EVEN WHEN YOU’VE HIT ROCK BOTTOM,
YOU CAN STILL COME OUT ON TOP
I was 2.5yrs of age when my parents discovered that I had a kidney tumour. Every parent’s worst nightmare, right? Little did we know then, how much my life would change forever.
Everything from this point was a challenge. We discovered pretty quickly that I was going to be attached to hospitals, doctors and nurses, for life. Chemotherapy thank goodness was a success wiping out my tumour, although the consequences were that I would lose a kidney, my hearing and approach heart failure at some point down the track.
I somewhat had my life back after this 1st battle, and like most kids I enjoyed school and playing sport. I became a swimmer and competed for my school and my swimming club and won quite regularly. I enjoyed competing against my brother in our backyard pool but I don’t remember having much success, ha!
We made the life change and migrated from South Africa in the late 90’s and in 1999 (at age 13) my health went downhill to the point where I was physically unable to do some of the most basic of tasks (such as climbing stairs) and I would be cold and blue even on the hottest of Australian days.
I was faced with the harsh reality of needing to go on a transplant list for a new heart. This was my one shot of living a life. A year later aged 14, my body deteriorated severely. I was sick with pneumonia which resulted in being hospitalised and bed ridden for 3 months straight. From then my life had its ups and downs of recovery and sickness cycles, a new norm.
“At 15 years of age I found myself in hospital (my new home) on my deathbed with not much longer to live.”
One night at around 2am my parent’s beeper went off saying a heart had become available.
I distinctly remember this night, my dad waking me up and saying “Paul, you’re going to Melbourne. A heart has arrived” to which my response was “You’re joking”. My dad said, “why would I joke about that?”. Everything from there was blur of disbelief.
Was my life really going to change?
I vividly remember being driven by my uncle through every red light to the airport where I boarded a jet to Melbourne. A heart can only be kept viable for transplantation for 6 hours so you can imagine how fast this process had to happen.
Next thing, I’ve woken up feeling alive, relieved, and with so much more colour. I was grateful for another chance of life. Laying there mapping out my future is where I began thinking about my zest for life and my love of sport and being active. This is where my passion for health, fitness and performance truly began.
I finished school, travelled the world (last count I have been to 23 countries and 57 cities) and completed a bachelor’s in applied science (Sport and Exercise Science). I got myself back into a healthy lifestyle, trained at a gym, played sport, travelled outback with 4×4’ing (yes I’m a bogan at heart) and even took up Olympic lifting competitively.
I needed to make the most of my second (or even third) chance at life and prove to myself that no matter how hard the fall, I could always make my way back to the top and beyond.
I opened 360 Strength and Performance on the Northern Beaches in 2014 with the hopes of inspiring others that even when you’ve hit rock bottom, you can still come out on top. I really don’t talk much about my health issues as I don’t want to use them as an excuse or reason as to why I can’t do things.
““I truly believe if you want something bad enough,
you will persevere to achieve any goal.”
If I was to use any word that defines my life and me, it would be “perseverance”. With a little bit of perseverance, you can get through the worst of storms and still become the best athlete in your game!
I’ve grown the 360 Strength and Performance gym into a community that inspires athletes to persevere and achieve their own personal success. My members come because they know I am passionate about driving them to achieve results and dominate in their life and in their sport.
To finish off the story, I had a heart attack recently in April 2019 and had a stent put in. I almost had a second heart attack in March 2020 and had another stent put in. I am still standing and still persevering. I am training to complete the bronze medallion for the surf life saving club and will go back to Olympic lifting in 2021.
What will you persevere to achieve in your life?
Paul will be divulging his secrets on how anyone can find their ‘power of perseverance’ at the 2022 Thriving Workplace event coming up in February!