Joining a very special club

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

“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
that can circumvent hinder or control,
the firm resolve of a determined soul”

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox – American Journalist and Poet.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.

This week I sat up late with my wife planning our respective travel agendas for the balance of 2011. It was like a flashback to my former, pre-cancer life. And what used to be a chore was simply exhilarating.

Could I really be planning out my year around visits to exciting locations such as Bangkok, Orlando, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cannes and – most of all – New Zealand (for the Rugby World Cup)? Answer, yes.

As with many people of my generation, when I was growing up a cancer diagnosis was the fateful, foul kiss of death. Two of my aunties died of my form of cancer (stomach) and for me, like others, the synonymous association of the disease with death is hard to shrug off.

And yet that is precisely what you have to do. Sufferers and friends/family alike. Medical science has moved on light years. Cancer in many forms is beatable, and in almost all forms is treatable.

I said on the day of diagnosis that I would beat the disease and though my frame may have withered (I have lost two stone off my former 11 stone 7 pound, already distinctly non-All Blacks body but that will come back I am assured, post-treatment) and my mental strength been challenged and occasionally eroded, I still believe that.

You have to stare down this disease and simply get through the treatment, whatever it takes.

I have been helped greatly by industry members of the ‘cancer survivors’ club’, men like Ed Brennan of DFS, Rod Wiltshire (formerly of Alpha/Aldeasa US), Maurice Burke ex Aer Rianta International, Gary Chau of Tasa Meng and others. They tell me I can beat it, just as they did. And each offers me a salient lesson in how to be a good and better man post recovery.

As I write, I have six days of chemotherapy remaining. It sounds nothing. But each 24 hours – still riddled with nausea – seems like an eternity. Never, since the days of Henry Cooper and the-then Cassius Clay, was a count slower.

Today I escaped that nightmare via a hugely enjoyable lunch with an old time industry friend, Clive Carpenter, formerly of Hennessy and Camus Cognac respectively, and now running a thriving golf website business. I hadn’t seen Clive in many years but our lunch reminded me of the enduring strength of so many friendships forged in travel retail. They are for life.

Clive and Me_Small

[From left: Clive Carpenter, Martin Moodie, mystery woman]

Tonight, in his honour (well, ok, mainly for my pleasure, sorry Clive…) I am sipping on some delightful Camus Borderies XO, a bottle of which he kindly presented me with today. It is a long-time favourite tipple and a simply great Cognac, a drink that has given me much solace during the difficult nights of this protracted chemotherapy treatment. I am not sure the doctors prescribe Cognac for gastrectomy patients but Dr Moodie’s Antipodean clinic certainly does.

camus borderies

Sipping fine Cognac, planning exciting trips to see industry friends, even daring to dream of an All Blacks victory in the Rugby World Cup (yes, I know, chemotherapy produces delusion) – hey, there is life beyond cancer.

One in three of us will be hit by this ailment at some stage in our lives. If my experience is of any use to anyone, I suppose my key ‘finding’ is that one should acknowledge the brutality of the disease, confront the bully as best one can, accept the treatment (either or all of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery) as the magic bullet that previous generations never had (the side effects are often not as bad as feared), and simply hang in there.

Don’t be concerned about being ‘brave’ or ‘strong’. Take the dark days (there will be many) on the chin. Rouse yourself from the worst of them. Things get better. And many of us will ultimately join the cancer survivors’ club. I plan to apply for membership very soon.

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  • And the money from the memberships will go to “Hands in Hand for Haiti”, I guess?

    I suggest that you invite to this club not only the cancer survivors but also all their fans.

    You can be sure about the success of the Club!

    As you say so wisely, hang in there! Only 5 days left!

    Virginie