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Tough times … Easy choices May 22, 2010

Posted by Ian Clatworthy in Uncategorized.
21 comments

It’s been a rough few weeks with news from my doctors about a new (rectal cancer) tumor that they are unable to remove. No-one can say with certainty how long I’ve got to live – cancer progression is a very individual thing – but my surgeon has indicated it could be as little as 3 months. Furthermore, there’s nothing Western medicine can do to prolong my life, though it can – and has – got my terrible pain of the last few months under control.

News like that is really hard to process. I wanted a second opinion and ended up receiving 5 or 6 of them from numerous specialists. The consensus was unanimous …

“Go out and enjoy every minute of the time you have left”.

Paradoxically, the worse the news, the easier it turns out to decide what to do. While I’m truly blessed with the best job in the world, it’s time to spend less time in front of a computer and more time with my family and friends, particularly my 3 kids. From Monday, I’ll be working part-time (for the first time since 1988).

Time also for a really good holiday. There are places I’d like to see and, quite frankly, it’s now or never! Given the nature of travel insurance, I’m now unlikely to see many of those places overseas but that still leaves a huge list of amazing places in Australia to visit.

Some people would say I’m lucky to know in advance that my time is nearly up and that many others never get that forward notice. I’m in two minds about that. The down side is that thinking about one’s death becomes terribly paralyzing at times. I frequently get angry about dying so young. There is still so much I want to do and so much I want to see. I strongly believe that we’re all responsible for making the world a better place. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved but, given another 43 years, it could be so much more.

Here’s hoping that I can prove the doctors wrong and live for many more years instead of just a few months. Miracles do happen. I plan to stay out of pain, focus on really good nutrition, rest a lot, enjoy every moment and hope the cancer spreads slowly (or disappears altogether!). In the meantime, here’s hoping someone has a mega-brainwave and cures cancer. How hard can it be?

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Two of the things on my mind November 7, 2009

Posted by Ian Clatworthy in Uncategorized.
9 comments

Last week, my battle with colorectal cancer turned ugly again with confirmation that it had returned. After 15+ months of radiation treatment, major surgery x 2, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, chemotherapy and recovering from a stoma reversal, it was news I could have done without.
The good news is that my liver looks OK. The bad news is that the cancer has reached my lungs and possibly the pelvis bone. Chemotherapy started again last Monday.

As you can imagine, I have a lot on my mind right now. Two things keep popping into my head though: bacteria under rocks in Antarctica and a quote by Steve Jobs. I keep thinking of the first thing because it reminds me that, no matter how harsh the circumstances, life finds a way to survive. The quote by Steve is essentially this: โ€œWeโ€™re put on this Earth to make a dent”. My job in this lifetime is far from done so I plan being around for a long time yet.

How can I help? June 26, 2008

Posted by Ian Clatworthy in Uncategorized.
10 comments

Exactly two weeks ago, I received some bad news which will undoubtedly change my life – I have bowel cancer. At 41, I’m much too young to die and I’m pleased to say that I’m not likely to in the near future. Even so, I’m in for several months of treatment, surgery and recovery. Nothing like a wake-up call like that to trigger re-assessing one’s priorities in life!

When I started this blog in 2007, I explicitly made the decision to focus it on professional topics and avoid making it about life in general. I gave it the title Agile Teams, Open Software, Passionate Users .. Life is too short for anything else. You can tell it’s not about life in general because I left Good Wine out of the title. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are times like now though when separating professional from personal just doesn’t make any sense. We simply spend such a large percentage of our waking hours working that happiness at work is directly related to personal happiness for many of us, and good personal health directly impacts our productivity and relationships at work.

In my case, I’m extremely lucky to be doing the work I do at Canonical. It’s something I feel deeply passionate about: making it easier to produce great software more efficiently. I also have the privilege of working with a bunch of really smart people and I learn something new from them each and every week, if not every day.

My family and I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support everyone has offered. Almost every one we know has contacted us on hearing the news asking what they can do to help. I’m writing this article because I want to let people know, regardless of where they live, that they can help. Here’s how:

  1. Don’t take your health for granted like I did. Early detection of many diseases in the only real defence so go and get those tests done you’re been putting off because you feel fine.
  2. Do something you enjoy and do it well. Life truly is too short to be working in a job you hate or to be wasting time using unproductive processes and tools. (If you use a computer, try Ubuntu. If you develop software, try Bazaar.)
  3. Take care of the people close to you.

We live in a society where talking about one’s butt simply isn’t done – no-one ever goes to the toilet in any novel I’ve ever read! It’s not easy telling people that I have rectal cancer, but it’s common and often fatal. If sharing my story means other people catch it or another disease sooner, then I’m pleased to have done it.