I looked Grim Reaper in the eye and told him 'to bugger off'
A YEAR ago, Councillor Neil Fisher looked the Grim Reaper in the eye and told him "to bugger off".
In Rockhampton Regional Council's general meeting on Tuesday, Cr Fisher thanked his colleagues and the community for their support during. He also gifted two large tropical plant encyclopaedias, which Mayor Margaret Strelow bought him for $1 each in a west Queensland charity shop, back to the council for future reference.
Cr Fisher joked there were very few people who would find the super-sized texts interesting, but they had kept him from "climbing the walls" with boredom.
He also spent his recovery writing a book about the plants of the Blackall region, which was launched last month for the town's 150th birthday.
Cr Fisher, known to all as a relentless workaholic, was about to board a flight to China for a council delegation last year when CEO Evan Pardon told him to go to the doctor instead.
He had been suffering relentless pain and couldn't stop vomiting.
Doctors performed five-hour life-saving surgery, removing a bowel obstruction "the size of a house bucket".
They later diagnosed Cr Fisher with bowel cancer and he started chemotherapy.
But the hardest thing for Cr Fisher to do was rest and he now admits his biggest mistake was returning to work too soon - which landed him in hospital again.
"Old dogs can learn new tricks if pain is involved," he said.
"Now what my doctor says, I do."
Reflecting on his health journey, Cr Fisher said he had met "some of the strongest and most inspirational people" during his time in the oncology ward at the Mater Hospital in Rockhampton.
"I learnt how caring the Rockhampton public are, during my time in hospital I received hundreds of well wishes and messages of support," Cr Fisher said.
"It was such a humbling experience but it also makes you so proud to live in the Rockhampton region.
"Yes, I had a tumour and it was cancerous. I had great care from my doctors and the staff at both the Mater and Wesley Hospitals.
"Yes, I had chemo and had the good days and dark ones that come with that treatment but the whole time I was supported by positive caring people."
Cr Fisher hopes to start 2019 fit and healthy after a final surgery this year.
"I intend to do as much as I can to be of help to others going through their own cancer journeys or using my story as a "what not to do" message to save other families from what I put my family through," he said. "I regard myself as one of Rockhampton's luckiest residents. And there is no other place in the world I would rather live."