Rugby news | My brother-in-law is a remarkable man. Cancer couldn’t stop him from an amazing marathon feat3 min read
This was supposed to be a rugby column. Not this week.
Sometimes there’s a greater story that needs to be told.
This one is remarkable. It’s about a bloke from Adelaide who’s spent his whole professional life making a difference for others.
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And it’s about how sometimes life isn’t fair and can bite you on the backside when you least expect it.
Tim Proudman is his name. A more generous and caring human you will not meet.
Tim’s renowned as one of Australia’s best plastic and reconstructive surgeons. A career spent in service of others.
And despite all his professional prowess and esteem, it’s his family he rates as his greatest achievement.
His wife is a professor, a leading Australian expert in arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Two of his kids are doctors and his eldest daughter is a lawyer – the black sheep of the family.
Tim has spent many years travelling to Bhutan, the small Kingdom in the eastern Himalayas, volunteering his services.
In a country where fire is still the main source of cooking and heating, burns are a huge problem.
In later years, a development program has seen Tim mentor a Bhutanese surgeon in Adelaide to help him become Bhutan’s first qualified reconstructive surgeon. Life changing for so many.
The sporting angle here? Well, Tim loves his sport. Aussie rules, cricket, tennis, rugby union.
All of the above and a whole lot more.
Later in life he discovered marathon running. He’s not fast and, he’ll happily tell you, not necessarily built for it. He’ll also tell you discipline, determination, and a healthy dose of bloody-mindedness will take you far.
It’s taken him all over the world. Up until 2021, Tim Proudman competed in and finished marathons on five continents. Incredible.
But in early November 2021 something changed for Tim. His wife Susanna noticed he was having trouble with his speech, searching for words. Something wasn’t right.
An MRI revealed a Glioblastoma – a grade IV brain tumour. The worst kind. Average life expectancy: 18-24 months.
There was surgery and chemotherapy is ongoing. It’s been 16 months now and the scans are still clear. Sometimes he finds words hard to find, his family and friends find them even harder.
But if you’ve competed in marathons on five continents there are still one or two boxes to be ticked, an itch to be scratched.
Tim still harboured a not-so-secret desire to do another two marathons on another two continents to complete the clean sweep and he wasn’t about to let a life-threatening brain tumour stand in his way.
So last Sunday Tim, and his great school friend and marathon-running mate Mark Adams, lined up at the start-line of the Antarctica Marathon on King George Island.
Six hours and five minutes later, in temperatures hovering around minus 10, they crossed the finish line.
Again, it’s hard to find the words.
One to go now. The Big Sur Marathon in California at the end of April. The full house.
Maybe there’ll be more marathons after that. Maybe there won’t. That’s the insidious nature of this. Nobody knows.
You see, I’m Tim’s brother-in-law. It’s somehow comforting to know that my admiration for him is shared by so many.
Of the changes we’ve noticed in Tim since his fight began, he’s become a hugger. I’ve become a hugger too and I’ve got one waiting for him.
A giant bear hug because sometimes you don’t want to let go.
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For more information on Interplast’s work in Bhutan