RTE screen the harrowing one-hour documentary Every Heart Beats True: The Jim Stynes Story, tonight at 10.40.
The programme tells the story of Dubliner, Stynes, who became a legend in the AFL in Australia, and his battle with cancer over the past 14 months. In an engrossing, emotional, and often harrowing account of his life since discovering the illness,Stynes and his wife Sam, tell of how their life has changed so much over the past year or so.
Despite continuing setbacks, both physical and psychological, Stynes spirit remains unbroken.
“I just think it would be impossible for me not to get better, you know,” he says.
He describes himself as a better person, a better husband and a better father, since discovering he had cancer and deciding that he was going to fight it as hard as he possibly could.
“When faced with death, the ego just drops its barriers,” Stynes says.
“I was losing touch with the family … probably just with life. I needed to live a better life and getting cancer has led me to a much better life. I love my wife much more than I ever loved her, I love my kids more than I ever loved them. I appreciate the moments we have together much more than I ever used to.”
The 44 -year-old describes the anguish that followed the news in June last year that he had cancer “in a number of places”. “It’s challenging not to think the worst when you’re given nine months to live,” he says.
Sam Stynes says her husband’s faith in alternative therapy and medicines have kept him alive: “He’d be dead (otherwise), there’s no doubt about that.”
He meditates daily, has taken up Reiki massage, drinks a special juice mix three to five times a day, and is trying a drug on trial in immuno-therapy. That’s on top of dozens of tablets that come under the heading of orthodox treatment. He is willing to explore anything and everything that might help.
In an extraordinary program on several fronts, particularly its intimacy, Stynes is seen drinking his own urine and administering coffee enemas to flush toxins from his body. The vision is explicit and confronting. It shows what a man is prepared to do in order to win the toughest battle of his life. With the prize being literally that: life itself.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Stynes said he was unfussed about the depth of the detail in the documentary:
“I’ve always tried to be honest. Integrity is the essence of everything,” he says. “We’re never going to be perfect, it’s the endeavour that’s important. Why should I be afraid of people seeing who I really am? You’ve got to walk the talk otherwise you’re full of it.”
“You’ve got to look outside, read books, go to the organisations that are dealing with people with cancer all the time. You’ve got to take responsibility for your own illness; you can’t just keep doing the same thing you were doing all the time and expect things to change. You’ve got to take ownership and you do have to make changes or else your body’s not going to change, it’s going to keep doing the same thing.”
Stynes believes that his extraordinary capacity to cope was natural:
“I get dejected but then I move on quickly. I’m just very lucky that I’ve got that make-up that you’ve just got to get on with it,” he says.
“It’s not going to help anyone, not going to do any one any good (to complain).”
Jim Stynes is satisfied that the finished documentary has achieved its purpose and shows viewers what he intended them to see. It is a unique insight into his life and his daily battle with one of the world’s biggest killers.
“It’s done justice to the real me, which is what I wanted to communicate,” he says.
Every Heart Beats True: The Jim Stynes Story. RTE1 Tuesday 7th December at 10.40