Embrace The Unexpected

If my wife was an official representative for women I'd owe my life to the female species. That's right, all of you. You see my wife saved my life. She doesn't exactly wear a cape and I wasn't necessarily a handsome in distress, nor did she save me from a burning house as I cooked. It was a short glance at my back in January 2017 when she noticed a dark spot at the centre of my back.

When my wife noticed the dark spot it was looking slightly out of character. It had been 9 years since my last skin check so a long-awaited skin check was made with the local skin specialists the very next day.

It seemed a routine skin check until the GP stopped at the spot and a biopsy was made right then and there. The biopsy came back the following week as Stage 1 melanoma. A real scare. That spot plus the surrounding skin was removed. Fortunately, only a simple procedure ending with a new scar. At the time I was 39 years of age, two daughters and an amazing wife. I was not only given the all clear of any further stages of melanoma but also given the gift of clarity.

Now before I go on, I want to highlight something. We all share the same beginning when we're born. We will all inevitably share a similar ending so I'm a firm believer that it's what happens in between these two moments and the actions that we take is our responsibility. Things happen and sometimes what happens is out of our control, an unexpected misfortune, a beautiful or terrifying moment, or a simple reminder. A reminder that things can change quickly when we least expect it and so it's how we embrace the unexpected that truly defines us and shouts . . . *cue mystical mountain voice* ……the journey matters.

Why am I telling you this? Two reasons. One, I want to remind you, your husband, your partner, family, friends to get your skin checked. It's a 20 min procedure. It might just save a life. Two, because a little set back set my journey on a new path and I want to remind you that a challenge in your life, it may be one you're experiencing right now, is just the opportunity you're waiting for.

I love the outdoors as much as you. I always have and I always will. I've trekked the Snowy's, the Himalaya, Andes and the Alps. I feel my best when I'm on the trail running or walking with family, friends, even alone and live for the energy and peace it brings. Time outdoors is incredible but we are vulnerable.

Australia for instance has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Its geographical location ensures our country receives high levels of Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR). Skin cancer accounts for around 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers.

Over 400 000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are reported each year resulting in more than 500 deaths and over 12 000 cases of melanoma of which 1500 will be fatal.

So, cover up. Use sun screen, wear breathable UPF50+ sun protective clothing and regularly (ideally every 12 months) get your skin checked by a specialist. We all know the rules when it comes to skin care just ensure you apply them.

Secondly, like those mountains we love, life will give us highs and lows. But it's supposed to. Today, we rely on our vision and the actions we make and it's hard to know what's ahead for each of us. But as we gracefully age, that's right, gracefully, one of the best things about looking to the past is joining the dots and how certain events, good and/or bad triggered changes or decisions that have led you here. I say this as I'm living proof.

Now Stage 1 melanoma is not so bad compared to other illnesses, found in time, it can be managed, there are worse positions to be in. However, finding out I had stage one melanoma came as a shock and once this initial distress had passed it activated and ignited ideas, dreams I'd be holding on to for some time. Ironically this idea I had was to produce sun protective apparel. So, I started. And with beginning I felt aligned to where I was supposed to be and be going.

Maybe you're stressed, suffering a little so breaking from the routine and taking action could ensure that snorkel at Rottnest Island you've been dreaming about becomes a reality? Maybe trekking the Camino de Santiago could be calling every time the wind whistles through the suburban tree branches during your morning walk or that 'gap in the market' which is so obvious to you is waiting for your idea to blossom.

Im not saying you need to wait for a setback to change direction, to set new goals or begin a new journey. But embrace change much like you embrace happiness, embrace each opportunity but most importantly stay drawn and curious to life as much as you do to the outdoors and it's wonder. Explore and discover. The journey really does matter.

Simon Webster

Simon Webster is a father of two girls and a grateful husband to his wife. He is founder of tscudo and loves everything the outdoors, especially the mountains have to offer. He lives with his family in Sydney, Australia.