At 25 years of age, most young men are settling into their studies or their careers with sights set on a bright future.
For Dylan Theuerkauf, this is no different. What lies in Dylan’s past however is an incredible story of overcoming life changing setbacks; to fight back and never give in.
Dylan’s story is one of and determination and positivity.
This is Dylan’s story.
Three years ago Dylan was a 22 year old young man, keen on dirt bikes and things that moved quickly. Dylan was a typical 22 year old living on the Sunshine Coast and enjoying the lifestyle such a place has to offer, however in a moment Dylan’s life would be turned upside down.
“I was on a dirt bike (up near Gympie). I loved dirt bike riding; I was obsessed with it. It was my new motorbike and I was really obsessed with it. It was this dream motorbike I’d always wanted it my whole life and then I’d finally gotten it.”
“It was a bit too fast for what I could comprehend, it was a bit too quick.”
What happened next, nearly took Dylan’s life.
“I don’t remember much; I really don’t remember the whole week. I smashed my skull and I was in an induced coma for about 12 days. I had heart surgery because I broke six ribs and one of my ribs pierced the main muscle to my heart. I broke my pelvis in three different places, I broke my hip and I’ve got a steel rod in my leg. I had a fractured skull and a few other things.”
“I lacerated my urethra and I needed urethral surgery, I spent about 10 months with a catheter on. That was one of the most horrible things I’ve ever experienced, just 10 months of constant pain.
Recovery for Dylan was slow and painful, anyone could forgive a 22 year old for throwing in the towel and giving up, this is too hard, this is simply too hard. Dylan is not any 22 year old.
Doctors told Dylan he would have to learn to walk again following the accident, a conversation he recalls having with his mother.
“For the motorbike accident I had to keep going down to Brisbane, I had to learn how to walk again”
“That was pretty rough. Not remembering anything and then waking up to being told of this news was a bit mind blowing. Being told that I had to learn how to walk again, I didn’t accept that. I said to Mum; Mum I’ve been walking for 22 years I’m pretty sure I know how to do it but I did have to learn how to walk again and that was pretty rough to have to take in.”
“When you’re put in a situation like that you don’t realise how strong you are until you have to find that strength within you to just keep going. Anyone can do it, it’s all about perspective and mindset and moving forward.”
As Dylan began to recover from his injuries, he saw an opportunity in his life to enrol in university. With the application submitted, weeks later the unthinkable happened.
“I applied for Uni and then I got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was first diagnosed sometime last year, I can’t remember exactly when. Chemo brain messed me up a bit. I don’t remember much of that.”
“In the first couple of weeks after I was diagnosed I kind of just laid there and felt like I had no one and I felt like I was by myself. The happiest people I’ve met are the people sitting there in the chair next to me getting chemotherapy.”
During his recovery from the motorbike accident, Dylan got in touch with STEPS Employment Services in Nambour. Lance Shiels, Dylan’s employment solutions partner recalls.
“Dylan came onto the case load right before he found out about his diagnoses. Dylan came onto the case load because of the injuries he sustained on the motorbike and he wasn’t too sure what kind of work he wanted to target and then he got the diagnoses for the cancer and there was so much unknown.”
At this point, no one would blame Dylan for giving in, for refusing to keep pushing forward. Dylan however, would have none of it, crediting his amazing fightback and recovery to one thing.
“Other than the support of my family, I felt totally alone – but you have to keep your mind going and keep doing stuff, you don’t let it hold you back. You are only limited by your own mind so you can keep pushing forward. You have to keep up the connection with other people, you can’t sit back and dwell on it, you have to keep pushing through and do what you can do.”
“All you can do is do your best and keep moving forward because there is always a good outcome no matter how bad things seem, there’s always someone out there that is worse off than you.
STEPS Employment Services provided Dylan with an avenue to remain engaged and throughout his chemotherapy treatment, he kept his appointments and continued to turn up.
“There were times throughout Dylan’s treatment and chemotherapy where he couldn’t work but he was still engaging with us. He was still coming in for appointments to connect which was really good. It comes back to Dylan’s determination to keep on coming in and engaging. You know, he had some pretty rough days but to just keep coming back into the office to chat was really good.”
Dylan was still as eager as ever to get his qualification and while undertaking chemotherapy treatment, an opportunity with STEPS Education and Training came up. Dylan enrolled in the Youth Care Sunshine Coast Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Disability, Home and Community) and never looked back.
“I was going through chemo and as soon as this opportunity came up, I got a call about it. I thought this will be good. I could do something towards becoming an occupational therapist and help other people that have been through similar things to what I’ve been through. I can empathise and understand what others are going through.”
“To come out of all of this with a qualification, I mean I’m pretty happy.”
Motivated by the desire to help others, such as the people who helped Dylan throughout his motorbike accident and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma recovery, Dylan is a man motivated by his own experiences to work to make the community a better place.
“I just want to help other people, just lift other people up. It costs nothing to be a good human, so I just want to be good to other people. It’s what’s it’s all about at the end of the day. I understand what it’s like to go through all of that and to be able to help other people, you know; you kind of know so it makes sense.”
The support provided by STEPS trainers really helped Dylan to succeed in his studies and achieve his goal of becoming qualified.
“It was good, there was a lot of support, so it was helpful. The computer stuff I fell a bit behind on because I’m not much into computers, but I got the support I needed to help me get through, it’s all in asking for help.”
“When you have a bit of ambition and some goals, you just push through because you know that waking up another day is another day for a new opportunity.
“I definitely recommend the course. It’s good, you can get qualified. I would recommend it because there is a lot of support so if you feel like you’re getting stuck you can get the help and support you need to get through it.”
Dylan hopes that his story of courage, perseverance and resilience will help inspire people who are doing tough.
“If it can help someone else than that’s the goal. The way I see it, it’s not about me it’s about helping someone else that might need it, someone else that is in that situation and they feel alone and feel like they’ve got nothing left to just pull the strength out of them and to keep moving forward.”
“When you don’t accept the condition, you’re in, you’re only limited by your own belief. Don’t accept the situation, change it. Like I said, each day you wake up is a new opportunity to do something different.”
Dylan has graduated with his Certificate III in Individual Support and is now realising his dream working with two organisations on the Sunshine Coast as a Support Worker.