Looking back at the last decade of my life feels strange. What a rollercoaster
Let’s start with some of the events and why I’m happy to enter into this new decade
2010 – I was asked to reset a pub in Co Kildare part of a portfolio belong to an ex business partner. I had spent a few weeks sorting out the pubs accounts and then relaunched it. Even though my business specialists area is Transportation & Logistics but I enjoy change management. Good leadership is not limited to service or industry type, it is the ability to build a team and help them grow. It’s what I do and it’s what I love.
Took about two months to stabilise the pub and it was early April 2010. Anita was flying back to Manchester and we were in Dublin shopping for my Mum. I remember pulling up to a set of traffic lights outside Crown Paints, there was one car ahead of me. I’m an old school driver taught the hard way, always keeping a good space with the car in front. Anita and myself were having a laugh about a resent Man United match. I noticed the traffic lights change to green and released the hand break. Next I heard a massive bang, I can’t remember what happened next. But I pushed myself back off the steering wheel and looked at Anita. She was unconscious- head down been supported by the safety belt. I forced open the drivers door got out and pulled open the passenger door. I lifted Anita out of the car and placed her on the verge. Ambulances started arriving, with fire brigades and police. I looked at my car and it was destroyed- the back seat was right up on the drivers seat. Some idiot had been racing up the road and sending a text on his mobile- he failed to notice the traffic lights or the cars and rear ended us at 40mph. The force of the impact pushed us into the car in front. The firemen reckon that I reflexed on impact and hit the break, I don’t remember that but the impact to the car in front was minimal and luckily because there was a 6 month old baby in that car. Anita was carted off to A&E, I stayed at the accident site thinking I was okay only to collapse and end up next to Anita in A&E. 14 hours later I was released, whiplash and black & blue – not a scratch. Anita was kept in as she had a neck injury. And all because an idiot was using their mobile while driving.
Follow this I got a call from my so called business partner “head for Cork and liquidate the business. We have a new company ready to take over”.. it was the day after the crash. I went No, I need a few days to recover. Then I got “it has to be done now or I face paying redundancies & pending legal case so if you don’t I’ll get somebody else to do it” I knew who the somebody else was -an absolute idiot who would have destroyed the new business- anyway the new company was 95% in my name simply they couldn’t setup without me. So with complete knowledge of a pre organised liquidation I was sent to Cork the next day. And from this I saved the livelihoods of 12 people (the only reason why I agreed to this) and Speed Express Logistic was born on the 4th May 2010.
Between 2010 and late 2013 the business went from nothing to a turnover of 1.8 million a year. By 2013 I had 24 employees and a further 8 contractors. And we had planned expansion for 2014 with a further million Euro storage & logistics customer. In Nov 2012 Anita’s Dad had a massive heart attack which placed him in a coma and he passed away a few weeks later,
But in Nov 2013 I had to be admitted to hospital, I have had reoccurring kidney stones first diagnosed in 1992, the reoccurrence meant about 25 kidney stones every month. The first few stones were horrific but over the years my body & mind were capable of blocking out the pain. So on the rare occasion I needed medical intervention. I had known my urologist ( Urology, also known as genitourinary surgery, is the branch of medicine that focuses on surgical and medical diseases of the male and female urinary-tract system and the male reproductive organs.) since first diagnosed in 92. I was admitted to hospital and had a CT Scan pre operation. The operation is where they place a JJ Stent / ureteral stent, it is a thin tube inserted into the ureter to prevent or treat obstruction of the urine flow from the kidney. this is preformed under full anesthetic. Basically in on the Friday and home the next morning, the stent is removed 6 weeks later. I returned in Jan 2014 as an outpatient and had the stent removed. Before I get into 2014 let me go back a little… “pre JJ Stent I had a CT Scan” This scan was primarily to identify how many stones were blocking my left kidney, the urologist was only interested in that piece of information however the scan highlighted that lymph nodes in the surrounding area were enlarged and needed investigation. I only got a copy of the report in 2015 and when I quizzed the oncologist his answer was “I wasn’t asked in 2013 and even at that I would have viewed the lymph node size as okay based on a UTI (A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.) caused by the kidney issues…
2014 The year my life changed. I was diagnosed on 14th February 2014 with Stage 4 (IV) Hodgkins Lymphoma large B cell / liver and right lung. The attack was immense – multiple lymph node sites, liver, lungs, right neck, right eye and spleen. I underwent ABVD chemotherapy and followed with radiotherapy in Nov 2014. By the second week in Dec 2014 I was given 6 weeks to live. You can read all about this on my previous blogs.
2015 Into partial remission but I had reduced the business size in 2014 to make it more manageable. So I started to rebuild the business
2016 By March I was in remission but it was short lived. By Nov they hit the alarm bells. I was placed in a medical position that meant I had to give up my business. Trust is an incredibly understated word, one of the few people I trusted both in business and as a friend took this opportunity to backstab me. He had listened to the wrong people and formed the “opinion” that I would die within weeks. He should have listened to the person he had know for over 20 years – me.
