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30 May

This book is written in honour of my beautiful son, Andrew. Acknowledging the journey he had taken, the toughest challenge of his life and he had come up a champion and a hero in our eyes, his parents. He had also become an inspiration to many who knew him, others who knew him well, and many who heard about him, and those who loved him, like his families overseas, his grandmother, uncles, aunties and cousins and friends.

There is no written manual guide or instructions specific for Andrew or us, to teach us how to deal with this tragedy. A tragedy far from our imagination, let alone happened to this young man. Apart from being slightly asthmatic when he was a baby, Andrew had been a very healthy young adolescent. Andrew did not smoke, drank occasionally socially when he came of age and preferred not to take any medications for even a headache. Rarely visited our general practitioner and not admitted as a patient in hospital for any length of time until this tragedy struck.

Suddenly this young man’s life was turned upside down. Everything changed. His dreams and aspirations were put on hold. How did Andrew feel? His resilience, stoicism, his pure courage spoke for itself. However how Andrew really felt could only be expressed from a similar standpoint from a writing of an inspirational testimonial of someone living with cancer. Not only had Andrew expressed how he felt, he took us on this cancer journey, taught and showed us what any parents would feel in this worst nightmare. This book revealed all aspects of an altered life of what he went through in his cancer journey. Excruciating, hurting pain deep within our hearts and spirits to see what he was going through. He should be out there in the world enjoying his youthful time, seeing and living life. Instead his life was spent nearly 7 months in hospital and many months of outpatients appointments throughout the 15 months of this tragedy. A prisoner of this invisible life threatening, gripping enemy called chondroblastic osteosarcoma. Andrew had neoadjuvant treatments, undergone major reconstructive surgeries to control the bone cancer spreading and potentially save his life. The experienced, amazing and professional treating experts in their relevant fields of expertise did their best and gave Andrew the best treatments available also travelled this very difficult and toughest journey with him till he passed away.

Did we see hurdles ahead of him? No, because Andrew was very resilient. However the world could be a tough playground for anyone that was ignorant or naïve about people’s disabilities. There would be many that would see the person, but there would also be some that would see the disabilities, not his abilities and talents. Nevertheless, I knew the inner strength and integrity that Andrew had. He would take on this new challenge, a hiccup that life had given him because he was very grounded and true to himself. That was his infinite courage.

We could see a bright future ahead for Andrew because there was a purpose in his destiny that this had happened. We believed in the universal power above stronger than any human could envisage and we trusted Andrew’s life would be fruitful, meaningful and rich. Although Andrew grew up open minded leaning towards atheism, life was revealing to him the magnificence of the greatest power of all, himself, and surely guided by the highest universal forces from above. His quest of religious and spiritual inquiry started to become more like an adventure of discovery, became profound when he discovered he had cancer.

Living and actively participating in his life to the fullest, inspite of his personal tragedy he was determined in maintaining his total independence, not confined or defined by his illness. Nevertheless Andrew knew he was on borrowed time which ultimately became very precious. In his own silent way he had already farewelled everyone from the trip to Malaysia to the last 4 weeks of his earthly journey. You could say that he had a part to play from the place where he wanted to leave this earthly school to the final farewell for him. He loved everything to be just right for what was important to him, a perfectionist and a creative artist.

One Response to Introduction to “Beyond Courage”

  1. Donna Ernst

    February 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Dear Chris,
    I have just read the excerpt from your book about your beautiful son. I found the link on Twitter and would very much live to read your book. My heart aches for you as I could identify with each and every word you wrote on those few pages. Your son passed the same year that mine was given that shocking, unbelievable diagnosis of Ewing’s Sarcoma, very close in nature to Osteosarcoma. I must admit, reading your words were so familiar and I felt them all the way through the core of my soul.
    My son also,went through grueling treatments and was only out of treatment a month before the pain returned but on the other side of his pelvic area. Although getting “clear scans” on 12-15-09, by 1-7-10 the cancer had spread throughout his body and bone marrow, with 13 tumors in his chest area alone. To make matters worse, the sarcoma “specialist” that had treated him the entire time left at the end of Dec to go,into the research area. She was supposed to have sent his case to a pediatric oncologist but his records weren’t properly sent ahead of time and the relapse occurred before time for his 3 month follow-up scans. It was a nightmare, but I don’t have to explain that to you.

    It still seems surreal that Brian is gone. I case in denial and shock for,the first 3 years, my mind just “numbed out” except for what I absolutely had to do. I went back to work,part-time, but I worked at the school where he attended but missed his entire senior year. The school and community rallied around him and us, but after he passed, it was as if “he lost, just shut up about it” was the attitude I was met with. By mid 2013, I had ,o idea what was happening but I was blind-sided by PTSD. I started re-living the constant trauma throughout his treatment. And, as you know, they are never ending. To this day I am fighting this along with a steep,decline in my physical health. I have spinal disease among many other things “inherited.” I now know I gave Brian the set-up for the defective gene that caused the chromosomal translocation and resulted in his cancer. I think these traumas will haunt me the rest of my life.

    I also was writing a book, but had to stop, not only because of my own health but emotional health as well. I’ve never been able to “catch-up” to myself due to the Post traumatic stress. It’s a vicious cycle between emotional and physical health, and knowing that should have been me, not him.

    Is it best to order the book,through you or is it available on Amazon? I wish I could’ve stayed in that “dazed, shock phase for the rest of my life. Reality is just too hard, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know,
    Bless you,
    Donna Ernst @caringcancermo3
    I can’t access Facebook. I lost my job at the beginning of 2014and was “hacked” shortly after, resulting in my identity stolen. Shortly after my son passed, an employee within the children’s hospital “sold” the records of deceased children (I know, does it get any lower than that). They may have gotten my info from there, I don’t know. And. So it goes…….

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