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OHBaby! Article

June 16, 2014 1 comment

After a three month publication cycle has finished, I am now free to post the article that I wrote in the OHBaby! magazine for their Autumn Issue.  What follows is the text from the article, and then a link to the PDF of the actual 5 page spread so that you can see the photos and the layout. The brief was along the idea of how to communicate family values to your children, with my particular circumstance adding a unique perspective on it.

Communicating and teaching your children your family values can be a challenge at the best of times; achieving this when you know it’s unlikely you will survive to your daughter’s first birthday seems next to impossible.

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer, and after surgery and chemotherapy, I relapsed and became terminal. My life trajectory seemed to be mapped out, shorter than anyone would ever hope for or expect. But, for reasons that remain a mystery to both me and the medical profession, I have continued to live, while knowing that at any moment, I am only a heartbeat away from finishing my journey in this life.

For my wife Hannah and I, the decision to have a child was complex; It was prompted by the desire to start a family and cautioned by the implications should we be successful. In the end, we knew we would never regret having a child but there was plenty of room for regret had we not even tried. It breaks my heart that bar the miraculous, I will miss most of my daughter’s childhood. I will not get to see her flourish as a person, and I will not be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. It is with that breaking heart that I will do my best to leave her a legacy of who I am. I may not be able to leave her with memories, but I can leave her with the values I embrace, so she can appreciate who her father is.

Dear Elise,

I cannot create a pithy saying or a three-word catch phrase to live by. Life, to me, seems far too complex to be abbreviated to such small word counts. Instead, I want to offer you a sense of identity, a sense of purpose, and an understanding of where you came from, so you can then determine where you will go. The world is your oyster, to make of it what you will. My hope is to give you the opportunity to be the best you can be.

Having said this, ultimately any principle or ideal must still be communicated in words or they remain in the realm of the ethereal, never having concrete relevance. To that end, here is an attempt to communicate to you what matters to your family – as words to live by, and hopefully words to die by.

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8.

As a family of faith, this verse expresses what matters most to us. Elise, we want to encourage you to live a life of mercy, justice and compassion. We want you to love others and to learn to put them first, especially those who are less fortunate than us. This is how you can make your mark on the world, by being part of the bigger picture of humanity, and this is how you can honour your loving God.

Read, learn and travel.

Read widely and never stop learning. Travel to both the developed and developing worlds. Ask questions, challenge the status quo, and discover that life in middle class New Zealand is only how the privileged 5% of the world lives. Your mum and I believe that with this privilege comes responsibility; to use our time, wealth and skills to help others. Our worldview, narrow or wide, is shaped by our upbringing and education. Reading, learning and travelling will broaden your horizons, develop an understanding of life and grow a respect for people of all faiths and ethnicities.

Pause, reflect, breathe.

Life will be busy but we should always take time to pause, to reflect, and to breathe; to look back on a journey past or ahead to a journey planned; to contemplate the complexities of politics or the simplicity of a plate of food. We hope you will learn to appreciate the small things, so you then can appreciate the larger things even more.

It’s okay to cry when you are sad, and rejoice when you are happy. Life will always be a contrasting kaleidoscope of experiences and emotions; taking time to drink them in gives perspective, wisdom, and an understanding of yourself and your place in this world.

Elise, I won’t be around to remind you to say please, thank you or sorry. Instead, I will try to leave a legacy that instils a sense of compassion and respect for others where pleasantries will naturally follow. I won’t always be able to comfort you when you’re sad, or reassure you when your confidence is low, but I hope you know that I will always be there for you, even when I am physically absent.

I hope that in knowing who your father was, you will be able to choose who you want to be…

You can see the PDF copy of the article by clicking here.

As an addendum, I am aware I haven’t posted many updates lately, but will plan some catching up in the next few weeks. Also, for those who do subscribe to the OHBaby Magazine, Hannah has written an informative piece on neonatal screening in the winter edition that went on sale today. 🙂

Until next time…

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Volcanic Eruption From Space

July 3, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a follow up to an earlier post here. These photos were taken from the international space station as it flew overhead of the eruption.

Categories: In the News, Interest Tags: , ,

Amazing volcano photo shows shock wave

June 25, 2009 1 comment

I found this on MSNBC.

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“The main plume appears to be a combination of brown ash and white steam, according to a NASA statement. The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance.

The surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption, scientists said.

An amazing new picture from space reveals a volcanic eruption in its earliest stage, with a huge plume of ash and steam billowing skyward and creating a shock wave in the atmosphere.

Sarychev Peak on Matua Island is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain, northeast of Japan.

The new photo was taken June 12 from the International Space Station. NASA says volcano researchers are excited about the picture “because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption.”

Read the rest of the article HERE

Categories: In the News, Interest Tags: , ,

More than one drink daily increases bowel cancer risk

June 3, 2009 1 comment

This article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald. Click here to see the original article.

“Having more than one alcoholic drink a day is enough to dramatically increase your bowel cancer risk, Australian research shows.

Smoking, obesity, diabetes and eating large amounts of meat also push up the risk of developing the aggressive cancer, which claims 4,000 lives across the country every year.

Researchers analysed more than 100 international studies going back to the 1960s, to determine the colorectal cancer risk attached to key parts of the Australian lifestyle.

“It’s the first definitive study to quantify the role of lifestyle … on the risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said Associate Professor Rachel Huxley, of Sydney’s The George Institute.

