Just over four months ago Waikato harness racing driver Simon Lawson was living the dream. The 19-year-old had just won the New Zealand Junior Driving Championship and had landed a drive on harness racing's biggest day - the Hambletonian meeting at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
That was August 7. This week he said he was just lucky to be alive. Lawson has spent the last five days in Waikato Hospital after having one foot (30 centimetres) of his small intestine cut out by doctors.
"I had been suffering from an on-going bowel infection for a couple of years and it had been building up for some time. When I went to see a specialist recently he demanded that I went to hospital to have surgery. If I didn't - in time I would have died," Lawson said.
Lawson now has a huge appreciation of life.
"The two people I was with in hospital had bowel cancer and one of them was told he had just three months to live. I'm so grateful for the life I have. There are a lot of people out there who haven't been as fortunate as me," the brave Hamilton-based horseman said.
Lawson said he was so sick he wasn't even able to watch the trots at Alexandra Park last Friday or today (Tuesday December 14).
"I just didn't have the energy. I had managed the problem with pills up until now. Now I don't have to do that but I also know that I have been lucky," he said.
Lawson is one of New Zealand's promising young reinsman. He works for Graeme Rogerson just out of Hamilton. He has been driving for just three seasons and in that time has reined home 68 winners, 102 place-getters and won just under $500,000 in stakes.
By Duane RANGER (editor)