Desicions about chemotherapy

24th August 2015: Sydney, Australia
Today, I made contact with a young person who is also overseen by my Professor. The young person had a reoccurrence of Adrenal Cancer (ACC) that spread to his lungs, however, now, approximately five years since finishing a course of Mitotane (chemotherapy for ACC), he is completing his first year at University. It is excellent to hear he is pursuing his studies, especially after being forced to face the journey at such a young age.

Interestingly, the conversation left me more confused about what actions to pursue in the future, namely, whether the course of Mitotane should continue. The young person had strong negative views about the drug, labelling it as a pesticide. Honestly, there is no surprise about his views after hearing the difficulty he endured over the period of 18 months. In terms of my own body, it is a decision I need to make, and whilst seemingly appearing to continue living without major disturbances from any side-effects, there appears to be a safety net associated with taking the drug. There is some irony in seeing the drug as a safety net, especially when bearing in mind my levels were so high, they were actually within a range deemed toxic before the Cancer resurfaced. The question surely becomes why is it viewed a safety net, especially when little success was achieved? I believe the matter could be debated long and hard, particularly being aware a lot of people would proclaim the drugs may be detrimental to my immune system and overall capacity to heal. In response, the only point coming to mind is the thought of not giving myself every opportunity to life should the drugs discontinue.

Physical, emotional and mental strains of Cancer…

1st May 2015: Sydney, Australia

A possible flaw has been identified in the framework I designed to help others with Cancer. Initially, my planning was based on the idea of challenging attendees in a similar manner to others in the community who engage in group work, however, recent circumstances in my life brought the matter to surface, namely, the limited emphasis I placed on the possible physical and mental capacity of future participants. On reflection, I feel my intentions reflect the personal strategy created to ensure I faced the duration of time on chemotherapy with a belief of undermining the impact it would have on my life. I acknowledge many would suggest overlooking the impact of treatment for people is negligent, and I must add, of course consideration was made to such a blatant point, however, I feel sufficient attention was not directed to the area.

The events leading to a shift in my thinking again derive from the level movement in my life, and most likely links to memories elicited from viewing past photos. In summary, I have developed a tailored plan in regards to the level of movement that will feature on a weekly basis. My reasoning for tailoring the plan as such results from a knowledge of avoiding physically over exerting myself whilst recognising the great importance needed on recovery time to combat levels of fatigue experienced. The fact my programme is much less intense compared to one in place should I not be receiving treatment is a clear example of the need to also design the framework accordingly. I do recognise the main focus on movement in my life, and some may argue this may not be a suitable example when making comparisons with mental fatigue. In response, I would advise those people give equal weight to mental and physical fatigue, and my reasoning derives from previous study undertaken over the past year whereby I realised that regardless of whether it is physical, mental or even emotional fatigue, the end result is the same. It is for this very reason, I will explore avenues to decrease the load on future people who hopefully partake in my programme.

Why should life be about enduring rather than enjoyment?

10th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

An entry last week established a timeframe setting an intention to integrate a space for affirmations or breathing into my morning daily routine. It appears the aspect of physically positioning myself in such a way is the barrier needing to be overcome. I have identified that an acceptance of not choosing to complete the task results from the stiffness felt in my body upon first waking. Ultimately, meaning I am not achieving the outcome due to the necessary effort involved. Interesting, it contradicts my entire underlying approach to life since starting my plan to find a place for Cancer.

Often when talking about Cancer, I use the phrase ‘what it brought to me’ in an attempt to reframe common conceptions about the experience. My outlook towards Cancer is to view it in terms of what is can provide, opposed to what can be taken away. It was developed in the initial post-surgery phase to combat a sense of me believing in ‘enduring’ pain or discomfort as a means of progression. The roots of this belief commenced whist lying in the hospital bed recovering from the surgery, and later it was applied in many areas of my life, including swimming in a pool. For example, I was wanting to stop swimming, however, thoughts about enduring the discomfort of the process kept me swimming more laps than desired. Consequently, a level of risk to my health could have resulted from this belief. At present, I am attempting to shift this belief about enduring to simply living my life. The reasoning derives from a belief in the need for a healthy mindset, and the connotations associated with a life of enduring do not equate to a healthy mindset.