2017 Started with been told “your of no further use to me” from the above. To entering back into a consultancy role but that ended abruptly in March 2017 when I formally relapsed and needed rescue treatment for Stage 4 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. In March 2017 my oncologist felt I had less than a 5% chance of surviving to my birthday in June 2017 – the second terminal diagnoses but ended with a fully successful stem cell transplant in July 2017 – July 2017 was the third terminal diagnoses but 100 days later I was placed in remission and classed as cancer clear.
2018 Following my initial remission in Nov 2017 I had to wait 3 months for the doctor’s to make it formal but under the condition that I did not return to full time employment for 6 months. We were over the moon with been placed in full remission but two days later I got a call from my Mums medical team that she was in serious trouble and two weeks later she passed away.
By Sept 2018 I was ready to return to the Transport Industry & I was deep in planning my own company again but this time without any partners. One of my contacts in Dublin called me when he heard I was looking to start a new business and suggested that he not only wanted to get involved but ideally wanted to employ me full time. The opportunity to join a national company the size of JMC was too good to pass so we agreed in Nov 2018 to open JMC Cork. I got a full clean bill of health from my oncologist in Dec to return to work. The only concerns were fatigue and my immune deficiency
2019 Restarted my working life on 2nd Jan, against establishing a new company we took over a local transport company. So apart from running a new business I was also involved in change management. For Jan & Feb I had weekly blood test. Towards the end of Feb my Red blood cell count was low and immune system was at zero. Fatigue was now a daily occurrence and attempts to regulate it failed. By the end of May the team wanted me on a 3 day working week but I dropped this to 4 days. My right eye gave trouble in June and July but we got that under control.
Everything seem manageable until the start of November when I got hit by a hemiplegic migraine. This knocked the wind out of me. The professor in charge of this made it absolutely clear that this was in no way related to Lymphoma. I ended up been signed off work for two weeks to allow for a new antidepressant medication to adjust, not that I was depressed but these tablets ease a person back. I was allowed return to work on the condition that I could not drive at night, it gets dark here at about 4pm. So I adjusted my working day and left emails and reports to do at home.
The business over the twelve months exceeded expectations. We created a great team in Cork and the business expanded with a considerable number of my old customers returning to me.
To finish off 2019 and the 10’s we have had a number of victims at various stages of Lymphoma been in contact. One of these in particular have been incredibly, they live in Australia and for the first time ever we went from email communication to a Skype call. 15,500klms away with a 10 hour time difference but it felt like we have known them years. I have only once highlighted another victim and that was Nuala back in Nov 2018 as I had her full authority to detail her experience. I hope to get approval from this couple in Australia after their Stem Cell Transplant later in January
But as I had said at the start this is a decade that has been an absolute rollercoaster possible more downs than ups. Both Anita & myself have lost so much and so many. But the absolute belief in bouncing back up to never stopping a fight is part of our life and using this to empower others is now a way of life for us. I wrote an article which include the words of My Way.
Regrets I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention
I live and fight by this. My interest in life now is to help and empower others as much as I can.
Here’s a summary of events
Car crash resulting in both of us been hospitalised
Closure of a 16 year old business
Launch of new business
Loss of Anitas Dad
Diagnosed 14th Feb 2014 Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 40
Biopsy to right neck Feb 2014
Bone marrow & Lumbar punch March 2014
P.E.T. Scan March 2014 (P.E.T. Number 1)
Diagnosed as Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma (Liver, Lungs & Eye)
Chemotherapy ABVD Commenced 13th March 2014 Ended 14th August 2014
P.E.T. Scan April 2014 (P.E.T. Number 2)
Declared Chemotherapy Steroid induced Diabetes May 2014
June 2014 Bleomycin (The B from ABVD) attacked my right lung
P.E.T. Scan Oct 2014 (P.E.T. Number 3)
Radiotherapy @ 40gml Grey to right side neck commenced Nov 2014 to Dec 2014
Given 6 weeks to live following Radiotherapy Dec 2014
Ultrasound Fine needle aspiration March 2015
P.E.T. Scan May 2015 (P.E.T. Number 4)
Tonsillectomy & Biopsies to throat July 2015
P.E.T. Scan Oct 2015 (P.E.T. Number 5)
P.E.T. Scan May 2016 (P.E.T. Number 6)
Biopsies to throat & base of tongue July 2016
P.E.T. Scan Oct 2016 (P.E.T. Number 7)
Declare Diabetes clear after nearly 18 months
Suspected Kidney failure Nov 2016 & new Lymphoma site to middle spine
P.E.T. Scan Feb 2017 (P.E.T. Number 8)
Biopsy to lower spine Lymph Nodes March 2017
Declared relapse both HLD & NHL urgent rescue procedures required
Stage 4 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma 8 weeks life expectancy
ICE Chemotherapy April to May 2017
P.E.T. Scan May 2017 (P.E.T. Number 9)
Stem Cell Harvest June 2017
BEAM Chemotherapy July 2017
Stem Cell Transplant July 13th 2017
December 2019 End of a decade
Looking back there is little I would change, life is a deck of cards and you can only work with the hand your dealt. I have been asked more than once would I undergo a Stem Cell Transplant again, I hope I never have to face that decision again but it I did then I would not hesitate.