“It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning …”

Caption:  Peter Trayhurn and his famous Lost-At-Sea experience.  Video: courtesy of Marcus O’Brien

I first met Peter Trayhurn at the Hallwang clinic in Germany.

I was sitting in the dining room at the clinic, when in strode this incredibly tall man who commandeered himself a place at the table and started chatting confidently to everyone and criticising some cancer treatments he’d been researching.

I asked him who he was, and his reply was:  “Pete … Peter Trayhurn.”

He obviously expected some form of recognition from me, and when I looked blankly at him, he added (with that characteristic confidence that I would come to recognise as one of his traits) before he made a dramatic exit: “read my blog.”

I could have taken a dislike to him for his assumption that he was amazing and brilliant and likeable, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t, because he was so open and enthusiastic in everything he said and did.  What you saw and heard, was what you got with Peter.  He was a bit of the stereotype Aussie – brash and loud, someone who didn’t give any bullshit about what he thought or what people thought of him.  He got into trouble for what he said and the way he said things, he called some of the people on colon cancer forums “sheeple” for following what the doctors’ prescribed, and not for striking out and finding new cures, the way he did.

But he put his money where his mouth was.  He spent hours on research, finding out the latest treatments.  Treatments that were cutting-edge, experimental, off-label.  He had the brains to do the research too.  In the years to come he would go to international conferences and debate treatments with immunotherapists and oncologists, and they respected him.

Wherever he went, he was larger-than-life.  He had no shame in using his charm pushiness glib-tongue persuasiveness to get an upgrade on a hotel room, or score some free supplements, or treatments.  The thing was, he could get away with it because wherever he went, he made people laugh and smile.  He made them feel as though he was doing them the hugest honour by being with them.  It’s a cliche to say he was a positive person, but god yes, he was that irritating positive person who never let cancer get him down.

I don’t know how I came to be his friend.  I think it’s because when I first met him, he was researching the ketogenic diet and the Coy protocol and GcMAF, and in those days, not many people had heard of any of these treatments, much less the esoteric supplements required.  I think Peter was like a lot of highly-intelligent people, rather dismissive of people who didn’t share his views.  And I think the moment when he realised I had a brain was when I asked him where he got his stash of pigs brains (which used to be recommended for GcMAF), and asked all the right questions about the beef salami in his delivery of Coy supplements.

Peter was an amazing friend to have.  He would go out of his way to share his knowledge and was always on the lookout for people to share his adventures.  He would go out of his way to help his friends get from one end of Germany to the other.  He had a wicked sense of humour too.  I still remember the time when he took me to the Panorama-Bad Spa in Freudenstadt.  Peter charged into the Finnish Spa yelling at me to follow him quickly.  I rushed in after him and then stopped short right in the middle of the sauna.  I was surrounded by three tiers of seating (like being in a gladiatorial arena), stuffed with large and sweaty and very naked German men.  Have you ever seen a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car?  (Well, I gave a very good impression of one that day.)  Peter had a big grin on his face.

And then there was the time I was late for a flight, and Peter broke all the speed limits driving to the airport at Frankfurt, then dashing to the check-in desk where he begged them to open the desk again to let me check in.

I know that not everybody was a fan of Peter.  Earlier this year, someone wrote a rather tasteless and insensitive e-mail to me saying that he felt that Peter was encouraging cancer patients to be reckless and try unproven treatments, that his blog was being irresponsible for publicising these treatments, and that he was now dying from all those irresponsible treatments.  I did not reply to that e-mail.  I have to point out to any critics that even the treatments at Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic did not work for everyone, and some were off-label.  Peter himself confessed in his blog that the therapies he was trying may have worked for him and not for everyone else.  Peter’s blog also encouraged people to try think outside the box and who knows how many lives he helped?

And yes, despite Peter’s valiant attempts at curing his Stage 4 cancer, it got him in the end.  But he lasted 4 years, from an initial prognosis of 6 months, so he must have been doing something that worked.

Peter’s blog wasn’t always the easiest of reads.  It suffered from being written on the fly, often on his mobile phone, and so the syntax and grammar and spelling suffered.  It was more a diary of his experiences, and sometimes had a stream-of-consciousness feel to it.  But it was crammed full of research, his test results and experiences.  And oh! Full of Peter’s enthusiasm for life!

(there is no other cancer blog on the internet that has such a full account of the treatments and ordeals a cancer patient goes through, and full disclosure of all his medical records and tests.  It is remarkable for that alone.)

There are so many more memories I have of Peter.  One more thing I must add is that even though he spent months by himself in Germany, Peter loved his wife and children.  He was faithful to his wife and couldn’t wait to get back to his children in Australia.  He talked about them all the time.  It was a huge dilemma for him: he needed German therapies to keep the cancer under control, and every time he went back to Australia the cancer would go on a rampage. Yet Australia was his home, and where the family he loved so much lived.

*********

As you might have guessed, Peter Trayhurn passed away in April in his beloved Australia.

Thank you everyone, who prayed for Peter.  We all prayed hard, but this time our prayers weren’t enough.

It’s take me awhile to start writing this post because I couldn’t get my head around the fact that he was truly truly dead.

Even reading the news of his passing, written by his daughter on his blog, seemed unreal.  And watching a video on his Facebook page, of someone singing Amazing Grace at his funeral was like watching a documentary.  I could not believe that the coffin in the shot contained Peter’s body.  It seemed too small and insignificant to contain such a magnificent person.  It was too final for someone who always managed to beat the cancer and live beyond doctors’ predictions.

Even when things got really bad, he always pulled through until I came to believe that one day, he would beat the odds and survive to see his children grow up and get married and have grandchildren.

(To show you how resilient Peter was, and how he always managed to beat death:  About six years’ ago, Peter and a friend were scuba-diving when they were stranded 8km off the NSW Mid-North Coast after their dive boat’s anchor line snapped.  The waves were high, but fortunately a tanker spotted them and they were plucked from the water by a police launch and returned to their dive boat.

However, their dive boat capsized as they returned to port, tossing the pair into the ocean and putting their lives in jeopardy once again.  Again, they made it to safety and eventually managed to salvage the boat.   The video of Peter’s rescue and dramatic boat capsize is at the top of this post.)

About a month before Peter passed away, I managed to get a Skype session with him.  The call took place in the middle of the night for him.  He was in the hospital.  I was lucky to get to speak to him as he had been vomiting constantly and on morphine.  He asked me to play the piano for him to distract him from the pain and I played some (what I hoped was) soothing Chopin.  The sound of the music attracted the attention of the nurse and she came to tell him off.  Despite the pain, I could hear him saying to her: “It’s my beautiful friend in England … she’s playing some beautiful music for me.”

I asked him how he was and he told me that they had stopped feeding him.  I asked him why (almost guessing, but not quite wanting to believe the reason why) and he said he didn’t know.  There were tears running down my face as I asked: “Is this the end, Peter?”  And despite the pain that was killing him, he looked at me, and smiled and still tried to cheer me up when he whispered:  “It’s not the end … it’s just the beginning.”

Peter once said, in an interview after his dramatic Lost-At-Sea experience:

“I don’t talk about living and dying, I talk about winning and losing.

“If I lose now I’ll know I’ve done everything I can to win,” he said.

Damn right he did everything he knew to win the battle against cancer.

God bless you, Peter.  Safe journey and happy new beginnings wherever you are.

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