What is your why?

It is a real cliché in this world… employers all asking prospective employees, “What is your why?” It is a simple question but a powerful one, and a question that many people struggle to answer. However, Greg Strang, Risk Insurance Senior Adviser, has a very poignant “why,” which he explains below.

In August 2003 I discovered that I had a tumour the size of a size 7 egg growing on my pituitary gland. It was picked up due to it putting pressure on my optic nerves – by definition, I was almost blind, and my driver’s licence was taken from me.

The options on treatment were:

  1. Do nothing – but there was a 2% chance of it being malignant. Also, there was a 100% chance of becoming totally blind.
  2. Surgery – there was a 50% chance of the optic nerves collapsing and becoming totally blind. Given those options, I had the surgery.

Initially I thought the surgery would involve having to shave my head and ending up with a “tough man” scar but no. It involved removing my nose and creating a space the size of a 50 cent piece for the surgeons to enter. I was also told that the recovery time would be six months.

The surgery went well but they were unable to remove all the tumour because of its proximity to one of the major arteries in my brain. They also removed 50% of my pituitary gland – the performance of the gland would have to be monitored for the rest of my life, as if this gland struggles or fails – you die!

Having listened to my surgeon’s advice, after 10 days I returned to work. Bad mistake – after a week my body told me to back off and I slept for 40 hours.

I decided after that to take it slowly. While I had trauma cover, the 1999 version did not cover benign brain tumours, but fortunately I had Income Protection cover so I was okay financially.

Post-surgery, I was having three monthly blood tests to check the pituitary function and an annual MRI scan to check what the remainder of the tumour was doing. Unfortunately, two years later it had grown back.

Surgery was not an option because of its proximity to a major artery so stereotactic radiotherapy was the only option. This differs to usual radiotherapy in that it is pin-point accurate – the treatment needed to be targeted precisely in order to avoid cooking my eyes, optic nerves, brain etc (although some people have teased that my brain was fried already).

A titanium frame was built which involved an imprint taken of the back of my head and a mouthguard created. This was then fixed to my head and then I was bolted to the table. Measurements were taken and there was a tolerance of half a millimetre over 30 measurements. Five days a week for six weeks, this was my lot. So far, the treatment has been successful. The tumour is not growing and has in fact shrunk. The pituitary is functioning okay, but I need to have a testosterone injection every three months – this is really unpleasant as it is extremely thick and injected into my backside. Four millilitres takes four minutes to inject!

In addition to this, I am having six monthly blood tests and meet with my Endocrinologist annually – for the rest of my life.

I’m lucky as so many people are not so fortunate.

Why am I telling you all this? Because this is my “why”. This is what motivates me in the insurance industry.

We all know that the types of surgery and treatments have made significant advancements over the past 5 – 10 years, as have the types of available insurance contracts. While you or your clients may have an insurance program in place, it could well be that the cover held is either outdated or the type of cover is inappropriate for their current needs.

Aside from the fact that the premiums can be substantial, it is more important that clients are paying a premium reflective of their needs and hold the most up to date cover possible. If my tumour had presented itself today, I would have received substantially more from my insurance contract than I did back then. So, what is my “why”? To ensure that everyone I meet with has the opportunity to explore whether or not the insurance cover they hold is relevant, appropriate and going to do the job they believe it will do.

Speak to your adviser today to discuss your insurance needs and to review your current situation.