Personal accountability

9th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Today, a cross was put through an imaginary calendar. The mental cross is a tool used to encourage rest at varying periods. It was applied today to assist in the process of improving my health back into a position enabling me to overcome the lingering flu symptoms experienced, particularly in regards to the level of movement in my life. The mental cross is one of the many tools included within the plan designed directly following my discharge from hospital. The plan was basically notes containing information from readings, past experiences & discussions with others.

A comparison from the period of planning and implementation to the present day would show the only exception is designated space within my daily routine to work on furthering certain ideas, especially in relation to further the content based upon the mentioned Sunflower Framework. The matter of holding groups and the associated factors involved in bringing the idea to fruition links directly to my motivation and accountability. A quick snapshot of the week clearly indicates no further progress has been made on the content developed from last week. Yes, I have not been feeling well and a degree of balance is crucial to making a place for Cancer within my future life, however, the question I ask myself relates to how this would be viewed in a different environment, such as the workplace? The answer is simple, and reinforces the need to set timescales for myself whilst also recruiting the assistance of someone to oversee my idea, ensuring I am accountable to timeframes rather than allowing the idea to drift into the abyss of past failed ventures. The role of a friend will play exactly the same as performed by a manager or coach within a working environment. The person or persons I seek for support will be imperative. The individual or persons involved need to be supportive whilst also providing constructive feedback, and importantly have knowledge in the specific area of interest. The value of seeking assistance on a matter such as plumbing from an accountant with no prior knowledge about plumbing may be a useful reminder when thinking about who is best to recruit in my future journey.

I don’t have the capacity, energy or focus required to further write, especially as mentioned the day has been crossed out in my imaginary calendar. The topic just brings to the forefront of my thinking about the importance of accountability, and a matter needing to address either tomorrow or the following week.

– What areas in your life may require a degree of accountability, and if so, how will you go about setting timescales for the completion of individual steps needed to achieve your goals?
– Who in the network of people around you can be called into your personal plans to hold you accountable?

Proposed model to work with people who have Cancer


29th September 2014: Sydney, Australia

The drawing above symbolises the proposal I am creating, with the goal of operating facilitated educational groups for people with Cancer. Prior to commenting further, I recognise the details of my ‘Sunflower framework for Cancer’ is by no means revolutionary. On the contrary, many other existing frameworks about healthy living are composed of similar themes. So the question may be posed of why state a framework has been created if similar groups already operate? I would argue, many programmes regardless of the topic operate under fundamental principles to the specific area. I feel a crossover in some content may be present, however, the designed activities and homework tasks separate the programme from others, and importantly, would benefit those who participate The framework is a concrete model applied into my own life, a guidance of sorts, helping me to progress throughout my time thus far. Moreover, I feel it will be very helpful for others in a similar situation, especially should they adopt the model. In addition, the framework can act as a tool for increasing the understanding of others playing a supportive/caring role for a person with Cancer who is working on a plan to achieve longterm health and well-ness.
The Sunflower Framework consists of seven principles, all inseparable to ensure a complete and wholesome approach to Cancer is adopted. The sunflower is seen as the perfect visual representation for the principles. Similar to a sunflower and it’s petals, not all the principles have to be adopted for the flower (you) to exist, however, comparing a full thriving sunflower to one depleted of it’s petals can be reflective of the health of your body. Therefore, I am proposing that for you to be flourishing and living as healthy as possible, then all the principles need to be applied.
When breaking down certain aspects, the stem is of course an essential component of the sunflower. In this instance it can resemble the journey of Cancer. It is hoped that over time the stem becomes strong and gains in length, equating to you achieving strength and longevity. The sunflower is also seasonal, again comparable to the experience of Cancer, with a combination of days feeling significantly brighter than others. Lastly, the meaning of the sunflower is of importance. A google search showed, the sunflower’s petals have been likened to bright yellow rays of sunshine, which evoke feelings of warmth and happiness.
To expand upon the meaning of the sunflower and it’s relevance to Cancer immediately elicits a sense of health, life and survival. Moreover, the warmth is associated with a comfort in the knowledge of having a direction to work towards building the strength needed to find a place for the Cancer in your life. Finally, adoration is all about love, and Cancer has the capacity to build, renew or strengthen love in your life. A love and appreciation required to fully accomplish a sense of happiness, in whatever form love may manifest.