“People who eat the highest amount of red and processed meat have about 20 per cent greater risk of developing the cancer than those who don’t eat meat.

“It’s similar with obesity: if you are obese your risk is about 20 per cent higher compared to normal weight individuals.

“But for alcohol we found that the risk was 60 per cent, and what’s classified as the highest intake isn’t very much.” Read more…

Cancer patient held at airport for missing fingerprint

May 29, 2009 2 comments

From Reuters: This is the same medication (Capecitabine) that I’m on!!!.. and my fingerprints are slowly disappearing as well! Better not fly into the states anytime soon I guess.

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Singapore cancer patient was held for four hours by immigration officials in the United States when they could not detect his fingerprints — which had apparently disappeared because of a drug he was taking.

The incident, highlighted in the Annals of Oncology, was reported by the patient’s doctor, Tan Eng Huat, who advised cancer patients taking this drug to carry a doctor’s letter when traveling to the United States.

The drug, capecitabine, is commonly used to treat cancers in the head and neck, breast, stomach and colorectum.

One side-effect is chronic inflammation of the palms or soles of the feet and the skin can peel, bleed and develop ulcers or blisters — or what is known as hand-foot syndrome.

“This can give rise to eradication of fingerprints with time,” explained Tan, senior consultant in the medical oncology department at Singapore’s National Cancer Center.

The patient, a 62-year-old man, had head and neck cancer that had spread but responded well to chemotherapy. To prevent the cancer from recurring, he was put on capecitabine.

“In December 2008, after more than three years of capecitabine, he went to the United States to visit his relatives,” Tan wrote.

“He was detained at the airport customs for four hours because the immigration officers could not detect his fingerprints. He was allowed to enter after the custom officers were satisfied that he was not a security threat.”

Tan said the loss of fingerprints is not described in the packaging of the drug, although chronic inflammation of the palms and soles of feet is included.

“The topmost layer … is the layer that accounts for the fingerprint, that (losing that top layer) is all it takes (to lose a fingerprint),” Tan told Reuters.

“Theoretically, if you stop the drug, it will grow back but details are scanty. No one knows the frequency of this occurrence among patients taking this drug and nobody knows how long a person must be on this drug before the loss of fingerprints.”

NZer Killed in Brunei

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment

This is from NZHerald.co.nz: Summary – A 47 year old recent breast cancer surviver is killed whist riding her bike. What is the more interesting idea to this article is that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or be killed in a car accident.

Does it therefore make it more ironic when you are trying to so hard to preserve your life through battling cancer with chemotherapy? I guess we all could go at any time from any unsuspecting accident, and accidents don’t discriminate over past medical history.

“A Kiwi mother killed in a hit-and-run in Brunei survived breast cancer and was due to fly back to New Zealand this week.

Lee Jefford, 47, was cycling along an expressway in Lambak Kanan on Monday when a car hit her from behind.

She was rushed to hospital but died of her injuries without regaining conciousness.

Her husband Mike Jefford, a pilot with Royal Brunei Airlines, was told when he landed a flight from Saudi Arabia on Monday night.

“We’d been on the ground for about two minutes when my best mate came on board and said ‘come with me’,” he said.

“He walked me out through the terminal to my son [12-year-old Connor] and that’s when he told me what had happened.”

Mike was taken straight to the hospital but Lee had already died.

The couple moved to Brunei about 10 years ago when Mike took a job with the airline.

Lee was cycling with a friend when she was hit. The woman told the Brunei Times newspaper she was behind Lee, who was wearing a helmet, when a car sped past and hit her.

Lee was thrown from her bike and over roadside railings into bushes. The car did not stop or even slow down.

Lee’s parents Annie and Bryan Sharp flew to Brunei immediately.

The airline paid to bring Lee’s body home this week.

Mike said Lee had been due to fly to Auckland on Friday to have a check up with her cancer specialist. She had breast cancer 2 years ago and fought hard to beat it.

“She fought the cancer really well and then some mad driver kills her,” said Mike.

Brunei police say they have found the car that hit her.”

Categories: In the News, Interest Tags: , ,

How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a really interesting article from Time.com. It’s an interesting insight into where all this piracy has come from, and the fact that it it is really the creation of the rest of the world’s own greed in Somali waters. Of course, it does not excuse the piracy that is going on at the moment, but it does mean that the west has to take responsibility for creating the industry, rather than complain about being a victim of it.somalia_fishing_0417jpg

Amid the current media frenzy about Somali pirates, it’s hard not to imagine them as characters in some dystopian Horn of Africa version of Waterworld. We see wily corsairs in ragged clothing swarming out of their elusive mother ships, chewing narcotic khat while thumbing GPS phones and grappling hooks. They are not desperate bandits, experts say, rather savvy opportunists in the most lawless corner of the planet. But the pirates have never been the only ones exploiting the vulnerabilities of this troubled failed state – and are, in part, a product of the rest of the world’s neglect.

Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia’s last functional government in 1991, the country’s 3,330 km (2,000 miles) of coastline – the longest in continental Africa – has been pillaged by foreign vessels. A United Nations report in 2006 said that, in the absence of the country’s at one time serviceable coastguard, Somali waters have become the site of an international “free for all,” with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somali stocks and freezing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. According to another U.N. report, an estimated $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from the country’s coastline each year. “In any context,” says Gustavo Carvalho, a London-based researcher with Global Witness, an environmental NGO, “that is a staggering sum.” Read more…

Categories: In the News, Interest Tags: , ,