Internal mind games

7th Spetember 2014: London, United Kingdom

The activity of keeping a journal for anyone with Cancer will be stressed as it’s during this very process whereby I am able to identify certain triggers for behaviours and actions. Also, the process of writing allows reason rather than fantasy to prevail. In a recent example, the identified trigger are two simple words, “the mind”. I was approaching a social situation whereby people who I hadn’t seen since becoming unwell would be present. A look into my mind would show thoughts consisting of, how do I show I’m on my A-game, what response is to follow from the age old phrase of ‘so… how are you’. It is the writing process that enables me to see the cause of the problem isn’t the outside projected perceptions. Namely, a perception of everyone now seeing me as that Caner guy. Rather, my internal thought patterns.

Sleep forms one of the key foundations to my belief about my progress. I view it on par with nutrition, stress reduction, movement, meditation, a difference in pace, the power of the mind, and utilising medical expertise. Sleep, has always held importance in my life, however, often overlooked during my past days. At present, I ensure the hours of sleep each night remain paramount. Sleep is at the centre of the story unfolding above. In the lead up to the night whereby I would be meeting others in a social situation, a plastered scorn over my face would have been seen due to the lingering prospect of being placed in another situation where all the questions about Cancer will arise, and an unshifting agnst in regards to whether I would have sufficient sleep. As the night commenved, my scorn disappeared and I was surprised at the feeling of comfort experienced once arriving at the house, party due to the knowledge of not needing nor missing alcohol, and then ease in talking with people. It actually made me think why I had been dwelling on this, and the enjoyment I was having. I them had an instinct that time was getting away and when I glanced at the clock, I noticed it was nearing 12pm. No! Midnight and I’m still out, and oddly enjoying myself. All this went against what I had been believing what was keeping me healthy and alive. A quick discussion with my girlfriend followed, and I made an exit for the door. I was happy to some degree that I was getting home whilst also completing unaware of the critical stance I would soon wage against myself for getting home at 12:30pm. Again hindsight is needed. Really, is this going to be mean I become unwell? Of course not. The difficulty results from the narrative about myself dictating how I am to live and the changes needed to be made in regards to my lifestyle, and getting home past midnight does not feature within this story.

A restless few hours followed as I tussled with the ideas that this isn’t how I should be living and that I needed to head to a tranquil place where I can sleep at 9pm and rise at 6:30am. A series of breathing exercises did little to settle me and my thoughts going to sleep were firmly focused on the dreams about a place with sunshine and waves. I finally managed to sleep, and am clearly able to link this to other circumstances, namely, when I feel a level of guilt for engaging in something I deem not to be health promoting. For example, in the past, I thought enjoying two bottles of beer with my friends was a problem and didn’t suit the created picture for how I would be living my life so consequently I left feeling mixed emotions. I have come to realise the need for a plan, and I’m not advocating for anything in moderation. Instead, living the best life you can, and personally it entails eliminating the periods of guilt experience as they only place stress on my body. Importantly, the consciousness required to remember a life needs to be adopted that is sustainable for the rest of my life. Plus, a life, similar to others where plans can shift.

Nostalgia

6th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

I had a moment over the weekend when everything felt like it needed to change. The weather, noise, lifestyle, diet, everything, just needed immediate changing. It was again an example of the re-occurring mental component of living with Cancer. A description brought to life by conjuring thoughts about an intangible, masked and powerful being, with the capacity of penetrating my thinking from any number of triggers in the surrounding environment. On this occasion it was London. It was my life. My money.

A solution was found in a matter of minutes. It may appear narrow, involving the the mental creation of a change in destination to a sun-ridden place requiring little money, had warm water, quality waves, no noise, and limited people around me. In hindsight, I was seeking a place providing the opportunity to relive the nostalgic memories from the travels of my early twenties. A place with the sense of freedom allowing me to continue writing on a daily basis, a place where I can surf and do yoga in the sun, a place to eat healthy food, and a place where the internet is not accessed by a swipe of the finger. In summary, it’s just a dream, most likely not the same dream for everyone but nevertheless a dream, and hopefully everyone has a dream, be it the person working 11 hour days without a lunch break, the carer responding to the complex needs of their loved one or the person reading this whilst thinking of a life without cancer.

The sensation building of creating the dream a reality convinced me I had found an answer. A google search soon started to eat away at some of the dream and I started to ask myself, was escaping the situation a necessity? Was everything actually as severe as I has gotten myself worked up about or was it just my mind again tempting me to flirt with a feeling of misery, resulting from the uncertainty awaiting me over the coming months/years?

