Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I am a 47 man. I never smoked, never drank and my only two vices were a fondness for sweet things (cake and chocolates) and diet coke. Some might say I am an endorphin addict since I have always enjoyed exercise – the tougher and harder the better. I am a lifetime member of Les Mills and regularly attend a couple of the hardest circuit classes around. I have built a small gym in my house and outfitted it with a weight cage, cross trainer, rowing machine and a bike on a wind trainer. Most mornings I will spend about an hour down in my gym on one of the cardio machines, watching TV at the same time, all before going to work. A good day will see me train both in the morning and at night. My perfect start to a weekend day is to get up before the family and go and watch a game of rugby or league whilst trying to bike or set a new PB on my cross trainer.

I am married to an amazing women Patti who I first started going out with 30 years ago whilst we were both in the same senior year of our high school. She is unbelievably witty, charming and a delight to be around. Most people that meet us wonder how I managed to get someone so great. I don’t believe in soul mates, but if I did, she would be mine.

We have two children. My son Zeke is going to be 17 later this year. He has inherited much of his mother’s wonderful personality, but there are some of my good bits in there too. We are still a very crucial part of his life and he keeps us very engaged with all his sporting and academic activities. He has found a perfect balance between all the demands of someone who is good at lots of things. It is wonderful seeing him going through his life at this stage, and we enjoy so many laughs together. I could not imagine a better son.

My daughter Xanthe is 10 and she has to be one of the sweetest people to ever walk this earth. She is so caring, especially with young children around. I don’t think she has a mean thought or cell in her entire body. I imagine this is how her mother was when she was 10. There is a very strong bond between Patti and Xanthe and they play and laugh together like two best friends. It is a joy to watch.

I am an academic and have just finished doing 3 years as Head of Department (HOD) and am now on sabbatical. I work in an amazing gem of a department with some great people. To me the department is like an extension to my family. One of the true pleasures I get out of being an academic is helping other people and this was something I could do more effectively whilst being HOD. I truly enjoyed seeing the achievements made by the various staff within the Department. I remember smiling to myself for days when I had heard about certain promotions and new appointments. I also greatly enjoyed interacting with the students and our Department is small enough that it is possible to get to know the students very well. I still have contact with some of the students I taught or interacted with 20 or more years ago and on a recent trip to the UK one of my highlights was meeting up again with two former students from one of the earlier classes.

On my research side, things are going incredibly well. I have a fantastic group of postdocs and graduate students, all different but all working so well together as a team. They are also like part of the family to me. My group is well funded, having secured a multitude of grants, and we are at the cutting edge of what we do. So many studies/experiments/simulations that are being done by them are true world-firsts. The publications/conferences etc are queuing up out the door. Far from peaking, this work is actually in its infancy. There is so much more we can and need to do and I can see so much opportunity for us. I need my group to double/treble/quadruple in size if I am to keep up with all the opportunities that I can see before us. This little gut research group of mine down in NZ has made a big impact on the world scene, and we are being noticed.

Life is so good.

Or at least it was until 11.20am on Thursday June 9, 2011.


At 30 June 2011 at 20:34 , Blogger Otis6 said...

Hi Andrew,
My mum works for the university as well and had your blog passed onto her by a work colleague.
Please let me introduce myself, my name is Janine & like you I have Metatastic Melanoma too however in my case I have been fighting this disease for nearly 3 years. I've had 4 operations with 10 tumours removed & radiotherapy treatment, which unfortunately has not been successful, I too am looking at non surgical options as the tumours are too large & widespread for surgery to remain an option.
It was wonderful to read of all the love & support you are's that support that helps you stay strong. On a practical level I just wanted to share a couple of other options with you that I have found extrememly helpful. Firstly there is an absolutely wonderful multiple disciplinary team based in Takapuna called the Melanoma Unit, if you want a second opinion, then Richard, Mike or Graham are absolutely amazing as I know from first hand experience. Secondly, they have a strong network of worldwide contacts which I am certainly taking advantage of at present.
They were actually at the Chicago conference when the new "wonder" drugs were released. They are fully up with the play on plx4032 & yervoy etc. Also university of Pennsylvania is considered the leading melanoma hospital in the US along with other well known places such as John Hopkins. They have a very good video that is useful for friends & family to watch which outlines treatment options for metatastic melanoma & explains in an easy to understand basis.
Please forgive me if you feel overwhelmed by the info I have given, please feel free to ignore it as well, I'm sure like me that everyone knows someone who can recommend a place or medical professional! Lastly, I would just like to offer you my sincerest best wishes as you fight this battle, I have 2 children as well aged 7 & 10 years- they give me my will to live & overcome the battle with cancer as I'm sure your two beautiful children do as well.

At 25 July 2011 at 12:04 , Anonymous Mary said...

Hi Janine, I think that I may have been the colleague that passed on the information and just want to also wish you all the best with this battle. Paul Callaghan has also been looking at non surgical options for his fight with another form of cancer, you might like to have a look at his blog and see if there are any additional options for your treatment regime. My very best wishes to you and your family, Mary


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