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Denis Smit


About the author - Denis Smit

Denis Smit, who is based in Johannesburg, is the Managing Director of one of South Africa’s leading ICT advisory and consulting firms. He is a dedicated family-man who enjoys listening to music and keeping in touch with the latest tech trends. He is also an avid amateur photographer, having won awards for his wildlife shots and was once a serious amateur cyclist.

In 1991, at the age of 32, Denis started experiencing pain in his neck. He attributed it to a tough work schedule, and sought relief through physiotherapy and other non-invasive methods. But when the pain started to overwhelm his life Denis sought help from the experts.

In 1993 a neck neurosurgeon recommended fusing vertebrae in the neck. Thus began Denis’s epic medical odyssey. In his desperation to end the pain he sought every possible cure. His search was not limited to conventional medicine, and also included a wide array of natural and alternative cures. As things got worse, so Denis’s choices became starker. One of his options was a cingulectomy – a type of lobotomy that would dull his emotions so he would not care about the pain.

After more than ten years of battling constant pain Denis became dependent on opiate-based medicines. In 2003, while in rehab, he read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography It’s Not About the Bike. Armstrong’s story of surviving cancer helped Denis come to terms with his new identity: chronic pain survivor. With this shift in attitude Denis re-appraised his situation from a “higher-order mind perspective”. With the heart to live, and the intellect to work out the practical steps in how to go about living, Denis began to piece his life back together. What followed was a slow journey towards recovery and wholeness. In 2010 Denis felt the need to share his story with a wider audience. After completing a rough manuscript of Pain Beyond Belief he teamed up with a professional writer, Angus Douglas, to publish a book that is an important resource for families dealing with chronic illness.

Denis still has “more bad days than good day”, but he has discovered that suffering can be transformational and that in spite of our challenges we are called to choose life and to choose love. This is something Denis has done with courage and grace.


Angus Douglas


About the author - Angus Douglas

Angus Douglas is one of Johannesburg’s leading corporate writers. He specialises in taking complex, industry-specific text – be it economics, finance, banking or engineering – and making it accessible to a broader audience. He has worked with the country’s major organisations, and written speeches for notable captains of industry.

Angus has been involved in theatre as an actor, writer, director and teacher for 25 years. Over the past 15 years he has partnered with Tim Sandham in writing and producing numerous productions, mainly dealing with the life and works of Herman Charles Bosman. As an expert on Herman Charles Bosman, Angus is regularly invited to speak at The Bosman Festival in Groot Marico. His most recent talk, Jan Smuts and the Soul of the White African, deals both with Bosman and with the mixed historical legacy of the world statesman Jan Smuts.

Angus and Tim recently teamed up with famous voice-over artist Malcolm Gooding for Malcolm’s debut theatre performance in Going Gooding. The show received a great response from critics and audiences alike. Angus is currently working with Tim and Malcolm to produce an audio-book called Going Gooding.

As a speaker and writer Angus is dedicated to bringing a fresh perspective to South Africa’s conflicted past, and developing a new narrative that all South Africans can feel proud of. He also offers a values perspective in solving organisational challenges. The values paradigm offers a fresh outlook on how individuals, and groups, experience and express their life journey. There is a huge body of evidence that shows how human consciousness evolves – from egocentric to ethnocentric, from ethnocentric to world-centric. It’s Angus’s mission to help leaders broaden their philosophical perspective, and learn new and empowering ways of framing challenges.


About the book - Pain Beyond Belief: The Night Sea Journey of Chronic Pain


3D Cover Denis Smit


Do you Suffer from Chronic Pain?

Do you suffer from chronic pain, or does someone close to you suffer from chronic pain? Are you caught in a cycle of hope and despair as you try overcome your suffering? Pain Beyond Belief offers the reader an engaging account of Denis Smit’s 25-year struggle with chronic, intractable pain and his path towards a full, rewarding life.

A Roller-coaster of Hope and Despair

Chronic illness sufferers carry the burden of endless decisions. We live in a world of unlimited choice, this can be a curse for those desperately seeking a cure, as they become consumed with trying everything out there in the hope that it could be a silver bullet.

Denis’s journey of chronic pain takes him on a roller coaster of hope and despair as he tries every possible remedy, both conventional and unconventional, to end his suffering.

When Denis finds himself experiencing chronic neck pain he proactively seeks a cure, at first trying massage and other non-invasive treatments. But when these prove unsuccessful, out of desperation he puts himself under the surgeon’s knife. After multiple surgeries, life threatening infections, disability, depression and drug dependence Denis recognises that salvation lies beyond the quick-fix. After plumbing the depths of his soul he finds solace in acceptance, and peace beyond the trauma.

‘Why me?’ Versus ‘Try Me!’

Denis’s story offers the reader a soulful and authentic account of dealing with chronic pain. As someone who has ‘tried it all’ Denis is well-placed to offer practical insights on how to live a full life in the face of chronic pain. He adopts a soulful perspective on his inner journey, and a scientific approach to the physical realities of pain. Through his journey Denis explores how the messy reality of illness lays waste to ideology and even to faith. For him relief is not found in competing belief systems, but rather in the choice of attitude: the ‘why me?’ attitude versus the ‘try me!’ attitude. This sentiment, and Denis’s indomitable spirit, shine through on each page.

“I am suffering from chronic pain, and I’ve lost all hope.”

If these words resonate with you, then you’ll benefit greatly from Pain Beyond Belief. Author Denis Smit does not claim to have all the answers, in fact he still suffers from chronic pain, but through his vivid and candid depiction of pain he shows how life can be lived beyond the suffering. The book does not take one particular standpoint on the cause of pain, and is both soulful and scientific in approach. Sometimes suffering is an opportunity to do consciousness work, and other times it’s a matter of simply getting on with it.

No-one knows why we suffer

No-one knows why we suffer. In our scientific, quick-fix age we’ve forgotten that suffering is not something to get rid of, but rather an invitation to live a richer, more authentic life. Pain Beyond Belief describes the perils of ignoring this invitation, and the redemption of accepting it. It not only follows the story of one man’s struggle to heal, but also provides practical guidance in how to cope with living with constant pain.

Pain Beyond Belief– a must-read for overcoming chronic illness

Maybe you’ve read every possible self-help book, but still it did not help. Pain Beyond Belief is not a self-help book, but a testimony of suffering. If you are ready to challenge your beliefs, ready to challenge spiritual myths about endless bliss, and be real about what it takes to live with chronic illness, then this book is for you.


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