Owen tells doctor 'I'm too busy to die mate'
OWEN Ringrose is a rare type of person, somebody that in the face of adversity steps it up and simply says, "I'm too busy for that," getting on with the job.
That's exactly what he did when he was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago with a year or two to live, and again last year when he was told he had 24 hours left.
Owen and his wife Trish have been operating iconic Mount Isa trucking business Ringrose Transport since 1985, and in that time they've become known for being the best at what they do; getting food and supplies to the outback.
For most people cancer slows them down, but not Owen, who would have to be one of the most uplifting people you'll ever come across with his get-up-and-go mentality.
Put that infectious zest for life and work together with his wife's optimism and kindness, and the duo are a force to be reckoned with.
"I got diagnosed with prostate cancer 13 years ago, and it didn't cause any drama for pretty much 13 years," Owen said.
Owen's reaction when he was diagnosed, according to Trish, was one of practicality.
"When the doctor says to him 13 years ago, you're going to die in two years, he stood up and said, 'no I'm not, I'm too busy to die mate,'" she said.
After the diagnosis, Owen was back at work in Mount Isa as the company continued to grow, and for the next 12 or so years, he was healthy.
Mid last year, the couple's worst nightmare became a reality when Owen's health took a turn for the worst.
"I got back in the truck in August last year, and I really didn't feel great," said Owen.
"We were going out to tea in Mount Isa and after we put the order in for the food, I had a lie down in the booth.
"I lay down, and then Trish decided we are going to hospital.
"They did a bit of a scan, so they said I had a 16cm liver tumour and have 24 hours to live."
"I came down to Brisbane to a specialist and the top liver surgeon was there, and they still couldn't figure out what it was.
"After a week or so I came home, crashed, then wound up back at hospital."
Owen was in severe pain, day and night, caused by pressure on his sciatic nerve.
"They did a nerve block and it was the best thing, it stopped all the pain," said Trish.
"The cancer was pressing on the sciatic nerve and you just couldn't get away from it. Owen's never had a drink in his life, a good diet and plenty of activity has given him a fighting chance.
"He has got this huge tumour in his liver and its full of cancer, and it's functioning 100%," she said.
The cancer is now growing across the spinal cord and doctors gave Owen only weeks to live in May this year.
"In May they said I'd be in a wheelchair within a week or so, I'm still not," Owen said.
Trish responded quickly, "But, he's still here, and we're going on a holiday on Sunday!"
Owen still won't stop despite all of this, and he's remained as hard a worker as he was when they first kicked Ringrose Transport off.
"He got on the forklift last week and worked all day, drove the trucks around.
"The doctors and the nurses out on the station ask me if Owen knows how sick he is.
"I say, 'yeah'.
"They say, 'we've nevermet somebody so positive,' and I say, 'Yeah, and that's why he's still alive'!"
Ringrose Transport evolved out of a one truck operation in Brisbane, followed by a single truck and trailer operation Owen and Trish ran in Mildura, Victoria.
Owen began his career working overseas doing logging work.
"When we first came back to Australia we had one of the log trucks from Fiji, we brought it back and converted it and put it on the highway," Owen said.
"We moved up to Brisbane and then we bought a lot newer Mack and trailer and subbied for a company out of Brisbane, and we were still running interstate at that point.
"We bought a second truck and had both working on that, then this job came up in Mount Isa."
In a bid to step things up and offer a more specialised service, the duo took on refrigerated produce haulage around the country.
"We took one truck and two flat tops up there and eventually I thought I'd better go up there and see what they're doing.
"They weren't using any fridge van, they were just using flat tops trying to cart the groceries and stuff and dust was getting in everything.
"I said to them, there's a better way, why don't we bring a fridge van up here so you can have frozen, chiller and dry, and you can keep it clean.
"So we did that for a trial run and it worked good."
When the opportunity arose Owen and Trish expanded the operation in Mount Isa with a goal to deliver to remote stations around rural Queensland.
"We were surviving doing what we were doing up there...and it sort of just grew and we finished up covering the whole Gulf.
"It was all good back in those days but things have gone a lot quieter than what they used to be, but I think the whole country is the same.
"We're still doing the same runs, but it's cut back a lot from what we used to do."