When David Owen's scan "lit up like a Christmas tree", the Warrnambool City councillor knew just how big a battle he faced after being diagnosed with stage three prostate cancer.
Cancer runs in David's family. As the eldest of four, he was the last of his siblings to be diagnosed with it - his two brothers have battled prostate cancer and his sister has ovarian cancer.
"All four of us are at different stages from palliative to stage one," he said.
David hopes that blood samples taken from each of his siblings will help researchers discover if there are any genetic links - a finding he said could help others in the future, or even members of his own extended family.
Being diagnosed with cancer in September came as a shock to David who then had to undergo chemotherapy every three weeks for 18 weeks.
"One day I walked out of the house to go to the doctor and came back a little later with cancer," he said.
In the 15 months between check-ups, David's PSA levels had gone from normal to 109 "which was very aggressive cancer".
"I had a PET scan done in Ballarat in the early stages...and I lit up like a Christmas tree," he said.
"Some of my lymph nodes showed where the cancer had gone. That PET scan really woke me up to how advanced it was and how lucky I was that it hadn't gone to my bones or punctured a major organ."
David said his only symptoms up until that point were tiredness and urinary problems. For someone who was fit and had always been actively involved in the surf lifesaving club, David said he had struggled to maintain his energy levels.
When David asked the urologist how much time he might have left, he was told anywhere from 15 months to 10 years. "How are you supposed to deal with that?" he said.
"But it was important to me to get on with the business of living and to keep working.
"I could have chosen not to but I didn't want to focus on the illness which would have become a ball and chain stopping me from what I wanted to do.
"My wife said that my manic nature kicked in.
"For myself and my siblings, our diagnosis was just words and numbers. It's not what's going on with our bodies that matters to us but rather getting on with the task of being alive.
"I am nevertheless prepared for what comes. I think I'm in a better place than I would have been 10 months ago. It's part of my life now."
After the diagnosis, David took the advice of a close friend, Paul Buchanan, and got himself, and his house in order. He got his will done, sorted out the CD and record collection and cleaned out the garage. "I didn't want to leave any messes behind," he said. He said Paul was there in the early stages when he needed help to meditate.
David said his friend John Whitson from the surf club was also invaluable, helping him to "pull himself together" by getting out in the surf and catching a few waves.
But David says he's one of the lucky ones. After his course of chemotherapy which he completed in February, his body has responded "pretty well " and his PSA levels have returned to normal.
He now faces blood tests every three months and hormone injections every four, but the treatment has "put everything on pause".
The hair that he lost is starting to grow back, and 10 of the 20 kilograms that he'd lost, he's put back on.
But he said the chemotherapy had taken its toll. "I have trouble just standing up and haven't got the strength in my legs or feet at the moment," he said. "The chemo is actually pretty nasty stuff. It knocked me around a bit.
"But it knocks everyone around so I'm not unique but it feels like I've got sand in my socks and my feet and fingertips are numb.
"There are different types of chemo but none of it pleasant. A lot of people choose not to take it and I thought about not taking it but I probably wouldn't be here now if I hadn't."
Throughout his treatment David continued his work at Lifeline, as a city councillor and a volunteer life saver. "There were days when I could barely walk up Liebig Street to work but it's amazing how one can push one's body," he said.
And while he didn't give up his work at the surf lifesaving club, he did step down as club captain.
Just four days after one of his chemo treatments, he was back in the surf with John Whitson, saving one of two swimmers from almost certain death at Granny's Grave.
Despite what he has been through, David said that most of the time he was "joyous". "I really am quite happy," he said.
"I'm not unique. There are millions of people going through the same thing as me right now to lesser and greater degrees."
He said the experience had helped him to understand what his siblings, as well as those on the cancer ward, were going through. "If you don't experience something you really don't get it," he said.
Once he was diagnosed, David said he put his faith in the "wonderful" doctors, the medication and the staff at St John of God hospital he described as "angels".
With wife Lisa's help, he also cleaned up his diet. It was out with the burgers and chips and in with a more plant-based, holistic diet.
"All the healthy stuff," he said. "I've never actually felt better. I feel alive physically, emotionally and spiritually.
"The hardest thing was knowing the effect it had on my immediate family. Lisa stayed strong, though I knew she was struggling. Her way of helping was to research all the possible foods that may aid in my recovery and then make me eat them!"
But the journey has taken its toll emotionally and physically.
"It's who I am now. I'm David Owen with cancer. I don't expect it to fully go away. One does hear about miracles all the time, about those who survive it. I know I've got this covered," he said.
"This illness frightens people.
"When someone is diagnosed it's spoken of in hushed tones and no-one wants to be that person with cancer. I didn't want to be the person who had such a depressing effect on people."
While multiple genes may be to blame for his condition, David said he wondered if all the photographic chemicals he used over his 40 years in the industry could have contributed.
Or perhaps the chemicals in the ground where he grew up - his childhood home was built on top of a former Sebastopol gold mine. "Or it could have been too many sweets, or the talcum powder, or stress? Who knows what the triggers are?"
David said the cancer battle was not just a physical one but a mental one too.
While he's embarrassed to admit it now, he remembers the day when he started seeing flashes and stars and was convinced that the cancer had spread to his brain. "Every pain you get once diagnosed, you think the cancer's spread," he said.
David said he was lucky to have so many people around him to support him - from his immediate family, Lisa and kids Skye and James, to his fellow councillors and council staff, his colleagues at Lifeline and the surf club.
"It has been a joy to me, that James and fiance Mikayla have come back home to live and we're all looking forward to their wedding in September," he said.
While he admits it might seem a strange concept, David said that having cancer had had a positive influence on his life, changing him in many surprising ways.
"I now realise the importance of spending time with family and friends but also the urgency of trying to leave this world in a better state and with more hope that it has now," he said.
"We're on borrowed time and so is our planet.
"Much more of my time is now given to waking people up to the need to heal and save our beautiful world.
"Locally, as a community we've got to act quickly. Cancer sharpens your awareness of what's important and what could be more important than that?"