Inspiration comes in many forms. One such form is the story of a man who travels the world to prove that odds can be beaten and that people should never give up.
In 1987 Randolph Westphal, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma(skin cancer). He ended up having to have lymph nodes removed and doctors told him he most likely would only live for another six months to a year.
Westphal didn’t believe what the doctors had to say. “No doctor can heal you…doctors can treat you and do operations but the healing comes from you, it starts in your mind,” he said. “I am a very good example, I like to live.”
In 1989 Westphal began his travels to prove to himself and to others that, “he wasn’t dead.” For the next almost 25 years, he has shared his story with numerous people in cities and towns throughout the globe.
During those 25 years Westphal has undergone 28 cancer surgeries, four of them life threatening. While riding in Argentina he met with the most dangerous creature he ever met—a human.
Westphal and his companion Shir Khan, a wolf malamute were hit by a truck. The truck actually rolled over the two travellers. “The guy picked me up and threw me in the ditch and covered me up,” said Westphal. Sadly, Shir Khan died at the scene and Westphal was found by a passerby four hours later.
He suffered from loss of speech, taste, smell and his memory. 40 surgeries to keep his leg and a total of five years to recover. Keeping notes and revisiting places he travelled to have helped him recover the memories lost. He has also undergone both hip and knee replacement surgeries.
During a check up in Quebec in 1990 Westphal’s doctor asked if he would like to talk to patients, to share his experience. He agreed and to do so and his first speaking engagement was arranged.
“Many media, television, patients… I am close to heart attack but I start talking,” said Westphal…”I talked to cancer patients, they cried and I thought I had said something incorrect in my bad English.”
Westphal giggles as he explained that the first English he experienced was, “Ladies and gentlemen fasten your seatbelts and stop smoking.” Westphal has since and continues to speak at schools, universities and what ever groups ask him to share his story.
Another of his many achievements was marked in August of 1997 when he received his certificate from Guinness World Records saluting his record of man and dog (Shir Khan) biking-travelling 73,000 km.
On May 4 of this year, 55 year old Randolph Westphal and his family flew into Vancouver from Frankurt Germany to begin his sixth world tour.
Westphal’s family consists of his dogs, Chinook, who is the great grandson of Shir Khan, and Nanook. They are his pets, companions and his protectors. “We have had experience with wolf and bear,” said Westphal, “they take care of me.”
They travel in all weather, in all temperatures. -51 is the coldest temperature they have endured.
Travelling from Hope to Princeton included the, “longest hills I’ve had to climb in 25 years,” said Westphal during a stop at the Sandman Inn in Princeton on May 14.
It was pouring rain during that part of his trip. Westphal had stopped in at Manning Park to rest and even though the park was closed at the time, the manager gave Westphal both food and lodging for a night.
Westphal does his best to keep a budget of under $20 a day to feed him and his family. Support of lodging and donations are most gratefully accepted to aid him in his journey and spreading his message of hope. To explain why he keeps going, Westphal said simply, “The greatest gift God give us is the gift of life – the greatest loss is to return it unopened.”
After a stay at the Evergreen Motel, Westphal continued his journey on through Keremeos. Significant problems with his knee altered his course and he headed towards Kelowna instead of the original plan for Osoyoos. He is currently travelling throughout the Okanagan towards his destination of Alaska.
To follow Westphal while on his journey please visit www.randolph-westphal.de or like him on Facebook www.facebook.com/randolph.westphal