Movement and Cancer

5th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

Today can only be described as one of those days. From the very moment of opening my eyes, I knew the struggle ahead. To make matters worse, the thought of insufficient almond milk in the fridge appeared to be a disaster. Consequnetly, a sedated, blurry eyed version of myself, certain to be mistaken for an individual suffering from a big night walked to the local shop. The day unfolded in a way I’m hoping to become less frequent as time progresses. After breakfast, an observer would have noticed a dishevelled skinny frame wearing his shirt inside outside whilst displaying a sour look scorned across his face laying horizontally on the couch, ready to deal with the tortuous day ahead. I didn’t shift till a proven successful sequence at 4pm deployed on numerous occasions broke this dull feeling. The extremely recommended routine consists of forcing myself to inject some movement into my day. Although it may be the least favourable proposition, particularly with a full hard-drive and a gloomy day (gee it sounds depressing just writing it) sending no sunlight through the closed windows. The sequence is some form of movement followed by breathing/mediation exercises allowing my body and mind to make the necessary shift. The thought of movement when having no energy, not being able to eat and thinking you may tumble when walking may appears ridiculous, however, movement in some form is essential, and on every occasion it has proved successful. The activity doesn’t need to be strenuous, differing for each person, pending their age, capacity, support and surrounding environment, however, I believe it should form a plan that each person with cancer should already have or be in the process of putting together. My choice of movement is yoga. Yes a bit of a cliche these days, and I will admit I was unable to connect with the process prior to falling unwell. The physical, emotional, social and spiritual (for some) benefits obtained from practicing on a daily basis need to be stressed. The choice is for others to make, and I’m not going to follow up with the option of providing yoga classes for a fee, yet, I would encourage all to undertake or try yoga as it’s an activity whereby some classes (yin/hatha) are slow and restorative. Moreover, on other days when more energy is available, a serious workout will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. Also, in essence you are concentrating on breathing plus becoming flexible in the body and mind.

Movement has always been important to me, growing up playing all sorts of sports then later during my twenties focusing on fitness. In regards to my treatment, from those very fist days whilst hitting the button to send morphine into my body, I was completely focused on recovering. The recovery I envisioned wasn’t just getting back to normal. Rather, surpassing how I had ever been before. Obviously, I have a long way forward, and I am continuously tracking my progress in the form of a daily diary. The diary encompasses all my movement, side effects experienced and recently my daily food intake. In addition, a monthly picture is taken to be used in the future to see the transitions taking place within my body. Initially, I had blinded myself from thinking about the reality chemotherapy, and once it dawned on me, I started to think about how my life would be lived for the next few years. I did not allow my thoughts to spiral into a place of depression. Instead, I started implementing some of my positive thinking. I outlined a programme/routine that I would adhere to, and today is a prime example of that approach in action. The programme entails the necessary period my body needs to rest, however, being completely aware of the importance of movement in my life. The effects are immediate once I complete some movement, usually yoga, then direct concentration to some meditation exercises. Yes, it is not always enjoyable but is siting on a couch all day, thinking about how sick my body feels? Also, to mention, I will allow myself one day a week/fortnight if feeling really tried over a continual period, however, as noted, I force myself knowing full well how I will feel after finishing the routine.

The importance of movement was instilled into my new life on the very first day of taking the chemotherapy. It is a day to always remember, wet, windy and cold conditions pierced my skin when waking to the pool. Not as cold comparable to European winters, yet, cold, windy and wet enough to force many people indoors. The decision was made at approximately 3pm, consisting of walking to an outside un-heated pool. It is probably not viewed as the best idea, and being the only person in the pool demonstrates this, however, it was one of the first mental steps taken towards both implementing my plan and not allowing the chemotherapy to completely overtake my life. My recommendation to others if feeling tired or a little low is to try some movement, and for me walking and swimming in the water to complete some gentle laps was perfect. If you really think about it, are there many more times when all your senses are switched on, making you feel alive. Whether it be the cold breeze almost stinging my weakened body, a hissing of the wind in the ears or seeing trees blowing from side to side. Then the dive in the water to undertake some laps, nothing to overly exert myself. At present, I considered it another victory, and view myself like a hoarder whom from the time of waking up out of surgery is collecting all the victories possible. To conclude, the decision can be simple, get onto the floor, start your breathing, say some affirmations before beginning, i.e. I am flexible, I am strong.

