7th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

The MRI is scheduled for tomorrow! A few more days of waiting then I will be getting the next all clear from the doctor. The results will be both a relief plus a reassurance that all is progressing to plan, i.e. I will survive. Importantly, as previously mentioned, I will be able to approach future periods like the one just passed with a sense of normality. Hopefully when experiencing a sore throat, aches or sinus I will be able to just associate it with the flu.

Interestingly, today is the best I have felt since returning home, with plans established for the day including a reintroduction of physical exercise and some light yoga. I did manage to go for a surf, and again slight feelings of nausea surfaced. I attempted some meditation, but instead drifted into a deep sleep. Upon rising blurry eyed, knowing I had missed the chance to do some movement, planning shifted for at least completing a light session of yoga. The very thought process is reflective of my incapacity to value rest. Fortunately, in this instance, I was able to reason with myself, drawing on principles from the designed framework to simply rest.

The matter of resting is pivotal for all of us, and is almost seen as a weakness in the fast paced dominant cultures within both Australia and United Kingdom. Attitudes are influenced by a technological crazed population (I say this whilst typing on my tablet), and my experience of employment consisted of long-hours and weekend work viewed as badges of honour. Admittedly, I was a participating member of this fast paced way of life with limited rest planned into my weekends and the complacency adopted to working over and above requested hours. Obviously, my mind-state still requires attention in rewiring the outlook in relation to the importance of rest and the need to switch off from the internet or my phone. I do believe progress is being made, and responding appropriately to the two hours sleep today is evidence of a shift in mind-state. Obviously rest was needed, and to force myself through this would be putting stress onto my body, a factor completely undesired. and a key focus of my life I am trying to eliminate.

My Super Bowl

6th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Yesterday was grand final day for the sport of Rugby League, a day my friends and I referred to in the past as a second Christmas Day. Maybe best comparable to Super Bowl day in the states or a World Cup final for football nations. Regardless of whether others share my passion for the game, it won’t often influence the positive feeling associated with this time as people typically get together for a BBQ, be it for the match or the long weekend and meet with family or friends, heading away for a weekend escape or choose to spend time at the beach/park/pool to celebrate the extra day without work. This year was to be both special and unusual for me, I had just returned to Australia after four years away, yet, a lot of changes were anticipated to how the occasion would unfold, particularly as the day was being hosted at my house.

When looking back, it can be seen as another learning curve in my journey. Similar to a lot of aspects of my life, it was no easy ride. Feeling of elations were intertwined with disappointment. The sun was burning, fun waves were to be had whilst surfing in the morning, a group of friends and family were getting together to feast over the food prepared. Feelings of disappointment surfaced came from the very moment of waking up, the culprit being the sore throat whom was again sending a strong reminder of it’s presence. My first thoughts were directed to the frustration at my slow recovery rather than the excellent times spent with my nephews the day before. Next, I became nauseous whilst surfing, taking away from the experience of enjoying the 32 degree weather whilst surfing fun waves. Such a combination is normally a remedy for everything! The day was starting to get away from me and the feelings of nausea lead to a fatigue, thus, it was decided to not pursue the plan of integrating yoga into my day and opt for some rest, food and an early dose of medication. I get the feeling all this can seen a little over dramatic, however, context is needed to look at the past feelings associated with the day and then the realisation of the changes for me.

Remarkably, a quick meditation whilst the artificial cortisol (medication) flowed through my body lead me to feeling much better. From that point on, I can’t recall a moment when not feeling unwell or unsettled, and had an amazing day surrounded by friends and family, plus was more than pleased with my ease and comfort at just occasionally sipping on two ciders throughout the duration of the eight hours. A duration of socialising I have definitely not been able to enjoy since the beginning of the year. So the learning from it? I firmly believe everything I face is trial and error. Some options may not work whilst others, like magic make me feel good, and are then seen to feature within my future thinking. The answer to why I started to feel better could simply be attached to the medication. A decision to ignore this pivotal point would be overlooking the mechanisms of the human body, however, looking at the day in greater depth would show the significance of many other factors contributing to sustained positive feelings. In advance, I had taken any stress out of the day by planning for healthy food to be served throughout the day, had support from my parents in setting everything up and the experience was shared by a circle of friends and family, including the visit of my little nephews whom always make me happy. An analysis of the situation would show I controlled my environment, was connected with family and friends, created an atmosphere whereby everyone was understanding of my needs with no pressure on me, was complying with medication, healthy food options were aplenty and in regards to mindfulness, the day finished with a meditation before drifting into a deep slumber. Evidence again of the principles enabling me to find a place for the Cancer, one whereby I am still able to enjoy my life.

My pact

4th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

The last few days have seen snippets of information detailing the discovery of the tumour. It is a rather powerful and emotive process, forcing me relive some of the memories associated to this stage of the journey. Therefore, it seems relevant to also mention a decision made prior to the whole hospital experience. Again, with most topics, I guess how each reader interprets the information will differ, however, it is personally seen as a critics moment of my life. The topic in mention regards a pact made with myself on the night of New Year’s Eve 2013.

On the night of December 2013, I was staying in an incredible place with my girlfriend and family that overlooked the snow fields of France. Typically in such places, there wouldn’t be a care in the world, on this night though, a pact with myself was made consisting of a promise not to drink any alcohol or eat any red meat for as long as it took for normal health to return. The pact may not have come to fruition if I hadn’t been starring disappointedly over the snow fields from my sweaty bed following weeks of ill health. The significance of that New Years Eve night alone in my bed almost delirious from a high temperature is reason for presenting at the hospital back in London, early on the 12th January 2014 with no alcohol consumed the day before. Why the significance? Well, I believe that pact ensured the stomach pains and flu symptoms were treated as genuine concerns and not just a poisoned post-festive season liver screaming for attention from the assault received over the past weeks.

In reality, regardless of the Cancer or not, I feel modifications to my lifestyle would have been made. An evaluation of my lifestyle and health at the time of diagnosis would show a generally health conscious person whom regularly exercised, however, the alarming feature would be the amount of alcohol passed through my body on the weekends. I am now able to identify myself in terms of the relationship I had with alcohol as a binge drinker. Would I have considered myself different to others surrounding me or others in general around London? No, not at all! In my mind, I didn’t drink midweek, exercised and ate relatively healthy, so would have actually probably had a blurred perception of what healthy living entailed. I do remember wanting to cut out either a session at the pub on either a Friday or Saturday as countless beers would usually would have been consumed, and I think having the Cancer just accelerated some health related decisions into my life. Now, as noted previously, I don’t have the sessions in the pub, more being comfortable with no more than one or two drinks. Consequently, I have found to have a renewed love for other aspects of life, including a sharpness that appears to have returned in my thinking, greater focus, more time and an overall more positive approach without days spent hungover. Yes, I have had some ill health of late and haven’t been as energetic as preferred, however, I feel a return to a full-time schedule will occur next week. In summary, the pact made with myself clearly targeted an area of my life needing attention, was a key step to accurately being diagnosed, and has placed me in this fortunate position whereby I have been able to make the changes needed to actually work towards living a healthy and full life.