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Jul 2023

The journey to finding the new “norm”. We were now in a battle. With boxing gloves on, it was time to fight.

The journey to finding the new “norm”. We were now in a battle. With boxing gloves on, it was time to fight.

Greg, being a fit and healthy 50-year-old man, became concerned about a lingering cough. Without a GP (as he never got sick), he visited the local walk-in GP service. After a thorough check-over and multiple tests, Greg was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer connected to his exposure to asbestos as an apprentice in his teens.

The world could have opened up and swallowed us whole. Life as we knew it, would never be the same.

Our “norm” before his diagnosis was compressed with so much excitement and passion for life. We were working hard on our careers, making time for camping trips away, spending time with family and friends, cruising on the Harley on warm sunny Sundays through the hills, creating dinners together, curled up on the lounge in the evenings to watch a movie, working on his drag racing Holden Kingswood and trying to beat his best time down the quarter mile.

That “norm” soon changed. We were now in a battle. With boxing gloves on, it was time to fight.

Our life became a calendar full of treatment and doctors’ appointments, battling through the maze of information overload, constant conversations with family and friends providing them with the latest update. We were not going to take this battle lying down. Even though Greg’s prognosis was limited (12 months), we continued to move forward with our dreams, projects and ideas.

Selling our small little home for a large house and property not only provided us with the opportunity for me to care for Greg at home as his illness took over, but it also provided us with a lovely, peaceful garden for those quiet, self-reflection moments. Our new home was filled with a constant flow of people – family and friends visiting for a cuppa and chat, with some staying for days, trades to ensure the modifications for easy wheelchair and hoist access were completed, as well as the invaluable Silverchain palliative medical team – setting up a nurse’s station at our computer desk.

And then the “norm” after Greg’s passing – the silence, the house was suddenly empty – just me and my dog Rusty. The void of Greg’s physical presence, not hearing his voice or being able to physically embrace him was heart-wrenching. Friends and family reached out and provided offers of help, but I was numb. I didn’t know how they could help. I was still processing the last 22 months of Greg’s (our) journey.

With an estimated time of 12 months, we had tried to squeeze everything in, not really knowing if there would be enough time. The balance of living and enjoying life intertwined with trying to prolong it with treatment had been a juggling act.

Planning and having open discussions ahead of time was priceless. This not only gave Greg peace knowing that he had been heard, but it also gave me clarification and strength at the time I needed it the most. Making decisions about his palliative care and wishes for his ashes to be scattered at his favourite fishing spot, had all been discussed thus effortless to action.

I thank Greg wholeheartedly for his strength to discuss the inevitable, his teaching and all the loving memories.

My advice to anyone who going through this would be as the journey changes, embrace the “new norm”, stay strong to work through the fight / battle, and always try and find time for joy. No matter how small, celebrate and enjoy those precious moments. 

Lidia (wife)

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