Has Cancer become your life?

4th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

In response to the email exchange, my chemotherapy increased today. An immediate measurement on the impact it had is difficult to define. It should be noted, I am aware the chemotherapy I receive differs greatly to others, and I can only empathise with those going for rounds of chemotherapy whereby the body is literally attacked, leaving the person in a state of ruin. As stated, I do empathise with those individuals and families and praise their strength and am working towards this not featuring within my future story.

In relation to my symptoms, I did have my usual afternoon crash, feeing very tired with my muscles and body both rigid whilst my mind was ticking over. The question is whether the relatively small increase in medication lead to these feelings or it is a matter of my mind telling me to expect feeling tired. One of the main messages needing to be established is the need to have an understanding of your thinking. The message is the very essence encompassing my outlook to Cancer, and is actually not solely applicable to Cancer but all aspects of life. It is not by any means a new idea, however, it is pivotal to my story thus far, and seems to be necessary to reinforce as it will hopefully will provide ideas to others about working their way around the seemingly unshifting boulder that has been placed in their middle of their road.

When discussing the matter of having an understanding of your thinking, it is ultimately due to feelings held about Cancer becoming your life. Well, it has become my life. I’m not in fear, and you certainly won’t hear me stating ‘why me’ nor will you see me searching and hoping for a cure. I must note at this time, this is my specific story and I know others won’t share the same view about their own Cancer and the Cancer ravaging their loved one’s, however, I am encouraging all to tap into their mind, using it to reshape their view and understanding of Cancer. In some cases, it is a heart breaking event causing the loss of life. For others, myself included, it strangely becomes liberating. For example, what are the first words you associate with the word Cancer? Just to share, the word that comes to my mind is life. Life, a total appreciation for it, a newly found learning curve, a challenging of beliefs, all of which is accompanied by a fresh perception of everything deemed to be health promoting or a contributor to undesired, insignificant and a detrimental stressor to my body.

How does this all link to my mind and the reshaping of a perception built about Cancer? Well, after the initial shock of hearing, and in my case seeing the news (look on doctors face, spoke volumes abut the seriousness of the circumstances without a word uttered), I was placing the illness, treatment and recovery all in a position whereby I would be ok, and would get through it. I did not know what it would entail and in a sense was naive, however, I did not get anchored into negative patters about death, worry and dying. Was I scared? Am I scared? Of course. In response, I am finding a place for it within my life, and I am achieving this by better using my thinking and linking this with my growing understanding of how the body works. All of this, has been sought from various readings, and is guiding me to my destined life of health and wellness. I think the idea of being positive needs to be connected to this point because I’m sure these words, deriving from a good place, need more explanation. Are we just to be positive about everything? Is being positive about everything normal, especially when faced with the prospect of dying? Of course not, as humans we experience a range of emotions, and to say ‘be positive’ in a sense dismisses what you are experiencing. It is not at all intentional and it partly arises from the discomfort some of us can feel when faced with such events, however, it is to be expected and is normal to not feel positive about everything. My advice would be to allow yourself to experience the emotions involved with your circumstances, however, be resourceful in equipping your mind with information and tools essential to intervening at the point your thinking becomes destructive. There is no magical set point for all of us, it is the preparation completed in advance to truly know yourself. I have a belief that my mind and body will be in the best position possible to protect me should an attack be launched again. Over the many readings, there are many points that have stayed with me, one of which is about the complexities of the mechanisms involved in you reading this. Take a moment to think about whether you are controlling your heat beating, your digestive system at work or the cells regenerating within your body. It is simple. No you’re not! The body is an amazing, resilient and evolved design, built to serve you. Therefore, it is in your power to further your learning about what you can do to know yourself and remain healthy.

