In his own words: the moment Jarrod Lyle faced death
I NEVER thought it would come to this.
I'm lying in my hospital bed and have started to think about things no young person should ever have to confront; saying goodbye to my wife, my daughters, my family and friends.
Yesterday, after weeks of physical and mental torture, I finally told the doctors to cease active treatment. My tank is empty. As much as I desperately want to, I just can't go on. If this thing is going to beat me, then I at least want to go in peace. And that sure as hell isn't in this place.
For the record, I think I've actually beaten leukaemia for a third time, which I'm happy to say because nobody thought I could fight it again. But the cold, hard reality of that fight is that my body is knackered.
It's almost eight months since my third transplant, but it was only four short months ago that I honestly thought I had it beaten.
There was no real sign of any trouble, and I thought I was on the right road. My blood work was good, and all the important numbers were heading in the right direction. Everything was looking up.
Then, just seven weeks ago, we saw my doctor here in Melbourne for a routine appointment. He took one look at me and said, 'You're staying with me'. Looking back now, I realise that was the beginning of the end.
Since early June, I've done nothing but go backwards. My eyesight was the first to go. I'm not completely blind, but everything is really blurry. Then I lost strength and co-ordination in my limbs. My voice isn't the same as it used to be, and I'm now profoundly deaf in one ear with limited hearing in the other. I can't move myself around in bed anymore, and I need people to help me eat, shower me and take me to the toilet.
I feel like I've lost all my dignity.
The doctors have told us it's likely the immunosuppression drugs I've had to take since my transplant have taken their toll. They've weakened other parts of my body, and things are just shutting down. I'm falling apart, like an old rag doll.
About four days ago, with just Bri and me in my room, I said to her, 'I've had enough. My body just can't take any more'.
I can't find the words to describe how much pain I felt to say that. Bri and I hugged. We cried. There are no words after those ones. As much as what I've been dealing with has been living hell, it was still really scary to say that out loud. For almost 20 years I've secretly dreaded those words. And there they were. My worst fear coming to life.
Without even having to ask, my beautiful wife understood why I was saying those words. She'd been with me through all of the crappiest times and had talked me back from this moment more than once.
But she knew where I was coming from, and she chose that time to listen to what I really needed rather than focusing on what it meant for her and our little daughters. Had it not been for them, there's no way I would have come even half as far as I have.
There are a million reasons why I love Bri, and this was one of them. She just knew that we couldn't do any more.
Since making this final decision, I've been blessed to have a stream of really close friends and family come in to visit. They all know why they're here, and I'm glad I don't have to explain myself to anyone. They've sat here with me and we've spoken as openly as we could and said everything we needed to say to each other.
I never expected to see grown men wrap their arms around me and spill their guts about how they feel, but it makes me realise just how amazing all my friends are. I'll never be able to repay them for all they've meant to me.
I feel like I'm the luckiest golfer going around, because so many people took an interest in me, took an interest in my fight. I've had so many friends around the world, whether they're spectators, whether they're golfers, whether they're marshals or whatever, support me to go to every tournament.
It's going to be hard to leave them behind, but they know that I love them, that all the fighting I did was to get back out and play golf again.
I know I'll see Bri until I take my final breath. I'm the luckiest man in the world to have her by my side. It's going to be so hard to say goodbye. I just hope that everyone rallies around her and our beautiful girls.
This is awful, it's so hard to think about. My two little girls. I can't even think clearly about all the things I'm going to miss. I know they're already very special young ladies. More than anything else, I hope they know that I would do anything for them. Anything. They are both little miracles and I've cherished every moment I've ever had with them.
I've been asked how I would like people to remember me. That's a tough question to answer when it's going to be way too real very soon. But here goes …
Everyone who knows me, everyone who has watched me play golf or who has seen me on TV, knows that I'm a fighter and I never gave up. I think that's probably the thing I want them to remember about me. That for nineteen years, I didn't give up.
But there comes a time when it just gets too much, and that time is now.
The time is right to say I want to stop all treatment and just go out on my own terms.
Jarrod Lyle: My Story, with Mark Hayes and Martin Blake
Lake Press, RRP $35
Order now at www.challenge.org.au/shop
All royalties and profits from books sold through Challenge will be donated back to the organisation to be used specifically for Jarrod's Gift.
SUPPORTING KIDS WITH CANCER
If you wish to donate to Challenge and help the fight against childhood cancer, go to challenge.org.au.
Challenge and the Australian golf industry are also inviting every golf club in Australia to register and be part of the inaugural #DoingItForJarrod fundraiser throughout August. All funds raised will go towards Jarrod's Gift - the legacy created by Challenge in honour of Jarrod Lyle.