Does writing about Cancer and the feelings attached actually help?


28th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

The avoidance of writing about my ever fluctuating mental states seems necessary. My reasoning derives back to an earlier entry relating to an acceptance of my circumstances, and true acceptance entails an absolute submission to experiencing both the highs and lows associated with Cancer. Inevitably, down days are going to occur, and the process of documenting these days only seems to imprint a negative impact on my overall well-being. At times, a feeling of becoming stuck within a hole of despair is the predominant thought embedded within my subconscious, and consequently, my consciousness then allows these thoughts to sift into my everyday feelings and future outlook. It is somewhat paradoxical to refrain from writing about these times, however, it is a decision made to encourage a true acceptance of my circumstances whilst making a more conscious attempt at furthering my growth.

Please, just stop!

23rd April 2015: Sydney

No no no no no! I have tried my meditation and breathing exercises to no avail. It is now past midnight, and I just wished for it all stop. My stomach is cramping, rumbling and making me feel inclined to take up residence adjacent to the toilet. Attempts at reassuring myself via use of my past strategies have been unsuccessful, I simply can’t get the thought out of my head that it has come back! The effort needed in writing this is simply too much. I am scared, and am needing sleep to wake up with a fresh mind to put everything in perspective. It seems the darkness of the night combined with being alone brings me back to my childhood days of being afraid in the middle of the night. A definite case of the night terrors! I know this goes against what I advocate for, however, I have taken a pain killer to settle myself into a relaxed state whereby I will hopefully be able to do some visualisation exercises before drifting off to sleep.

Time to switch my thinking and preparation..

22nd April 2015: Sydney, Australia

Another photo was taken today to coincide with my plans to track my recovery in pictures. The shot highlights the need for an increase in sunshine, and the changing of seasons from summer into winter. I was surprised to see the vast difference in my skin colour across the months, and it seems a greater level of physical health correlates with exposure to sunshine. The photos from July and December support these claims. Another noticeable change is the reappearance of the slant within my posture. A correction in my body thought to be fixed.

Interestingly, I have almost been writing for a year, and have plans to review the entires whilst travelling solo. One point coming to my mind is the actual benefits obtained in writing, and being more specific, I would say whether the process of writing makes me think more negatively? For instance, I was not writing at the corresponding time last year before heading to the UK, and consequently, I doubt a comparable level of concern would have been experienced regarding my health, and how my body would respond whilst away. On reflection, factors need to be considered, namely, the increase of Mitotane being administered, the familiarity of London and the prospect of living with my girlfriend at the time. All points possibly explain the differences in my preparation, however, the point of concern and worry needs to be focused upon regarding my upcoming trip. In reality, it seems I am more inclined to write about potential mishaps, compared to the prospect of spending two months in the sun, surfing magical waves and visiting Ubud to emerge myself within yoga for a period of time. It seems these latter points need to be at the forefront of my thinking when having doubts, especially when considering the hypothesis posed in the first paragraph about a greater level of health appears to correlate with an increase in sunshine. To conclude, it appears the solution has surfaced. It is really simple, basically I just need to get my head in the right frame of mind, not be so dour about everything, and imagine the fun times to be had!

The war on Cancer

21st April 2015: Sydney

On 23rd December 1971, President of United State of America, Richard Nixon signed a declaration of war against Cancer. Now the question I ponder is whether the intelligence leading into the mission, if we can call it such, was at all informed. My reasoning is clearly demonstrated in recent statistics showing there has been no decrease in the percentage of people impacted by Cancer on an annual basis. In fact, current data suggests the complete opposite, with expectations of an increase to follow over the coming decade.

I am not the only person querying the outcomes of the war. A podcast titled, Life By Design, questioned whether the huge amounts of finances and brain power invested to the area has been directed in the most effective manner. A very valid point, when looking at the spike in numbers, and then considering the increase of toxins and chemicals in the environment; the growing population of people with obesity and other health concerns; a more sedentary approach adopted by many in the world, and the changes within the foods consumed over the past five generations. Consequently, I write this entry deflated, thinking we are left in the predicament resulting from limited research being placed on alternate forms of treatment compared to the attention placed on pharmaceutical interventions. I completely recognise the hypocrisy in the above statement, particularly bearing in mind my current dependency on chemotherapy, however, a definite motivation exists in relation to the need for large studies be conducted to test the accuracy in the claims many people make about Cancer treatment. Prior to finishing, acknowledgement and attention on the progression made for some types of Cancer is essential, and it is the very reason for strongly believing people should adopt an integrative approach into their entire experience.

