Stephen Larkham

Head Coach, Brumbies Super Rugby Team, Canberra

It’s been more than ten years since David McDonald became the Brumbies’ team chaplain. In my early years as a player I didn’t speak to Dave much. Religion wasn’t something I needed in order to be a good player. I know now I was very naïve, not necessarily about the religion part but about what Dave actually offered to the team. Since retiring from playing and becoming a coach, I’ve spoken to Dave more and more often. He sits in the background not as a crazy stalker, but as a passionate supporter. He’s a good listener and down to earth. He’s not like your typical chaplain—I don’t want to offend your typical chaplain, but he’s not.

Dave was admitted to hospital in the first week of December 2011, one week after my mum passed away. She had been diagnosed with stage-4 bowel cancer just six weeks earlier, and given no hope of cure. During those six weeks after her diagnosis, I battled a huge amount of anxiety and spent many sleepless nights. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I spent all my time trying to find something that would fix Mum.

As I read Dave’s book for the first time, I had to compose myself and dry my eyes on many occasions. I had only ever seen cancer from one side, and I realized I wasn’t looking for a fix for Mum—I was looking for hope. I have found this hope in Dave’s book, and in Dave himself.

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