'Stay positive': Disability and cancer can't hold Bill back
ON Australia Day long weekend in 1983, Bill Wessling's life took a dramatic turn, never to be the same again.
On that day, the former railway worker went into a backyard swimming pool with family.
In a freak accident, he slipped into the pool and broke his neck.
"I half dove and half fell,” he said.
"I remember hitting the ground and I just sunk down.”
"My cousin and their son pulled me out of the water.
"If they weren't there I would probably still be on the bottom.”
Mr Wessling has spent every day since in a wheelchair.
This was obviously a lot for the then 28-year-old to deal with, but he just got on with life.
"I spent 10 months in Kingaroy Hospital at the spinal unit,” he said.
Initially he had no use of his arms or legs, but after nearly a year of rehabilitation, it slowly came back.
"I have 80 per cent use of my right hand and nothing in the other,” Mr Wessling said.
"I have a bit of movement in my right leg and none in the other.
"It's all over the place.”
For the first few years after the accident, Mr Wessling sat around the house watching TV and spent the majority of his days experiencing life from the sidelines.
"The first few years I didn't do much,” he said.
"I used to go out on the road and push around a bit.”
But when Gumnut Place opened in Murgon in 1988, Mr Wessling realised he had a lot to offer the community.
"That was the best thing that ever happened,” he said.
The passionate employee was there the day Gumnut Place opened and 31 years later, he proudly boasts that he is still at the now CTC run organisation.
”It's great to be part of something and earning a little bit of money,” he said.
Living life in a wheelchair has its challenges, but recently those challenges got that much harder.
Doctors told Mr Wessling he had a melanoma in his right eye and it would have to be removed.
"I got up one morning and it was all stuck together,” he said.
Doctors initially thought it was conjunctivitis, but on closer inspection, they realised it was something a lot more serious.
"They helicoptered me down to Brisbane,” he said.
"It took them a week to find out that it was a melanoma right in the middle of my eye.
"I'm just lucky it never got out of the eye.”
After some of the cards Mr Wessling has been dealt, he'd be forgiven for seeing the world as 'glass half empty'.
But the CTC employee doesn't really get down on himself too much.
"You gotta make the best of what you got,” he said.
"It's no good getting down and grumpy. You've got to try to look on the positive side.”
He had some encouraging advice for anyone who may be experiencing tough times and is struggling to get out of their dark place.
"Always try to stay positive, look at the good side, he said.
After 31 years at Gumnut Place, Mr Wessling has no thoughts of leaving.
"I don't think I'll be here another 30 years, but I hope to be there a bit longer,” he said.
"I might end up being a ghost there.”