Communicating with Doctors

3rd September 2914: London, United Kingdom

Relationships were mentioned last week. Essential to any relationship is communication, and for people experiencing Cancer, this is a pivotal matter. Personally, a degree of frustration was experienced today, yet, some points can also be highlighted from this chain of events to form a discussion. A quick summary of the situation results from my current stay in London, and the need to visit St Bartholomew’s Hospital for checks, particualrly when high levels of nausea and lethargy for a period deem a check essential. Both points ultimately lead to a worry about the illness returning or toxicity from chemotherapy. Results from tests undertaken showed that the form of chemotherapy I receive (Mitotane) was not within a recommended therapeutic guideline. Consequently, the doctors in London instructed me to increase my dose. Rather than following the advice, I informed the staff in the first instance I would prefer the point discussed with my doctor in Sydney. My reasoning being that I am in a research project, with the specific objective to ensure I receive optimal levels of Mitotane. Furthermore, the message reinforced my alignment to the doctor whilst also showing a respect for his professional opinion. The only issue was that a response from Australia had not been obtained for eight days, maybe not so long, however, it seems an eternity during times whereby I am crippled with nausea accompanied with feelings of fear. I have always wanted to ensure any follow up related to my care and treatment is addressed at the nearest possible time. Over the period of eight days, the London team had sent one email and I had sent two emails, one included his secretary into communication. On the eighth day, the following email was exchanged, immediately relieving my stress due to my objectives being achieved. Just to note, I have blocked out both all names for purposes of confidentiality.

Dear Professor,

Just a follow up note to convey I am aware of the demands you have from your role and recognise there are many people who would be requesting information and assistance from you.

I am not expecting an immediate response every time I have a query, however, am hoping for some clarity specifically on the matter of increasing the Mitotane. The email from the registrar at St Bart’s showed my current Mitotane levels were below the therapeutic guidelines. I am aware the plan was to slowly increase this dose, and now after approximately four months, I am concerned that the drugs that I am putting into my body aren’t performing their intended function.

Obviously, I have no knowledge about this so am just asking for clarity and reassurance, as I’m not certain whether a clearance is needed from Newcastle prior to the increase in dose, whether the recommended therapeutic dose is at all applicable (previous conversation about there being no-standardised level for Mitotane use) or if there is another reason I am unaware of?

Similar to previous requests, I do not intend to come across in a critical manner. I would just like to be more informed about my care and treatment, as understandably feeling uncertain on specific matters causes me to experience a level of stress.

Thank you for your time

It is not my intention to suggest this is the best example available. Rather a basis to show how I went about getting my objectives completed and to also outline some points for others to consider when communicating with doctors:
– Direct contact with the doctor is desired in comparison to communicating via a secretary or administrative worker. This is not always going to be possible. Ask at an early stage to obtain the mobile phone, email and what to do in emergencies.
– Providing a request in writing allows you the time to put together your points without missing any information. At times, you can hangup the phone, then have the moment of ‘ahh, I didn’t say’.
– An email allows you to get someone to check it prior to sending for corrections and suggestions and is a reference point, with clarity on timeframes for when it was sent, the content of the email and what was agreed.
– The email example above shows an understanding of the competing demands of the doctor all requiring his/her immediate attention. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of how you get your message across as you don’t know what sort of emergencies he/she has to encounter.
– Be concise, assertive and use specific questioning to outline what is concerning you. Hostility is not going to achieve anything, nor is a lengthy document. Keep it short, clear and simple, assuming that he/she has a number of patients to see plus all the emails that will be waiting in the inbox.
– Don’t be afraid to follow up on points when you don’t feel the response has been adequate or the timeframe in getting back to you is too slow.

Some points to consider in face to face meetings include:
– Be prepared, having notes and a folder containing all your information. One of the most important points is that you need to be your expert, of course you are not to have all the medical knowledge, however, extensive reading of your specific area of inquiry and numerous quesitons should be asked in each appointment.
– Ask those around you for points about what you plan to say and ask for suggestions for anything you may have missed.
– Explore research possibilities, it is better for you and the Cancer community should you be involved in a study.
– Explore what other care and treatment options are available, including other treating practitioners.
– Think about the varying people providing support along the journey. Consider taking someone, close, i.e. spouse/parent/sibling/son/daughter/relative or friend with you to each appointment.
– Finally, remember it is your body so take charge and utilise the medical knowledge available plus look to increasing your knowledge about other factors to be discussed at later stages, i.e. nutrition, movement/exercise, meditation/mindfulness, stress reduction, relationships, religion/spirituality & the surrounding environment.

Should all Cancer’s be viewed as negative?

2nd September 2014: London, United Kingdom

A conversation was had today reinforcing the need to consider how I voice my opinions about Cancer. I guess the very nature of writing is about me reflecting on my thoughts and gaining an understanding of what is happening for me, however, if it is used or read by someone else then a level of respect is needed for others. Moreover, greater explanation of what my thinking is based on so people, if they do read and disagree, can at least see what I base my perspective upon.

