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  • Brendan Foley

Never Let a Tragedy Define Your Life

Since posting my first blog a fortnight ago, I didn't expect the reaction and result I would get. Words like 'Inspiration', 'True Hero' and 'Fighter' were thrown around and comments like 'Keep fighting', 'You are strong' and 'Never give up'. Thats how people see me but myself... how do I see myself as I continue on my road with my chronic illness.


I go back many years, I just came back from working overseas, in America were I decided to take on the challenge and do some work in a summer camp. 3 months abroad working within a Disabilities Camp. I knew nothing about disabilities. But what in incredible and amazing 3 months it was. so good I went back and did it all again the following year. When I returned back to Australia, it was time I found myself a career.... so what better, take up working in disability. So off I went, applied to a few companies and before I knew it, I had casual work. Then became permanent. I moved around doing all different things with all different kinds of disabilities. Then I found myself enjoying it so much.


I was enjoying it so much, that I wanted to expand my abilities and climb the ladder in the world of disabilities. And so I did the work. I worked as a support worker. After I worked harder then ever, I was rewarded, I became a program facilitator. I ran a program. I saw improvement within the members of the organisation and improvement in myself. I worked so hard, I was ready to take the next step. Become a co ordinator. However thats where the story cuts short. Life changed, I was hit with what now has changed my life.


Cut to my earliest memory of my recovery after my major surgery. I slightly remember being in ICU, just coming off the heavy painkillers and I remember the physiotherapist, wanted me to get up and try walking. I was high on painkillers, in so much pain, the physio said, lets just walk about 20 meters up the room and we can turn around. we got 20 meters and just ask the physio was about to tell me to turn around. I said, 'Lets keep walking' and so we did. We walked some more and we walked some more. We walked so much, I exhausted myself, but I made it back to my bed.


What Im getting at is, I have been working my whole life, not giving up to what I wanted. What I didn’t understand is by being determined to chase something, to being committed to it, committed to standing true what you said you were going to do long after you said you were going to do it. I will never let a circumstance or situation define my life. People think commitment is quote you say “yes I’ll do it” days after when you feel good. But its more, I'll commit and do it now, no matter the situation.


Fast forward to mid this year, I was fortunate and privileged to coach a bunch of amazing, incredible and talented blokes in what was probably the most successful season that grade team has seen in years of rugby within the club. Before the season, we agreed, the process of the season is as a team we play as a team, we stand as one. Then we set the goal, we make finals. While we missed the finals by one game. The feeling was hurt, the boys were hurt, I was hurt. However, these boys showed me something. They held their heads high, they showed their hearts on their sleeve and it showed me the process is more important then the product. It wasn’t about the outcome of our goal, it was about set out to achieve. The process is more important than the goal.


Never once during the 5 years since I have been diagnosed with any of my cancer have I asked myself "Why did this have to happen to me" but I have more felt like why not me. There is a lot of people in the world, wounded and you can’t see it... its enternal and so the opportunity we have to be a blessing to other people, we can save their lives with one encounter. We have one life to live. Just one chance to live it.


So I go back to the comments left on my previous blog about being a true hero, a fighter etc and I really don't see myself as all those. Because life has trained to be this person, to commit to everything and anything I do. To commit to the process, rather then the product. A great rugby coach once told me, "Make sure whatever you start, you make sure you finish it" and that stuck with me all throughout my recovery, my coaching, my journey.


I wake up every morning knowing I have a little boy depending on me, I have a wife depending on me, friends and family depending on me. While their are people out there wanting a little extra money to get motivated, a little bonus to get motivated. I don’t need nothing breathe in my body and life.


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