I Nearly Died Last Year

The next job is to get back into the swing. It’s a work in process.

Most importantly, I want to thank Jax who seamlessly moved into the role of Project Manager as she marshaled the forces of both long-time and newfound friends (some we hadn’t known for more than a few months). All of them rose to the cause – taking it in turns to drive me to – and back – from the hospital for my daily radio treatment, cooking high protein foods that I could eat, assembling a medicine table that was mission control for the drug regime I was about to be part of, calling me, texting me – doing what they could to keep my mind focussed on the future. In short anything and everything that they could do, to take the pressure off Jax.

Today, Jax remains at my side. She still pushes me to make sure I do the right things. Have I taken all my pills, THC and CBD.? Have I eaten enough protein? Have I used saltwater to rinse my mouth the requisite 4 times a day? Did I? Have I? Will I?  Even now I can barely keep up with the routine I am meant to practice – much less when I was going through treatment and lying in bed or on a chair like a vegetable.

And with all of that, she has once more climbed back into the saddle and is working with people and companies to fight the good fight. Even as I sleep at night she is downstairs on calls with the people in the UK, Poland, and Ukraine as they continue the fight against traffickers that are crawling around the Ukraine/Polish border luring unsuspecting people into their lairs.

For me, it is not just hope. My doctors are very positive about the prognosis. Slowly but surely I am coming back online. A hill I wouldn’t even think of walking up 6 months ago is now part of my daily routine. My mind whilst not completely free of ‘chemo fog’ has improved by orders of magnitude. My blog, podcast, and newsletter are all moving … albeit slowly … back to a regular cadence.

Next job. Create the opportunities. Refill the coffers. The last two years have taken a toll on every aspect of our lives, but I feel good about the possibilities. People First, has been my umbrella mission for the last 6 years and remains at the core of my new life. But now with renewed focus, vigour, and most important action.

I look forward to finally making it all real, not just through awareness and understanding – but action.

To paraphrase something I wrote just recently ….

It is important to understand the ‘WE’ not the ‘ME’ – and it is essential that the outcome is not just ‘understanding’ – but action.


Twenty Years into Two

Every new year, I come up with the three words that represent my ‘north star’ for the year. The words this year were: clear, closer, choice.

Four months later, they still hold – but another set of three words (all coincidentally ‘c’ words) have arrived in my mind.2020 was our year of COVID.2021 was our year of Cancer.2022 will be our year of Creation .. a year to create opportunity.

To say that the past two years have been hard would not be an understatement. Cancer by itself is not an ‘easy’ disease. What I didn’t share in the main story is that we arrived in New Zealand for 100 days in December 2019. As COVID started to emerge we delayed our return. Then as it really took hold our flights were simply cancelled as countries around the world locked down and closed borders.

If COVID slowed us down, the Cancer diagnosis stopped us in our tracks. All income ground to a halt. Our expenses ballooned, since we were essentially maintaining a life in the US (along with the associated expenses) while having a ‘parallel life’ here in New Zealand. And none of that accounts for the massive healthcare bills. Everything had to come out of our savings.

Time to start again.

Dennis will tell you that I have been noodling this article for a few months now, somehow it never was the right time. I’m glad I didn’t because the final copy is radically different from those first few drafts. Now it is right and what better time to publish than Easter which is surely about ‘new beginnings’, this year all the more powerful as there is a rare overlap with Passover and Ramadan.

In the early days of my treatment my radiologist Pepe told me to ‘keep my sails up’.

The wind of opportunity might be changing – but hasn’t gone. If the sails are down – you won’t catch the new wind.


New wind. New beginnings. New opportunities.

So Many Thanks …

… and definitely in no particular order …

Ramsey and Scott. Steve and Bernie. Noah and Lauren. Martin and Ewelina. Jason and Jo. Sarah. All physically with us throughout the journey. Always helping. Always asking what more could they do.

Nix and Tosh who travelled hundreds of miles to be with us, just to help take the pressure off Jax by cooking and freezing nutritious food, Nix taking Jax out – while Tosh ‘kept an eye on me’.

Bob, Graham, Stuart, Daniel, Pete … and so many more friends around the world who called, mailed, and texted with positive words of support.

Robin and Bex and two-year-old – Aurora – calling me on Facetime.

Rikki, my daughter Joanna and Granddaughters Isla-Mae and Everly  – living on the other side of the world doing the same, sending photographs, videos, and messages of love reminding me why we are here.

Long time friend of Jax’s – Kate who ran errands and made soup.

The healthcare professionals  … Ilya who diagnosed me and accelerated me into a program, Pepe my radiologist who built the plan and worked with spatial physicists to calculate just the right amount of radiation that should be blasted at me, where, at what angle, for how long – over and over every day. Osama, John, Philip, Rowan (who made my transfusions fun), the ambulance drivers who didn’t just take me there and back – but waited with Jax to give her support. All the other doctors and nurses who give their lives to this kind of work. My physical therapist, speech therapist, and nutritionist Katie who told me that Tequila would be the first alcoholic drink I would be able to consume with pleasure. She was right!

And that doesn’t even get me to the local stores and business owners who went out of their way to order things on our behalf and then deliver them to our doorstep.

Thank you all. In some ways, I don’t like lists like this, since I will forever wonder who I forgot. If I did, it is my fault. Jax remembers you all – like ‘Chef Katie’ at Annabel’s who when Jax finally could leave me for a couple of hours plied her with goodness and let her breathe in a different space.

Thank you all.


John Philpin
John Philpin
JOHN'S career spans 30 years, 2 continents, and organizations as diverse as Oracle, Citibank and GE. A Mathematics graduate, John moved to California in 1990. He helps technology companies create, develop and deliver their story for fund raising, market development and influencer programs. He also works with businesses to ensure they understand, and are ready, for the ever accelerating changes that technology is bringing to their industry. John is a co-founder of Expert Alumni and gleXnet and long before futurists and industry watchers were writing about the impending challenges that industries were going to be facing, they predicted a perfect storm of issues like skills gap, declining work forces, the gig economy, people trained to do work no longer needed, demographic shifts, economic and social change, market upheaval and rapidly changing ways of doing work. From the beginning they have promoted the idea that massive change was coming to how organizations should think about their workforce, with a singular focus on simplifying the interface between people and their work. Understanding the challenges ahead of the curve, the solution was built to arrive at a better understanding of the greatest restraint to business operations - competence, not capital. gleXnet provides unparalleled insights into an organizations people and operations by flipping the problem from the perspective of people, not the business.

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