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Living with Cancer

Stories of Success Podcast

Release Date: 12/12/2019

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Stories of Success Podcast

In this week’s episode I  welcome Cheryl Smith to my podcast. Cheryl leads talent management for Xerox, a public company with over 25,000 employees globally. She is a seasoned talent professional with over 25 years of success in talent assessment, succession planning, leadership development, employee engagement, organisational surveys and change programs for world-class, global organisations including Gartner, Legrand, Diageo, MetLife and AIG.

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This week's guest is Simon Squibb: a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, mentor, podcast host, founder and Chief Purpose Officer at the Purposeful Project. He retired at 40 but is now back. We recorded this episode a while back, with some friendly dogs barking in the background.

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I interviewed Andy last year, just before Christmas 2019. He openly spoke to me about his illness, and his life limiting cancer.

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This week’s podcast is a panel discussion with four former guests. We took a long time to manage all our diaries and I was glad when we finally got together to discuss Covid19, personal development, and how it seems the positive things that came from lock down. A episode going deep.

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Interviewing Andy Nobbs was an honour. Andy and I worked together, and I always enjoyed his management style. Down to earth, a very active person, a family man and full of life. I am not only saying this. He used to go sailing and running, and his whole family was involved. On the other hand we went for long media lunches, had fun in Cannes and at dmexco. He was razor sharp from a business perspective, the prize always in mind. We had so much in common, and we still do, and shared so many experiences.
 
Please note, due to some technical challenges, we had some audio problems in this recording. It gets better as we go along. Please accept my apologies for that, but I don’t think it takes anything away from the actual story.
 
Today, Andy has a life-limiting condition, and recognises that he will die sooner than he should. This is his story, and I am glad he shared it with me, so I can share it with you. It is a powerful story about life, and death. About perspective, personal choice and success. 
 
One day in 2016 I came back to the office after a client meeting and Andy was gone. He collapsed in the office earlier, and everyone thought he'd had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital and the doctors found out that he had a brain tumour. Totally unexpected. It was, as he said, as if 'someone hit me over the head with a baseball bat'.
 
In this podcast he talks to us about his experience, and how this has changed his life and his outlook on life. The definition of success has changed massively for him. Unfortunately, many people don’t want to talk about cancer, so I am more than grateful for Andy to do so, and share the awareness of what it means to discover one has cancer, and how quickly it can change your life.
 
Andy is both a mentor and a friend of mine. At 53, still young, his life changed. The cancer came back, he had a relapse and got a virus of the brain. He survived all that.  In late October his latest brain scan showed the tumour had not returned.  Another few months till the next check up. What does that mean for someone? 
 
The question is not if he will die, and I suppose we all do, but when.
 
It might be next year, or in 6 months or in a few years time. He was told that the cancer will return, It changes a man, any person, when you think your time might be up tomorrow.
 
Andy was a work-driven person, going to the US a lot on early morning flights, back and forth, and I have known him as very hard working. Goal driven, successful. For him that has changed of course; from a career person to surviving, setting himself shorter term goals. Holidays he enjoyed in the past, like going to Vietnam or sailing, living an active life, are just not possible anymore. Things he does are different now. He doesn’t have to achieve things anymore, so he says.
 
His balance is very poor, so he struggles to walk, let alone go skiing. It’s about making the most of your life, seeing your kids more often, and spending quality time with them. The way success is defined in Western culture is bizarre, he thinks. The radical change in his life makes him philosophical, reflective. He became a better person because of it, as the cancer put things into perspective. From every bad comes good. Even with his condition he shows a strong will to survive and achieve things, never giving up! Andy is truly remarkable.
 
He respects what he has and wants to enjoy the time he has left on earth. It is about every moment, bringing quality to every bit of his life. Andy believes his condition is down to life’s lottery. He praises his wife and started to bring his house in order. He has prepared his funeral, transferred his assets, ready to go any minute. Yet Andy still has plans, and enjoys seeing his kids grow up. He worries about them, and what the future holds for mankind. Climate change, politics. 
 
Andy praises the NHS, the doctor for their support and kindness.
 
I can logically understand what Andy said but emotionally I am very detached from what he is talking about. This is his story, but it hits my empathy.  I guess I cannot relate to it, I have never been in the situation before; however, we can only imagine what he and his family are going through. My thoughts are with you, Andy, and of course your wife and kids.
 
If you want to get in touch, please reach out to Andy via Linkedin.
 
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This podcast is hosted by Volker Ballueder (Ballueder Partners), a trusted advisor and business consultant. Volker wrote a book on productivity and life improvement #BeBetter. He launched his new book Principles for Success, based on the interviews on this podcast, in 2019. 
If you are interested in working with Volker Ballueder as an advisor, coach or consultant, please reach out to him via email ([email protected]).
 
From January, he offers mindfulness courses for the workplace too, so please be in touch!