Paul Blackburn success coach, counsellor, author, instructor and keynote speaker has spoken to audiences of more than 6,000 and over a 30 year career taught 100,000 people. If you thought public speaking scared you imagine when Paul faced Prostate Cancer, a radical prostatectomy and 6-7 hours under the knife, he became a regular bloke frightened by the prospect of death. It was at 52 he agreed with his wife, “that it is time to take some of my own advice.
The eerie part of Prostate Cancer is that you can have no symptoms in the early stages. Paul’s health prior to Prostate Cancer he says was, “Probably the best it has been in years.” He was 52 and on a fitness kick prior to that and in really good nic. There were no apparent symptoms and the only thing he had noticed was that it was taking him longer to urinate than in the past. It wasn’t obvious and since it was a slow change he was slow to do something about it.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO FINALLY SPEAK TO A GP?
What was about to happen would force Paul to review his entire world in 6 weeks.
Paul was enjoying life and keeping busy in his business of 20 years that he ran with his wife Mary. They weren’t millionaires but they weren’t broke either. It was incidental, I was there for removal of a skin cancer when the doc said, “Anything else.” I will always remember his simple words which prompted me to say well, “ It is taking longer to go to the toilet.” I was up on the table and before I knew what was going on he said, “ Yes we have a problem there, we better get a blood test.” That lead to a biopsy that led to something quite dramatic. The biopsy had 8 samples of which 5 were positive. The end result was that I was given some options and none of them sounded fantastic I went for the radical prostatectomy as in those days there weren’t many options. I had no idea about my prostate yet alone prostate cancer. It was a radical learning curve.
“When it was confirmed by the specialist that I would need an operation that was 6-7 hours under the knife, at first I felt very frightened. Cancer was something unknown to me and something other people got. I was the same as many blokes with shock and denial,thinking what have I done wrong, I haven’t hurt anyone. I became just a standard bloke and found myself going into the operation pretty much unprepared or not really understanding the depth of it or if I did understand the depth of it I thought we have to do something radical immediately.”
“The toughest time was from the operation until when they told me it was successful 6 weeks later, the toughest 6 weeks of my life mate. I had to wait until then for a blood test to check PSA levels. I took this as when you come back for a test we will tell you if you live or die.”
“In six weeks I did a lot of soul searching. The doctors had told me that I may have 3 years and then I was out of here and off the planet. So I thought about what I would do with my 3 year sentence. How do I handle life, two teenager daughters, my wife, it was a very full on time.”
AFTER SUCH A SHOCK TO YOUR HEALTH AND TO YOUR LIFE HAVE YOU FOUND THE NEED TO MAKE ANY CHANGES?
I have always eaten healthily but since having PC I did seek the advice of a naturopath who told me some guy in 1929 won the noble prize for discovering that cancer cells thrive in a glucose rich environment and explained that I should go on a grain free diet. This will get glucose levels low and give cancer cells nothing to live on I read all the research since 1929 as you can imagine since 1929 much has been written, it took some time. But I have gone on this diet, keeping blood glucose levels low with some outstanding side effects. I have lost heaps of weight and with less sugar in my system there is not much for your body to make fat from. I don’t walk around as most middle aged men with a belly. But I was lucky and nine years down the track I am still here better odds than your average person.
The major changes have been in business and the major understanding is to realise is that I am not here for long and I plan to be here until 80-90 as I have great genetic inheritance and planning to earn enough to live well in these later years.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A MULTI MILLIONAIRE AFTER PC?
I took 12 months off to recover, most of this was emotional rather than physical and that caused a lot of soul searching, thinking if I am going to go back am I going to do it the same. I came to the conclusion that I should take my own advice since I am a professional coach and councillor and if I tell others to do it , I should do it. My wife said, “Hallelujah finally there may be some change” and then the business exploded.
I didn’t take risks but I did put my prices up which in the past I was petrified to do as I thought I would lose my customers. I doubled my prices as I had advised many other people in business to do. I needed to reduce my workload and thought it might reduce some of those “high maintenance clients”. In response people wondered if they were getting close to being high maintenance but it had the opposite effect. No clients dropped off so 3 months later my wife said, “that didn’t work well, what are you going to do?” So I doubled my prices again and that was 4 times increase in a few months. Now it is a multi million dollar business, it never was like this before, my workshops have increased from 30 – 150. The tax department doesn’t treat me like I am a small business anymore.
“We say that something is impossible until it has to be done and it needed to be done so it got done. I think all people who have had cancer start to look differently at how they are doing things at least I know I certainly did.”
Paul’s down to earth style has been favoured by
Olympic athletes, sales teams, educators and Australian Government departments, as well as people who lost their homes and businesses in the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Paul has appeared on talk back radio and television shows including Getaway; A Current Affair and The Midday Show.
He has a tremendous educational message and knows how to teach and motivate. Due to his reputation as a world class presenter, the Adult Education Faculty of the Australian National University conducted a study of one of Paul’s public seminars with a view to gain greater insights into their own teaching strategies.
DOES PC STILL HAUNT YOU?
It’s something I don’t take my mind off, in a great way it keeps my focus on my health so when I get a twinge or something slight I probably react a bit more nervously than I should but it is probably normal for people who have had cancer. Now when you get a stomach ache you question it. Is it only something I ate or is it something else, the big C?
A lot of people naturally think that cancer is something that happens to someone else, you hear about it but you don’t really plan for it in your life and with subtle symptoms you don’t think to go to the doc.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR MEN OVER 50?
9 years on I am still alive. I wasn’t having regular check ups before but I certainly do now. I couldn’t tell if my symptoms were just part of the aging process they were so subtle.
My message is – Get to the doctor before you need them.