Peter Hicks Productions

"Specializing in Attitudinal Change"
A life of Hope,  a life of Dreams, A sense of Humour, and a Positive Attitude.... " A Second Chance"

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" Love what you do, do what you love "

Copyright © 2002 Peter Hicks Productions

The art of starting all over.

Former Guelph man describes how he learned to live again after a brain tumour stole it all away

Competition is natural for Peter Hicks. Running in 15-kilometre races, learning to fly helicopters and planes, and cycling were part of his routine.

And at the age of 29 the University of Guelph graduate didn't show any signs of slowing down -- until he noticed some disturbing changes in his routine.

On regular runs, his legs weren't moving like those of a runner. The long, fluid strides were gone, replaced with mechanical, stilted movements. At times he was unable to stand up straight. He was having persistent, painful migraines. His speech became slurred, and words with more than two syllables were difficult to pronounce.

Confused by what was happening, Hicks pushed the problems to the back of his mind. He continued to test himself -- until a weekend flying lesson.

After take-off in a small Cessna 150 plane, Hicks noticed a series of blobs appearing on his windshield. He tried to wipe them clean but, whenever he reached for the blobs they moved. His instructor cut the lesson short, worried about Hicks' erratic behaviour and hallucinations.

The problems could no longer be ignored. Hicks' mother urged him to see a doctor.

After a series of tests, he was told he had a benign tumour the size of an egg growing on his cerebellum. His doctor told him it had to be removed immediately. Following the revelation, Hicks had the first, and most difficult, of three surgeries. Coming out of the surgery, his doctor told him he would never talk or walk again.

"I think no one should ever quit. Just go on. Anything is possible if you push yourself," says Hicks who shares his story in his new book, From Top to Bottom . . . and Back!

After the surgery, life changed overnight for Peter Hicks, now 52 and living in Victoria. Now the simple, routine events of the day were his biggest struggles.

"My life changed dramatically . . . Getting dressed was a challenge, eating, everything I'd taken for granted over the years,'' he said in a phone interview from Victoria where he now lives.

When Hicks started physiotherapy, he had to teach his body the actions it could no longer perform, like drinking water from a glass.

He worked daily with a tape recorder to regain his speech. Recording sounds and phrases, Hicks would listen to the play back for ways to improve his intonation and annunciation.

His recovery was a new form of competition. Every day he pushed himself further. After six months of therapy in the hospital, he moved back into the real world, facing new challenges. He started working on smaller tasks such as brushing his teeth or shaving. Within eight months of his surgery, he was able to go for short walks in his neighbourhood with the help of a cane.

"I've been fortunate enough to overcome many obstacles in my life," Hicks says while on his way to the University of British Columbia to speak to third-year medical students.

"It was a blessing in disguise. I've always wanted to be a professional speaker and now I can do it. I just want to share my experiences in the form of writing or speech to help people overcome obstacles."

Since 1997 Hicks has been a volunteer speaker at high schools, the Rotary Club, and chapters of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada both here in Guelph and in Victoria, B.C. He wants to continue his work as a professional motivational speaker, expanding to bigger audiences in the future.

"He has a story to tell, he has a gift to tell it, and he also wants to spread the word that your life can go on in the face of incredible diversity," said Sharon Lauder, an art teacher at Guelph Collegiate.

Lauder met Hicks at the gym seven years ago. Now that he lives in B.C., Lauder and her husband, Scott, don't get to see him as often, but they stay in touch and get together whenever Hicks is in Guelph.

The Lauders didn't know much about Hicks' past until they read his book.

"Because he focuses on the positive, he certainly doesn't dwell on what has happened to him in the past, and that's why reading the book was a revelation. It certainly made my husband and I admire him more when we realized what he'd been through," Lauder said.

"He wasn't withholding anything. It was just that those details were in the past and he wants to move forward."

Lauder says it's Hicks' determination and tremendous willpower that have brought him to where he is now.

"Peter finds himself to be truly fortunate. He feels he has the gift of life."

From Top to Bottom . . . and Back! is available at the Bookshelf in Guelph.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of his book go to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

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