The conversation today started in a very similar fashion to how other conversations have unfolded since people learned I had a cancerous tumour removed. There doesn’t appear to be any phased introduction. Instead, their Cancer story, whether that be their own individual Cancer experience or that of someone they love or care for starts to be told. Today, the story was shared by a colleague whom is a mother of a child who had Leukaemia. At present, the young boy is doing well, and has come off his medication so it seems like a very successful and positive story. Still, I think for both parties, tears were held back at varying stages of the conversation. I doubt many exchanges would exist between two people who have experienced Cancer whereby some emotions are not shown. If this is true, then how appropriate would it be to voice opinions about Cancer, especially if those opinions were to query why all Cancers should be viewed in such negative terms? Additionally, let’s say I was suggest that Cancer may be necessary in some instances to force individuals to make needed changes in their lives. The level of appropriateness is simple, it’s not appropriate at all. The reasoning for it not being appropriate was demonsrated in the example above, particularly bearing in mind the resilience of the family and the little boy who has overcome such a rough hand at an early stage. Surely, the years of continual hardship and devastation experienced by the mother can ever be justified?

The process of the writing a journal somewhat compelles me to revisit my own thinking about the matter, however, I do believe, and wish to make clear that I agree Cancer can be an awfully, unjust and painful experience by those who have directly or indirectly experienced it. Alternatively, in some cases it can be the change needed in someone’s life, and the theme of these entries is to find a place for the Cancer in your life and that doesn’t always need to be painful and negative experience, rather a significant life changing event for the better. Furthermore, it is hoped that if this is ever read by anyone, then the collection of thoughts and examples will provide an individual who is either experiencing or has experienced Cancer with some ideas to reshape their personal narrative and relationship with their Cancer. Lastly, the information is hoped to contribute to the wide range of information already existing for carers, family and friends to act as a source of information that may give them a bit of understanding into the behaviours, actions, fears or decisions made by someone they know who has Cancer.

An introduction to my story

1st September 2014: London, United Kingdom

The first entry probably should have outlined a lot more than setting out a bit of an agenda that came to mind on the back of the impulsive thought to start writing a journal, however, when speaking about depth, may it not be best to allow the narrative to unfold organically? London! A place to remember. I moved over here with the expectation of staying a year with an ex-girlfriend then as individuals change, a shift occurred leading me to meet my current girlfriend. Now, she has been in my life for the past two years, and was the reason for extending my first visa for another two years then placing me on a plane about 10 weeks ago returning with a slight nerve, thinking about the prospect of coming back to the city where I lived and enjoyed so much. The city whereby the Peter Pan life is a reality. The city whereby my early years consisted of travel throughout Europe at every possible moment. The city where a thirst for alcohol was the norm. The city of great memories. The city that also brought me to tears when I was told after a three day stint in hospital that a tumour had been detected. Told? Well, it wasn’t the words, rather than expression on the face of the doctor and the uncertain faces of the two registrars following behind. Newham hospital, a real life bedlam experience. The sharing of a ward with five other men. Two of these men had dementia, one was a recovering alcoholic whom I really hope has been able to overcome the booze as he was a top bloke and two other revolving beds. The feelings of knowing, “I have a tumour’ are hard to portray. A show of tears was not a typical characteristic for me. Oh how that changed on 16th January 2014. I cried and cried like I hadn’t before, and still can’t really convey the feelings and thoughts upon hearing the findings. The same feelings would be experienced when returning to Sydney three weeks later to hear that I have a life expectancy of six months should I not have surgery, and again when brushing my teeth only about two months ago when I spat blood out of my gums. These feelings of vulnerability are comparable to nothing I have experienced, however, along with the theme and beliefs I hold about my circumstances, they may be the very testing of character and sprit that is needed to truly shape me into becoming a great man, son, friend, brother, husband and father. The theme of enduring, is something that has stayed with me from the point of diagnosis till now, however, is it really what life is about? The enduring of hardship? Is this possibly the very factor that caused it all to happen? Do I need to shift this thinking so there is no more enduring and instead just pure enjoyment?

