Mandurah brain tumour survivor launches book after going blind

John Griffiths, or 'Griffo' as he's known to his friends, has always been a lover of sport, especially soccer.

The Meadow Springs man was born in Birmingham in England and after moving to Australia in 1981, remained a fervent follower of British soccer teams.

The 65-year-old played with a local team in Rockingham until his mid-fifties, and then when he developed a knee problem he switched to golf. During an operation to remove a brain tumour, John developed a bleed on the brain and suffered a stroke which left him with very limited sight. The stroke damaged his left side of the body and changed the course of his life.

Book of life

John is writing a book about his experience going blind after suffering a stroke during an operation to remove a brain tumour.

The tumour was only discovered after a visit to his sons in the Pilbara.

"I was sitting by the pool and one of my sons said 'Dad, you've got no hair on your legs.' When I was next at the doctors, I brought it up and before I knew it, I'd been diagnosed with a massive brain tumour and was in the operating theatre within eight days," John said.

No words can explain how I felt when the operation didn't go to plan, but I'm still here and my therapy has been amazing.

John Griffiths

"No words can explain how I felt when the operation didn't go to plan, but I'm still here and my therapy has been amazing."

A failed operation

When the operation went wrong John was devastated.

"I was still working. Instead of going back to my job, I had a period of nearly a year and a half convalescing. I spent 7 and a half months in hospital. I admit I hit a real low and I am ashamed to say I even felt suicidal,"

Always sports mad, John had been a soccer player and golf enthusiast before the operation four years ago. With a lot of support he's now emerged from those dark days and is now a regular at Exercise Clinic at VisAbility.

I was devastated, I was still working... I admit I hit a real low and I am ashamed to say I even felt suicidal.

John Griffiths

VisAbility Therapy Assistant Kane Perris has been overseeing his program and the two of them have struck up a good rapport.

"With John the stroke led to some muscular imbalances. Muscles surround every joint in the body. They produce and control movement, so if one side is weak then it causes problems. We've developed a personal program targeted to improve his areas of weakness," Kane said.

"I want to able to lift up my legs and run again. I enjoy all the exercise equipment, but the seated row is my favourite because it's making my upper back stronger and improving my biceps so I can become really active again," adds John.

John is trying to find a publisher for his book, which he says he has written for all those who have supported him.

The launch will take place at the Meadow Springs Retirement Village, where he now lives.

"When times get tough, you really notice who your friends are. I have a full life now; I play croquet and I play darts. It's an odd sport to play when you have hardly any sight, but my friends spur me on 'Come on Griffo!' they say. I could never resist a challenge and my vision loss hasn't stopped me."