Misery continues..

19th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

The tide is yet to turn, and I am still stuck in a position of curiosity, wondering about the reason for the longevity of this illness. Stupidly, one of the underlying factors driving this unshifting state of mind is the inability to complete my exercises or surf. Fortunately, common sense prevailed this morning when an idea of heading to exercise came to mind. I guess a thought of “fuck it, what else can happen” flicked through my mind, and luckily my senses prevented me from pursuing the idea. The initial thought process reflects the degree of loss again experienced in my life. I acknowledge touching upon the area within my writing, however, it has not really been explored in depth. Admittedly, I am not in a position to give such details, however, a taste of how loss can be experienced was demonstrated whilst going for a brief walk today. As noted, my sense prevailed in stopping me from exercising, however, the idea of surrounding myself with nature whilst integrating some gentle movement into my life appeared a possible avenue to help alleviate some of the mixed emotions felt. Consequently, the total opposite effect was had. The walk only seemed to elicit a feeling of loss. It didn’t matter where I looked, almost every observation resulted in a wish for my normal life, the life lived two years ago to recommence. Honestly, the list could be endless, I could have viewed a guy spread out relaxing in the sun, someone about to surf, a couple, a young family or just a group of young people hanging about. To conclude, I am simply done with these feelings.

An entry with a twist (part two)

18th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

Below is a message sent to a friend last night.

What a moment of contemplation. Friday night, just cleaned toilet after another bout of diarrhoea, look in the mirror to see a weathered face starting at me, and if I didn’t need another prompt, my dirty pants from this morning were in my reflection.

The content is fairly self-explanatory, and with a continuation of diarrhoea throughout the day, I can truly say feelings of anger, accompanied by sense of loss have been brought to surface. Of course, many others experience bouts of diarrhoea, and are upset, however, there is a fear attached to the circumstances that may symbolise a matter of greater importance. Maybe I am being dramatic, it just appears to be an ever frustrating process whereby no pleasure seems possible. I have almost reached the point of reviewing past entries to actually read accounts of happier times because currently I am bound within a hole of fear, misery and anger.

An entry with a twist, please take caution as I don’t wish to offend!

17th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

I do hope people are not offended by the post. My reasoning for being so explicit is to give an accurate account of the harsh reality associated with the uncertainty constantly encountered. Well, here goes, and please remember my intentions are to share, not offend!

I shat myself today. Admittedly, a rather unorthodox start to an entry, however, it seems no other words will explain the embarrassment caused by the events of this morning. The incident is hopefully the final piece of an unfolding puzzle, responsible for causing havoc on my body over the past three days. I am unsure whether a link exists between the recent chain of events and the unfolding circumstances within my life for over a year now. It simply felt like my body needed to shut off from everything, and the 19 hours of sleep on Wednesday is surely evidence of this. A description of the recent feelings could be linked to images of a storm descending on my body to knock all the energy from me. Consequently, I am left curious as to the reasoning behind the sudden shift from feeling a seemingly normal level of health compared to now.

Interestingly, feelings of shame do not register in my thinking when recalling how the incident occurred. Instead, the unconditional support of my mum shines vividly, and helps me to see the situation in a humorous manner. In saying that, I am hopeful the storm passes, opposed to signalling something more severe than an singular, childlike accident. One point considered heavily over the past few days is the similarities to the difficulties had prior to the detection of the tumour 18 months ago. Furthermore, I have considered my possible vulnerability in Indonesia. Thoughts of regret have definitely circulated in my mind in relation to my travel plans, especially considering I am will not be insured due to the costs associated in covering me. In addition, it will not simply be a case of going to St Barts Hospital in London where I am known and receive the necessary treatment. Instead, there is a real possibly I will be in a very remote place, or worse, just need to tolerate the pain and self medicate till appropriate help is sought. Both, not very inviting prospects!

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel I can see?

12th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

A continuation of feeling well seems to be building momentum. It has now been many days since a bout of nausea has been experienced with my energy stocks also seemingly not depleted. Consequently, I have been much more social, a feature eliciting a sense of normality into my life. In addition, I am going to sleep, basking in the comfort of my bed. An experience lost as long as memory allows. Admittedly, in the social arena my complete confidence is still lacking, particularly resulting from the unshifting Cancer narrative I seem bound within. My self-awareness reinforces the origins of the unshifting narrative directly stemming from my internal thought process, however, as previously mentioned, momentum feels to be building.

