Fighting the good fight, again
AS HE gets ready to turn 82 on Sunday, Graham Husband is preparing to fight cancer for the third time in as many years.
Last week, Mr Husband was diagnosed with cancer in both lungs, after having previously battled and beaten both colon and oesophageal cancer.
Mr Husband said he and wife Melba were ready.
"I had some small nodules on each lung and at the last screening they were shown to be growing,” he said.
"I go in for chemo in April.
"It's just another hiccup, we've been through all this before.”
Mr Husband and his bride of 59 years have been living in Warwick since 1991, but his history with our city goes back much further than that.
"My great-grandfather settled here in 1849, out at Toolburra Station,” Mr Husband said.
"He was a convict and had earlier been at a prison on the Isle of Wight for recalcitrant boys.
"They were taught a trade there and he learnt to become a boot-maker.
"Which is how he got in trouble, he stole from his employer and they sent him to Australia.
Mr Husband was born in Brisbane in 1935 and at the age of 10, moved to Warwick.
The family settled at Risdon Station, 10 kms south of Warwick and Mr Husband recalled the time with fondness.
"I remember Warwick clearly from those days,” he said.
"The main street was lined with palm trees and there were bike racks everywhere, and they were always full of bikes.
"It was the days of steam trains, and over near the railway there, it was a bustling little area.”
Mr Husband said his father worked as a gardener at the station.
"We lived in a little house on the station,” he said.
"All the kids did school by correspondence, because we were too far from the nearest school.
"The mail man would bring our lessons once a month and we'd send them back with him a month later.”
Mr Husband said the mail man would also bring bread and milk once a week as needed.
"If the cow wasn't milking or if we needed something else from town, my brother, he was nine years old and I was 10, would walk into Warwick for supplies.
"It was about 10kms so would take quite a few hours to get to the shop near the hospital and back home.”
These days Mr Husband is a little closer to that shop, living in Regency Park.
After a few years in Warwick, the family headed to Wallangarra for a year then to Brisbane, where Mr Husband completed school at 14 and got a job as a "lad porter”.
"It was a junior role at the train stations,” Mr Husband said.
"I used to do a lot of menial tasks like cleaning and refilling the kerosene signal light boxes.”
From there Mr Husband said joined the police force as a cadet until he was 17 but didn't go on with it, joining the Navy instead.
"It was a family thing, my father had been in the navy and both my brothers as well,” he said.
"I was drafted to the HMAS Sydney, an aircraft carrier, and in late 1953 we set sail for Korea.”
Mr Husband said he arrived in Korea during the armistice period of the Korean War.
"We saw no action, but patrolled Korean waters and the threat was always there,” he said.
"We were shadowed by Russian subs everywhere we went.”
Mr Husband said life on the warship was a huge adventure for an 18-year-old man.
"The conditions were pretty rugged,” he said.
"But it was fun.
"I got to see Seoul, Okinawa, Japan, Hong Kong and Singpore along the way.”
Mr Husband remained in the Navy until 1959 before leaving and joining the Brisbane City Council.
"I didn't really leave the Navy though, I stayed a reserve until 1990,” he said.
"Melba and I had married in 1958 too.
"We'd know each other since we were about 16.
"So I became a tram driver for the council and later worked on the buses.
"Driving a 30 tonne tram along the tracks was pretty easy but great fun, I loved it.”
From there Mr Husband spent some time working in banking before being retrenched in 1991.
"It was the time when the banks shed about 4000 jobs,” he said.
"One of them was mine.
"So Melba and I moved to Warwick with the promise of a job, but that fell through so I retired a couple of years early.
"We had a big house and garden in Albion St, so there was plenty to do.”
Mr Husband was Warwick RSL Sub Branch president from 1998 until 2008 and was awarded the Centenary Medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.
"That was for my services to the community and pensioner welfare, which I did for about 15 years,” he said.
Of his cancer fight, Mr Husband said the team at St Andrews in Toowoomba were literally life-savers.
"Professor Paul Vasey and the oncology team at the John Stedman Centre, those people are my angels,” he said.
"We've got another battle ahead, but we'll get through.”