberg directing and Hugh Laurie starring as the doctor.

It’s not the most pleasant of experiences but what my anaesthetist referred to as a “gentle gin and tonic, followed by something stronger” [Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I blearily requested] did the trick and I was blissfully unaware of what ensued.

After I came round the Doctor who conducted the procedure explained to me what he had seen, and taken. He was kind but pragmatic in his terminology. My stomach tumour had shrunk “significantly” he said, adding, “That’s good news.”

I asked him about the next step in my treatment – an operation planned for October. To my surprise, he told me they would be removing my whole stomach as well as my spleen. I expressed some disappointment, saying I thought the operation would only involve partial removal.

Patiently he explained that the procedure (known as a gastrectomy) was necessary because my surgery was “curative”. I hadn’t heard any word related to ‘cure’ since I had been diagnosed, so this was music to my ears. A whole symphony in fact. I could have kissed him. Maybe next time I will.

I learned that they build you a new stomach to replace the old one. It’s smaller, like a pouch. From a Kiwi, I am turning into a kangaroo! One apparently eats less in volume at any sitting, but more frequently. A grazing kangaroo if you like. If you see me hopping around trade shows in future, you’ll know why.

But the point of this story and the full resonance of the word ‘curative’ were to emerge as I sat in my bed recovering from the anaesthetic before I was allowed home. The man in the next bed to me (an upbeat fellow of similar age who I had met several times during hospital chemotherapy sessions) emerged from his own endoscopy and lay there talking to his wife.

The specialist arrived to talk to them. This time the message was very different. The tumour had not shrunk, and there was too much scar tissue to operate. “What does that mean, palliative care?” asked the man of the doctor. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

It was, no doubt, a shattering moment for him and his wife. Palliative care (from the Latin palliare, to cloak) is any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt or cure it. Put more bluntly, he was dying.

Two men with two very different messages that night to their loved ones. Why had the dice rolled right for me and badly for him? Is it fate? Something greater? Explain this to me if you can.

Such a literal life or death situation is about as humbling an experience as you can have. It makes you breathe in the life around you in great big thankful gulps and realise just how wonderful each day on this planet is. Don’t lose a day, don’t forget to be good to people and to reach back to those who reach out to you. Life is rich. It is also short, sometimes brutally, painfully short.

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  • Dear Martin,
    These are the good news we faithfully knew would come from you! I am so so happy for you and your family. As Jean-Michel says it, words do not always reflect all the feelings you would like them to convey, specifically when you do not master the language… Just know and be sure that we are all with you in this long travel to the sunlight.
    Keep your positive and winning spirit and as you say, enjoy every single minute of your life.
    Warmest regards
    Virginie

  • Dear Martin,

    Since the age of 50 (I’m now 55) I undergo once a year a medical checkup that consists of blood test, stress test, ultrasound (stomach, kidney, bladder, prostate…), bone density test…

    For the 2nd time the lab detected a bacteria quite common in Asia known as “helicobacter pylori”. Three years ago when I 1st tested positive I took some medication and was “clean” till I recently tested positive again.

    This year I took no chance when the doctor suggested the endoscopy to be done, which you described rather well, so I won’t paraphrase.

    Surprisingly the biopsy results were negative and the doctor commented I have a “positive helicobacter pylori serology”. He even gave me the VCD and I must say I look pretty clean from the inside.

    I’ll have you in my prayers and like what Chris Orphanou wrote “keep faith”.

    If you ever pass by Malaysia I’d be glad to have a drink with you, even if it meant going all the way to KLIA.

    Kind regards,
    Geoffroy

  • Dear Martin,

    Shocked to hear of your news and what you were put through. Let me wish you the very best for a speedy recovery and keep faith.

    As a fellow professional, and someone who not long ago lost someone very dear, let me say it with terminology of our industry…. ‘we all have an expiry date but yours is a long way away’…. Be strong, take care and enjoy life.

    With every good wish,

    Chris

  • Dear Martin,
    I read your story with great emotion and I am so glad yours is the path to a cure…!
    I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.
    Be well and I look forward to seeing you “hopping” around in Cannes.
    With all my best,
    Cedric

  • Dear Martin,

    We really missed you at the recent Asutil conference…..while some of the presentations were boring (I feel I have the right to criticism as one of the founding members of the group), a few were really exciting, – and its always a pleasure to visit Puerto Rico.

    The point is, I expect to see you at the next Asutil conference: as a Kiwi, a “kangaroo” or as a news reporter – or even better, as all 3 and more.

    Get well soon!

    Best Regards,
    George and Katrin Sternberg

  • Dear Martin,

    It is the best news of the week!

    I am so happy that you seem to get out of the tunnel pretty soon now, even if you have to let two “guaranteed genuine spare parts” in the tunnel! (:-))

    Until now I have to confess that I postponed almost every week to write to you to express all the sympathy I am feeling for you, as I don’t master enough the English tongue to tell it with my real deep emotion behind the words.

    Indeed, I read so many warm and strong good words that were expressed to you by your friends from all over the planet that I felt that mine would be too poor to bring you some strength and solace for your fight against this bloody illness.

    Now, I feel more comfortable to tell you that I prayed for your recovery and now I am looking forward to seeing you very soon, as you put it, hopping around at trade shows!

    Yes, life is short, so, please, Martin, Carpe Diem as much as you can!

    I hope to see you in Cannes in full good health!

    Warmest regards.

    Jean-Michel

  • Great to hear the news Martin…I think about you and your family a lot..
    I hope the other couple can make the most of what they have…and hang onto the good times..

    As you say, live for the day enjoy every moment, let the bad times fade in the background and enjoy your family and friends..
    good luck and big hugs
    Jeannie