I would like to say the battle is coming to a close, and the last appointment with my Professor has only reinforced these feelings. Admittedly, I have long advocated for not setting timescales in regards to the length of my treatment, however, periods of happiness flow throughout my thoughts in relation to the approaching prospect of once again resuming what would be deemed a normal life. The corresponding challenge is to ensure the avenue adopted in achieving the state of wellness within my mind and body throughout the entirety of this process continues after the treatment ceases. It is undeniable that to the outside world the previous sentence would not necessarily be shared, however, personally regardless of the circumstances faced, I feel to have found a security within my self. A defining factor I wish continues and flourishes when the next stage of my life begins.

Jessica Ainscough vs Bella Gibson

9th April, 2015: Sydney, Australia

Two extremely topical identities associated with Cancer and the area of wellness have recently been placed at the forefront of societies consciousness. A past entry expressed my feelings towards one of these individuals, Jessica Ainscough. The other individual, Bella Gibson, was last week deemed a successful entrepreneur for her endeavours in creating an app based upon her capacity of naturally fighting her Cancer. As a disclaimer, I must note her complete story is unknown, and the only information seemingly available indicates she fabricated her experiences of Cancer. Interestingly, the two individuals are being grouped together, and on a personal level, I find it completely unfair towards Jessica Ainscough.

Many people have made their views very clear about the decisions Jessica made within her life. Again, I must note, no contact had ever been made with her, and the basis for my writing results from a negatively shown towards her since passing away. At present, I believe a clear distinction needs to be made between Jessica, a person who opted to pursue an alternative approach to treating the Cancer within her body and Bella Gibson, who it seems has made financial successes out of her dishonesty. As mentioned in the very first paragraph, the topic will surely raise opposing opinions on the matter, and frankly, I am happy to put my thoughts forward, especially when taking the perspective of a person who had Cancer and now receives chemotherapy. The major difference between the two individuals can be highlighted by the facts of Jessica having Cancer, and it seemingly appears more evident that Bella did not. Therefore, I am astounded to see the inspiration provided to many by Jessica possibly being tarnished by making such comparisons. Furthermore, does her death need to correlate with statements alluding to deceit or a failure? It appears everyone is forgetting one very important fact relating to the scandalous story existing about Jesssica. Most notably, Cancer kills a lot of people around the world, including those who have followed all the information advised by medical professionals.

I am aware of the bias reflected in my writing, and regardless of the information reported on the decisions made by Jessica, it seems indisputable to suggest she did not inspire or give hope to many people. I recognise a major criticism directed at her was the strong position taken in advocating the Gerkin’s Diet, and consequently the number of vulnerable people she may have possibly influenced to follow her actions. Firstly, I am not qualified in this area, however, I guess a question we could all ask is whether she would be alive, and living the quality of life she wished if she decided to follow instructions all those years ago by amputating her arm in the hope the Cancer would not spread. On a person level, I must admit the thought of trialling an alternative therapy resonates significantly, especially if there are claims attached to the proposal increasing your survival.

I see her death can act in a way that continually influences people to seek a combination of sources to support each specific journey, and I have no idea whether Jessica would have agreed on this matter, however, her circumstances can be used to equip people about the challenges they are to face with their individual Cancer experiences. In addition, the amount of research currently directed towards the possible links between dietary and lifestyle factors associated with Cancer surely reinforces the messages promoted by Jessica. A major point, many people are willing to openly forget.

How to remain focused on my goals..

8th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

I view attention to rest as concrete evidence of the dawning of a new reality present in my life, particularly when bearing in mind the area was overlooked prior to being forced by the discovery of Cancer to review my behaviour and actions. A key point to highlight from the entirety of this Cancer journey is the opportunity to fully focus on myself, including the scheduling of rest into my life whilst also not allowing a stance to be adopted whereby the period is viewed with pity, regretfulness and loss. Admittedly, ample entires document the varying thoughts circulating throughout my mind, some far from positive, however, the fluctuating thoughts appear essential to create a narrative about the experiences I continually face.

Personally, the whole situation needs to be looked at with perspective, and most importantly, it is imperative to create new scripts to block old patterns from rearing a presence in my life again. I acknowledge many more challenges await, and similar to any other person, the obstacle for me entails remaining focused, driven and motivated on my goals. A factor holding more weight when the rigours and demands of everyday life demand greater attention. To conclude, I must say, with all the feelings and emotions attached to the circumstances endured, I would deem myself to be relatively happy. Therefore, my motivation, focus and drive needs to centre upon achieving greater happiness in all areas of my life, completely unrestricted by any diagnosis, fears or factors associated with having Cancer.