The three days prior to 16th January 2014, I had been telling both mates from work and outside of work that the other group was with me, i.e. to a work friend, ‘no seriously, I’m fine, my housemates and other friends have been past to drop things off and spend time with me’. In reality, I had a backpack and had not spoken to anyone, however, once I had shed some tears, that all changed and I needed someone to be with me. The support from my close friends and boss were all excellent, and people I’ll always remember. Interestingly, a minor argument occurred a few days earlier with my girlfriend. The outcome was a case of a, “we’re not going to be together’. Therefore, it didn’t feel right in telling her that I was in hospital. A decision I must add, that was not agreed when seeing each other after discharge seven days later. On reflection, this highlights my thinking and feelings towards not wanting to worry other people. Interstingly, I also did not disclose anything to my family, who are such a supportive base. You would think the support should be utilsied at times like this, however, that thought of not wanting to casue worry for others is still a barrier to acceptance the support from family and friends. In additon, it can also be seen to link to the belief held about enduring the entirety of the unfolding ordeal, and importantly this was and is something I need to do alone.

Alcohol and Cancer

30th August 2014: Wales

A four hour car journey from my girlfriends house to Wales was endured. The motion experienced of bumping around in the backseat wasn’t well received, particularly when bearing in mind that this feeling is somewhat now accustomed due to the side effects of my medication. The feeling associates itself with the decision made to reduce my alcohol consumption. Alcohol! I have come to realise that I am more than capable of polishing off a beer like the old days, well that’s if you only look at the first few sips before you’ll see I am holding onto the bottle (no longer pint glasses) like a familar prop till I take about my fourth swig, realising it has turned warm and I am longer desiring the taste for more. Alcohol! The car journey today whilst nursing the after effects of a drinking session. No way! If only these feelings could be shared with myself in the past, that is with the exception of times on a Monday at work after a heavy weekend. Honestly, I thought it would be missed a lot more than it is. Strangely, it hasn’t been a straining quest to overcome a thirst for a beer nor has it had to feature in any conversations with doctors. Of course, people will ask, ‘when you going to be able to have a session again’, yet, again, strangely, the thought of it doesn’t really tempt me. In saying that, a few beers or a wine or two with no ill after effects wouldn’t be so bad but isn’t that what most people would want? It’s not really going to be a case of people lining up to have a hangover or cover your morning hangover for you after an alcohol fuelled night is it? The only summary would be never say never, and the social aspect and laughs had over a few beers could, if given enough thought provoke nostalgia, however, at this stage, I’m happy to have my five sips and hold a warm beer before settling into bed, knowing my body will be in better shape to approach the night with a clear focused mind and wake up to enjoy the hour or so before popping the pills that recently were hinted as becoming a routine for the rest of my life. It is probably useful to mention that like a lot of topics discussed, this only captures my current thinking and experiences, and in no way do I think negatively about moderate alcohol consumption, and maybe still have a soft spot for the ocasional blowout. This is all about age and experiences though and is the fundamental beauty of a journal. Naturally, if I was at a different stage in my life then what I am writing may difffer. A lot of what is coming across is about a personal journey with no criticisms directed at anyone (well at this stage).

A Mantra…

29th August 2014: Dorset, United Kingdom

Life. Along with live and love has been the almost Mantra like phrase I have been repeating to myself throughout the pst six months. The three words have become a personal ritual accommpanied by a visual scanning my body and an inward hope and demand for survival. It was today though that I gave this some thought. Should it be a focus of life, live (as is to live) and love and a combination of them all, i.e. I have life, and will live my life with love or I love to live my life? Or does that not indicate a pleading or seeking of life and love rather than actually focusing on living? To place all atention on life, in a sense overlooks the very nature of what you are doing at the present time. Am I not breathing, is my mind not chattering, is my stomach not simulating a moving tide on a sandy beach, and are my ears not picking up on the noises surrounding me? Whilst writing this, a juxtoposition is evident. Yes, a focus on life enables me to create a future, however, if a future can be created in my mind then is it possible for a real future to exist? A varied approach would simply ential being in the present moment, and for me, the moment is exactly what I am certain about. The present moment is a time when I can stop myself from overcomplicating every aspect of my life with thoughts, worries and feelings. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer. Rather, it seems a combination of the both is needed, especially when linking it back to the idea of formulating a strategy for life and survivial based on creation of life within in my thinking and belief system.

