Defying the odds comes naturally to local Greymouth legend Josh Komen. Having already survived leukaemia – twice – he’s now setting his sights on a new challenge in the hope of giving back to those who helped him on his journey.
On March 29 Josh will attempt to set New Zealand’s unofficial ice-bath record at Rānui House in Christchurch. The challenge involves sitting in a bath of ice-cold water, in Josh’s case for up to 20-minutes, using specialised breathing techniques to help pass the time. The temperature of the water will be about two to three degrees – about ten degrees colder than the water from your cold tap.
Josh will be joined by some well-known Kiwis who will also embrace the cold for Rānui House. Everyday Kiwis can also join the fundraiser by signing up to Josh’s Two-Week Cold Shower Challenge.
“Through my epic health battles I’ve learnt that by embracing challenges, I could thrive. I want Kiwis to embrace their own challenge, get cold and help Rānui House continue to provide the home-away-from-home for everyday Kiwis just like me,” says Josh.
Josh has recently been announced as an ambassador for Bone Marrow Cancer Trust, and its 26-apartment complex, Rānui House that provides a home-away-from-home for patients and families undergoing treatment at Christchurch hospital. Funds raised through Josh’s ice-bath record attempt will go towards rejuvenating the nine original apartments, known as ‘Little Rānui’, which were built 30 years ago.
Josh and his family spent 474 nights at Rānui House between 2011 and 2016 while he was battling Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a type of cancer of the blood. He describes Rānui House as the “saving grace” for him and his family.
“It was the most challenging and desperate time of my life, but Rānui House and the people there were my lifeline – a beacon of hope during a very dark time. Rānui House helped save my life.”
Today, Josh is healthy and believes ice-therapy has played a huge role in reclaiming his physical and mental health. As qualified oxygen advantage breathing instructor, Josh says the techniques he gained from his learnings have enabled him to remain calm and comfortable, despite the extreme cold his body is being subjected to.
“I still remember how I felt after my first cold shower. I was fully focused, alert and pain-free for several hours afterwards. Ever since then I’ve been training my body and mind through ice therapy, practising breathing exercises designed to maximise oxygen uptake and supporting me to endure the cold for increasingly longer periods of time,” says Josh.
“For me the ice bath is an analogy for life. When we get thrown into an uncomfortable situation we want to run away, but it’s about giving people the confidence that they can confront an unknown situation and they can grow from it.”
Bone Marrow Cancer Trust CEO Mandy Kennedy says everyone at Rānui House is buzzing about the upcoming ice-bath record attempt.
“Josh has been through the most gruelling journey you can imagine, and yet he’s come through it with humility, strength and the energy to give back to his community. His passion and drive is infectious and we are so excited and thankful for all he is doing to raise awareness for Rānui House and the work we do,” says Mandy.
Josh is now in training for his unofficial NZ ice-bath record attempt while calling for Kiwis to join him by signing up to his Two-Week Cold Shower Challenge in support of Rānui House.
“Over the years Rānui House has supported thousands of Kiwi families facing the biggest challenges of their life. It’s been a place of warmth, respite and care for thousands of families, including mine. Now it’s time to give back and show Rānui House a bit of love.”
To donate to Josh’s record-breaking attempt or participate in the Two-Week Cold Shower Challenge head to www.ranuihouse.org.nz .