When we are young we all believe we are invincible, and bullet proof. We take risks that when you get older you wouldn’t dream of doing and I suspect this is why most jet fighter pilots are in their early 20’s.
Unfortunately the statistics tell us a different story,
- 1 in 3 Australians will be disabled for more than 3 months before they reach 65 with no source of income.
- 15% of the total Australian population between the ages of 15 and 65 are totally or severely disabled because of illness, injury or accidents.
- In 2005, Australians that experienced a work related injury only 57% received financial assistance and 55% of those received workers compensation (ABS 2006)
- Every year there are over 50,000 cases of heart attack in Australia (Heart Foundation 2004)
I grew up with Scott we went to school together, played sport and he was a regular fixture on our couch at home when I was growing up. When Scott married my brother was his best man, and my sister was a bridesmaid. Scott was your typical “A type personality” an accountant who had worked overseas, and was now working for a big firm in Australia, playing competitive sport , and living an active social life with a large circle friends. He was living the dream.
However one day at breakfast he has a fit and started convulsing similar to what an epileptic suffers and was rushed to hospital. He was released without any idea as to what had caused this. Life continued for him at 100 miles an hour until 2 months later the same thing happened. After extensive tests and many false hopes he was diagnosed with a grade 4 (fast growing) astrocytomas brain tumour.
The average life expectancy was less than a year and fewer than 6 in 100 people (6%) are alive after 5 years.
I felt helpless as I saw Scott’s life be up ended in an instant. After extended periods of sick leave, he resigned from his $100,000 a year accounting job, whilst he gave up playing football, he tried to continue training but the tumour had affected his motor skills and he could no longer mark a ball or run properly, his speech become slower and the “quick wit” that he always had disappeared.
Scott had cancelled his death, total and permanent disablement, and income protection insurance 12 months before being diagnosed and to see the financial struggles he had to endure were heart breaking despite a wide network of supportive friends and family. At one stage he returned to work on a part time basis as a residential property manager, but he had to resign as he kept falling asleep at the desk.
Trying to manage a serious illness whilst struggling to pay the bills on the disability support pension is impossible.
Scott died in 2006 at 35 years of age, and it was a fork in the road moment in life for anyone that knew him. Protect yourself and protect your family it is worth it.