Collin Hart is one of the most optimistic and cheerful 69 year olds you are ever likely to meet. Yet he has been battling serious illness and debilitating arthritic pain most of his life. When you hear his story, you will know that we all have some big lessons to learn from Collin.
His first surgery was when he was 20,is first surgery was when doctors had to operate on his ankle to give his fixed-foot some minimal mobility.
If you would have been with Collin in 2003, you would have seen him in hospital, he had some of his eyesight, he had lost a finger, he was confined to a wheel chair, unable to walk because of the two hip replacements he needed and you would have seen huge, open, weeping and incredibly painful venous ulcers on his legs. Depression and hopelessness were written on his face. He was asking himself if it was worth carrying on.
The doctors operated for one hip replacement in 2006 and the second in 2007, but Collin says, “My spirit had been battered by the years confined to a wheel chair. I was depressed and I was putting on massive amounts of weight.
I felt hopeless.”
“And then one day a nurse told me to stand on the scales. And that was the moment it hit me – and it hit me hard. I was an incredible 170 kegs! She asked if I wanted to do anything about it – of course I did!”
“This was to be the turning point of my life – I changed my eating habits and slowly started exercising. The life- saver was the swimming pool where I could exercise without taking a toll on my hips and other joints and bones.” Collin was incredibly dedicated and single minded. So much so, that he attracted a great deal of media attention as he battled the weight with active aerobics in Southport pool.
“This is when I decided to change the direction of my life” says Collin. “All that support I got really touched me and so I decided to give back to help the community that had helped me, and I was determined to help the community to change”.
I had one talent – I could communicate. I can talk, I talk to everybody, I love it. So I decided to help by communication. My message is simple – don’t wait around for things to change or wait for a hand- out or complain about how bad things are for you – do something, change things yourself. That applies to everything – getting a job or getting yourself healthy like I did.“
Collin made a proposal to the Active and Healthy programme run by Council to help distribute information about them at exhibitions and shopping centres. Now he is an Ambassador for the Council’s Active & Healthy programme. He was nominated for the Australia Day Awards for his contribution to the programme. On top of that, Collin gives talks and lectures motivating both youngsters and older people in the Gold Coast.
You might think that all is now well and there is a “happy ever after” ending. But not so. Collin was diagnosed with prostate cancer, with skin cancer and with a very rare condition that is popularly known as the flesh eating disease.
About the prostate cancer, Collin says, “I was pretty sure myself that something was seriously wrong. I was having to wake up four, five times a night to go to the toilet, so I took myself to the doctors. They confirmed the prostate cancer after some tests.”
“But you know what “ said Collin, “Because of everything else I had been through, this was not really a big shock and I didn’t stop functioning or anything. I just figured out what had to be done.”
For the prostate cancer, “I think I was one of the first patients at the new unit that Radiation Oncology Queensland has at the new Gold Coast Hospital. They explained to me what they do and what was possible and the risks and so on. It sounded worthwhile to me and so I went ahead with the treatment.
“Collin started radiation treatment in September of 2014. “Altogether I think there were 39 treatments. I had to go in about four to five times a week,” says Collin. There is no feeling when you are actually getting the treatment, but afterwards, although each time is different, there can be discomfort and bleeding.”
“But it was all worth it. I feel great, I don’t have the prostate discomfort and I don’t get up at night as often as I used to.” Collin is back doing what he loves – that is spreading the word to be positive and to live life. He always has a big smile on his face and this great ability to make you laugh – he can cheer up your day any time of day.
Now isn’t that a remarkable gift?
Live Well Club