CAMERON WRATHALL came as close to losing his life as anyone would ever want, but at that moment he realised he was no longer afraid of death.
In January, he swam 100 metres from Blackwall Reach’s shore when a three-metre shark struck him.
Months on from the attack, Mr Wrathall is still in recovery but looking forward to a fundraiser organised by the Melville Water Polo Club on July 31 to help kick it along.
“I haven’t had any recovery in the feeling or function in my leg. Where I’ve had recovery is in my general health and strength after being in hospital for a bit over two months,” Mr Wrathall told the Herald.
“Nerve damage can take a couple of years to notice what recovery you have had. Because of my age and because of the damage, I’m not likely to get full recovery I’ve been told.”
Mr Wrathall said he cannot feel his buttock, calf or foot on his left side after the incident.
“My brain doesn’t communicate with the muscles.”
Despite loss in areas, he has gained a greater understanding about himself.
“I’m resilient, I have a lot of good friends and family. I live in a caring community.”
Water polo club coach and committee member Katie Finucane (Coach, Committee member) says the outpouring of support for Mr Wrathall was one of the reasons she signed on to organise the event.
“After the incident there was a huge outpour of people wanting to help Cam out in whatever way possible,” Ms Finucane said.
“Cam had previously been an employee at the Melville Water Polo Club for many years and is a long-term member, so a lot of friends from within the club, but also from the wider community, contacted us to see how they could help.”
Ms Finucane said 180 tickets have already been sold.
“The night will include a sit-down dinner, two stand-up comedy sets from some very talented Perth comedians from Perth Laughs, who have volunteered their time. There will also be games and a silent auction running throughout the night to help raise further funds for Cam.”
Although not one for the spotlight, Mr Wrathall is appreciative for the support.
“It feels fantastic. I feel a little bit anxious because I’m not used to a fuss in regards to myself but I’m extremely grateful and lucky just to be part of a community that would want to do something like this to help out.”
He said the money would go towards medical costs and being able to access other services: “Things like massage and acupuncture, which is not something I can afford at the moment.”
Mr Wrathall is not expected to be able to return to work for a long time.
“I can’t walk properly. I wear a splint and I can’t walk without this [ankle foot orthosis], which holds my foot up. You can get other versions. I’ve seen one in particular that is designed to help with exercise and more rigorous activity like bush walking and these are two things that I enjoy and would like to be able to do in the future.”
He may never get recovery in his foot meaning he would possibly need to wear one for the rest of his life.
“Getting one that’s more designed to the lifestyle I’d like to have again, would be great. I would need a couple of thousand dollars.”
Reflecting back on the moment of the attack, Mr Wrathall sees the concept of death differently.
“I did die. As I was dying, I felt very peaceful and content. I now think that it’s nothing.”
Mr Wrathall’s main form of exercise was swimming and he is keen to get back into the water as soon as possible.
“I will swim in the river again because I miss it. This couldn’t happen again.
“You’re allowed to put it on my gravestone if it does.”
Ms Finucane said while ticket sales had been strong, the club wanted to encourage more locals (particularly businesses) to make donations for the night’s silent auction or as a door prize.
Donations can be made by contacting the club at office@ melvillewaterpolo.com.au
by SOFIA PAUL