In regards to the present moment, a lot of my reading has been focused on the power of the mind, and the need to slow down in every aspect of life. When practising this, I have come treasure moments, and they may be mundane times whereby an overwhelming sense of happiness flows through my body, resulting in a recognition of my hands tapping away, my face smiling and a feeling of just being happy. When in then midst of experiencing happiness, I have come to think that surely this is what living is about? Life isn’t about wishing your life away, creating catastrophies in my mind or trying to examine every details of life. It is about living it. If anyone can increase the times when you are feeling like this, whether that may be through whatever task you choose then simply enjoy it and recognise it. I certainly know there have been times when I have spent my energy and thoughts racing around causing un-necessary stress to me body. Actually this very day, my mind was ticking over with the worst case scenario, and it was in part due to writing the journal that helped me stop these thoughts from spiralling downwards. As noted, before ‘it all happened’ my mind raced much more often then it currently does, however, now I breathe, realise how little I will achieve from overthinking an ‘issue’ that I’ve actually created or interpetered and also think about the effects of keeping my body in a state of stress compared to one that is relaxed and able to help every part of my body continuousy heal, recover and flourish.

Relationships, the big C word, and what does pruning mean?

28th August 2014: London, United Kingdom

A topic that were considered yet overlooked yesterday, with specific reference to the big C word, is relationships. Such a huge area, surely, one entry will not even touch upon the array of factors to be discussed. When talking about relationships, use of a social work tool, namely an eco-map seems the most relevant format for portaying my thoughts. The eco-map is a multiple of circles surrounding you as the focal point; the next circle is likely include your partner/spouse, family or close friends; then a wider circle may involve other friends, colleagues, team mates, co-members of a club/faith/community. Is the picture becoming clear? The wider the circle, reflects a greater distance for people or servives/support in your life. There are many variants of how an individuals eco-map would be completed, and I’m aware the writing of this is from a white Australian male perspective. Thus, many other individuals may have multi people within inner circles or none at all. Other outer circles may entail organisations, government services, the hair-dresser, local market stall owner or whole clubs, faith groups, etc.

So the purpose for someone with Cancer in adopting the eco-map into their lives, is the possibility to place emphasis on any person or group within one’s life, and have an understanding of how closely they feel connected to that person/service/group. To quickly expand on this, many readings will state that a person experiencing Cancer will either strengthen the relationship with their loved one, be that a husband/wife, partner or girl/boyfriend or on the other hand, cause an unrepairable rift in the dynamics causing the relationship to cease. Of course this can be expected as with any signifiant change causes a ripple effect, impacting those around you and many others.

Just to mention, I use the term significant change not tragedy nor any term with a negative connotation. I am well aware, many opponents would object to this view, questioning how Cancer be viewed in any way other then a clear injustice, especially for loved ones and young children. In response, I do not dismiss those who feel this way as it can be seem very unfair and questions such as, ‘why me’ are sure to happen. Also, I greatly emphasise with those individuals, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, friends and community members who are currently facing Cancer in some form, however, the point that will be proposed and expanded upon is that Cancer, although terrifying as it is can also force positive changes in one’s life. Changes that may not have been possible without the immediate need to make amendments and in some cases completely redirect the thinking, behaviours and actions of people. This idea will be followed up, that is of course dependent on my thinking remaining on a similar path towards finding a position for Cancer in my life.

My intention of introducing the Eco-Mao was to explore the close relationships in your life. It was also deemed necessary to reflect on the relationship held with doctors, alternate health professionals or anyone contributing to the maintenance of your health. Also, the eco-map is useful as personally I have found those within the inner and second circle holding strong opinions about your health, including the level of contact with those professionals involved in your life and the decisions you make in your life. I think the perception of others towards my interactions with professionals would be considered rather passive. My personal opinion greatly varies, placing me as the main person directing my treatment, and of course showing extreme gratitude from the professionals and support around me. The difference stems from the process of normalising my circumstances, and although those in my inner circle may consider me not assertive enough, at the forefront of my thinking is remembering that yes I am important but so to is the attention Abdul, John and Stacey all are demanding who are in similar circumstances. Furthermore, I prefer to come across as understanding to these demands of the doctor as I feel this will greater increase my chance of receiving the needed information, scan, results, next appointment or anything I deem essential at times of distress?

It again seems the paragraphs were disjointed, the point of mentioning the differences with relationships, be that with the closest person in your life or the professional treating you, is to place value on the importance of communication whislt ensuring you are equipped in advance with some knowledge about your condition to make rational decisions. To conclude, another point to be discussed about relationships is the need to possibly revisit the circles surrounding you to be clear that all those involved in your life are bringing something positive to support you in the journey. The process may be difficult, requiring some pruning of old relationships that may have served a prior purpose, however, no longer has a major role to play in directing the life you are now to live.