John Brookes was given three months to live after contracting a rare disease in the wake of a cyclone.
Now five years later, he's preparing for the 5km Canberra Times Fun Run on November 6.
In 2016, Mr Brookes went to Fiji to raise awareness after Cyclone Winston devastated the country.
The cyclone flattened entire villages as winds of up to 325km/h and waves 12 metres high battered the nation.
"I was there for a year-and-a-half. With the cyclone and the general sanitation I picked up a rare disease from the water," he said.
"Suddenly, I find myself feeling quite bad and very shaky. Then I started vomiting blood."
After going to the local hospital he was medically evacuated to Australia.
"My lungs had collapsed, I was on a ventilator and among various other things my liver was in failure, my kidneys in renal failure. I was in a pretty bad way. The veins that go to your heart, they had burst in my chest," Mr Brookes said.
Once out of hospital, he experienced a period of homelessness before accessing community housing in Canberra.
Doctors told Mr Brookes in 2017 that his condition was terminal and he had three months to live.
Mr Brookes picked a grave site, his mother came to visit from the UK, and he started thinking about how he would like to be remembered after his death.
He reached out to artist Professor John Hyatt in the UK to commission a portrait. After months of conversations between the two the painting was complete. Mr Brookes found the experience cathartic and it had helped him piece together the puzzle of his life.
As a result, he set up a non-profit called Cranberry Communications to support people through art. Their latest exhibition "Pictures of You", opens at Belconnen Arts Centre in December.
While still impacted by his illness, Mr Brookes is running to fundraise for future projects.
"Five years ago, I couldn't walk and I had to relearn, I had to relearn to talk after they finally took the tube out of my throat," he said.
"Training for the run gives me a physical sense of purpose."
Registrations are now open for the Canberra Times Fun Run.
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