Episode 032: Roy McBeth -- elite cyclist and triathlete and organ donor advocate


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What we cover: The one thing we all have in common is that no one is immune. We will all go through periods of adversity. That fact is the great equalizer. What sets us apart however, is how we choose to handle the adversity.

Today’s episode might just be one of the most important conversations I’ve had. Not just in terms of this podcast, but in the bigger picture as well. We all have a choice – every day – to be the kind of person who squeezes the juice out of the gift of life that we have all been given. Or we can be a moaner and a groaner and a grumbler and a victim.

Roy McBeth is joyful and happy, and he spreads optimism. He isn’t a complainer. And yet, for many years he was growing increasingly ill on account of kidney disease. He saw members of his family succumb to the same disease, and rather than use the possibility of this eventual fate as a crutch, the reason for him to opt out of life and be miserable, he chose to use it as the opposite. It catapulted him forwarded. He is an elite cyclist and an unbelievable triathlete. He’s also a detective with the Domestic Crimes Unit with a police force in the Vancouver area, about an hour outside this city, in Abbotsford. And he talks to us about he maintains perspective in a job that is obviously heartbreaking at times. And, of course, after being the recipient of a healthy new kidney, a gift that altered the trajectory of his future, today he’s avid organ donor advocate.

This is not the episode for people who may be suffering from kidney disease. Or who may be in need of a donor. Or who may be thinking about becoming a donor. This, quite simply, is the episode for every one. Literally, the demographic of today’s episode is absolutely anyone on the planet. Because, as I said, we are all going to go through hard times. And we would all do well to heed Roy’s life philosophy. To suck the marrow out of each day.

When Roy was so so so sick, he was the living embodiment of what is possible even in our darkest days. He took off to Asia, with only 16% kidney function, and qualified for the XTERRA off-road triathlon World Championships in Maui. Today, on the other side of a successful transplant, he is the living embodiment of living big – of making each day count when you’ve been given another chance. Which is something we’re all given. Each morning when we wake up, we’re given another chance.

Roy’s is a story that exemplifies the best of humanity. It showcases just how important the living donor program is, and what kind of person actually steps up to save someone’s life. We hear all about Kevin, the hero of this story; the colleague who changed Roy’s life when he basically said: “Here, you can take one of mine. I don’t need two of them.”

On January 14th, we say Happy kidney-versary, to Roy and Kevin. And at the same time, I will say a Happy 1-year kidney-versary to my mom, Sheila, and to my mother-in-law, Jane, who share a similar story to Roy and Kevin, when my mom donated a kidney to Jane last November 30th. See? I am surrounded by greatness.

There’s a lot of sniffling in this episode. While I do live with two toddlers who’ve had colds for the better part of the last couple months, the sniffling is because often I just couldn’t hold back the tears.

Despite the beauty and emotion in this episode, the part I just adore above and beyond the obvious, is an added plus. For anyone out there -- we’re at the start of a brand new year -- who might have a goal they want to achieve but who feels it’s bigger than they are, Roy walks us through what it was like to be someone who couldn’t swim one length of a 25-metre pool and then go on to clock a kooky fast 1 hour 6 ironman swim just 11 months later. He walks us through the psychology of that transformation. The net take-away? We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Wherever you are listening from -- today we have people joining in from nearly 50 countries – please let your family know your intentions to be an organ donor. Sign the back of your drivers license. Or, take that act of heroism a step further and pop into your local hospital to learn more about how you can become a living donor. Like Kevin. And like my mom, Sheila.

Unrelated, but every bit as important, Roy and I talk about his role in Domestic Crimes. If you are experiencing an unhealthy relationship, and a growing sense of isolation, please reach out to someone as soon as you can. Do not suffer in silence.

Keep in touch with me at MJDionne.com. And check out the Podcaster tab for all things pertaining to Roy and in particular, how you can learn more about organ donation.

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