We all have times in our lives that simply test our very resolve and our ability to carry on.
Cancer is one of those things that most of us cannot control when it strikes, but we need to learn to overcome it, live with it or come to terms with the outcome.
Mike Moore, a thrusting and controversial Labour politician of the 1970s through to the early 1990s, is remembered for many things, but significantly for being the Prime Minister of New Zealand for just 59 days before the 1990 election.
Moore was a man who seemed to have more enemies within his own party than from without.
He was a working-class boy from the wrong side of the tracks in downtown Kawakawa, sent to Dilworth School after his mother was widowed young, gaining a smattering of an education, patchy to say the least because of family circumstances, left school early with one subject in School Certificate and went to work in the local freezing works.
I've been reading about Moore recently in Peter Parussini's book, Believer, but as a young working-class family man, I identified with Moore when he began his political rise in the mid 1970s.
We shared similar backgrounds and had similar views about certain things. He seemed more real to me than the likes of Wallace Rowling and Robert Muldoon although he was probably more like Muldoon in terms of his social conscience than he would have liked.
Moore came into the Labour Party via the union movement, one of the many and disparate factions that make up the modern Labour Party.
What made me notice Moore more than I would probably have had was in 1977 we were both diagnosed with testicular cancer, Moore a well-known politician on the way up and me, an anonymous 24-year-old policeman in Wainuiomata with a wife, baby daughter and two mortgages we could hardly afford.
Moore and I shared, without him knowing of course, months of worry and uncertainty, radical and life-draining treatment, feeling so ill, being dead was preferable. I looked to Moore as we both lost weight and energy.
As the time went by and my treatment seemed to be holding I watched as this young man, three years older than me, fought this dreaded disease. He had a much tougher row to hoe than me with further surgery and treatment for a year or two.
Moore eventually recovered and went on to be the great man he was. I recovered and carried on with my own small life.
Surviving cancer changes many for the rest of their days. Moore, like me, realised his mortality young. We never expected to make old bones, we both worried incessantly about our wives coping, we became scared of no one or nothing.
I remember only wanting to see my 2-year-old daughter grow into womanhood, that's all. A simple wish for a young father.
Moore delighted in baiting Muldoon in the House when everyone was scared of the man. I, as a policeman, faced confrontation regularly on the streets.
Whereas before I would perhaps not be so confident I came to welcome the challenge. Bad situations or people stop scaring many who have faced their mortality and somehow got through.
It takes a special sort of personality and ego to become Prime Minister, even for only 59 days, especially with the machinations of those against you in your own party. Moore believed he may not have had the staying power but for the challenges he faced with his cancer.
Likewise, on a much more humble note, I have always extended myself, took the tough jobs, and did the mahi.
Cancer taught me to face responsibility, be confident and outspoken, to not walk away when things get tough. To try to be a good man to those around me, maybe still a work in progress, it never made me perfect.
Moore put New Zealand on the world stage through his ability to reach across party lines and to make strong friendships with many world leaders. He suffered the fate of most Prime Ministers who lose elections; they are eventually cast out, turned on by their own party.
I will always remember a television clip from the early 90s, just after Moore was ousted as leader by the Helen Clark faction of the party.
It shows a Labour Party conference somewhere with, in the background, Moore walking alone in the carpark outside with his hands in his pockets, very much yesterday's man but still strong.
Moore, without him knowing, gave me hope at a very dark time in my life. I had a mate who was going through what I was.
I never met Moore. If I had I may have thanked him for the inspiration he gave me. It is amazing what you look to when you face cancer.