The waiting game

2nd December 2015: Sydney, Australia

As much as I would like to write about other topics, my attention is centred firmly on obtaining the results from the most recent scans completed. I strongly believe there may be a chance of acquiring the necessary information, but that would mean breaking my pact to learn of the outcomes of the scan. If so, does a weakness correlate with my thinking? I need strength, I need to be healthy, I need to continue playing the waiting game.

The mental strength needed to create a new future

 

 

27th October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Writers block is a rather common phrase, and I am sure it will resonate with a few who are reading this. The typical association of writers block varies to the following content as I am using the phrase to express the difficulty encountered in creating my new life story I am desperately wanting to bring to fruition.

Since last writing, obstacles have definitely surfaced, and I was stuck in a cloud of thoughts questioning the reason why there is such a fear associated with Cancer. Why is every bodily symptom linked to a questioning of whether a looming nuclear destructive being will come to fight me again? The specific chain of thought stemmed from an incredibly tough period just passed. Honestly, I went to bed on Sunday at 9pm to wake up at 7am on Tuesday. Admittedly, sporadic periods occurred whereby I got out of bed to get some fruit, however, virtually the entire 34 hours were spent in a state of utter despair, with feelings of fatigue and bodily aches consistently experienced. In keeping with the theme from the previous post, I am trying to place this ordeal in a positive frame whereby a degree of normality has once again finally been obtained, however, it takes great mental strength to keep the demons away who persist on telling me the new narrative will never be achieved.

Does a stigma actually exist?

27th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I constantly perceive a certain stigma is attached to my Cancer diagnosis. Just to note, I am a single 31 year old man, living downstairs at the house of my parents, and am unemployed. Honestly, you would be right in thinking I am not really the best catch in the world, especially bearing in mind other factors associated with the Cancer I was diagnosed with, namely, the fact of remaining for an unknown period of time on Chemotherapy whilst having an anticipated limited life expectancy. For anyone thinking I am in need of sympathy is incorrect. I am not naive, and understand I am unable to predict the future, however, I have confidence in both my survival and continual progression in my life. In saying that, admittedly, a sense of loss is always easy to locate, particularly when reminiscing on the possible missed opportunities in my life. The question seeming to surface from writing is more a question about my fears stemming from a sense of loss, compounded by changes to my identity. Upon recognising this point, I believe the points just mentioned trump the opening comments about the stigma of Cancer, and simply it is my fears and sense of loss feeding into false projection about the stigma attached to my circumstances.

When tears symbolise hope

16th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

The tears have not been able to stop. At almost every moment, I just break out into tears, and find it hard to control myself. It seemed a climaxed whilst seeing my mum last night, becoming an absolute wreck. Both my brothers and dad were obviously upset, yet, holding themselves well, and there I am next to her bed, sobbing while holding her hand.

I have thought about the reasons for crying, and keep coming back to a level of guilt associated with the stressors I have placed on her whilst also thinking I may be crying for both of us. I know this sounds odd, however, my mum did not allow herself to cry throughout the past 20 months, and I feel my outburst of emotion reflects the pain she held in while also symbolising the commencement of the healing process for both my mum and I.

The power of love

15th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have just seen off my mum at the hospital, and honestly more tears have been shed over the past two days in comparison to the entirety of my experience with Cancer. The feelings attached to the circumstances unfolding for my mum highlight the point covered yesterday regarding the impact Cancer (or any illness/disability) can have on the loved ones of an individual.

Ironically, the experience with my mum has provided a renewed thirst for life. I can understand the absurdity in the above statement, so an explanation will be detailed. Firstly, I must say a level of guilt is felt surrounding the predicament my mum now faces, and I see this stemming from the stressors I am responsible for. The stressors started during my teen years with a range of adolescent behaviours, however, the climax was approximately 20 months ago when I informed my parents I had a tumour growing inside of me. From the point of that initial phone call, I know my mum has constantly worried about me. It is this worry and concern that gives me drive. Of course I am upset, and will continue to shed more tears over the coming weeks, however, I am determined to make her happy in the future whilst supporting her get to a place whereby she sees me living a fulfilling life with a loving and beautiful family of my own. Yes, again the hopeless romantic in me is on display, and in conclusion, I believe the power of love is needed to replace the cloud of worry and concern strangling my family at present.

A new test for my family

14th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have always referred to the widespread impact a singular Cancer can have on many, particularly those closest to a person, and unfortunately, it appears my initial worries have manifested. I heard the news when getting into my car after having my latest scan. It was my mum calling as usual, however, immediately I detected something different this time when she said, “I don’t want you to worry but”.

Information surrounding my mum has come to light with further testing, and she is scheduled to have a Cancer removed tomorrow. Personally, I see a correlation between the recent turn of events and the stress associated with the challenges endured over last 20 months. My reasoning derives from research read when first discovering I had Cancer. The exact findings of the paper are not remembered in full detail, however, a trend was noticed in a Cancer diagnosis leading to an increased risk of health concerns for significant others. I am not at all seeking sympathy from others, merely, attempting to highlight the importance of looking at Cancer on a larger scale, especially how loved ones need to make space in their lives to care for themselves whilst having positive, healthy and appropriate avenues to channel the stressors involved in the circumstances. Lastly, I wish to outline the very pivotal point of remembering what worked for me may not be the best for her. Therefore, I need to take myself out of the situation, and simply reciprocate the unconditional love and support shown to me.

Matcha Green Tea = ?

28th August 2015: Sydney, Australia

Honestly, it seems a gigantic hole of worry and fear can take complete control of me when just the slightest pain or discomfort is experienced. For instance, I had a cup of Matcha Green tea this morning, and am currently writing this entry seven hours later, crouched over in agony from the stomach cramping endured throughout the day. I was totally unprepared for such a reaction, and have only made the connection between the tea and intense cramping when looking at the many online posts. Obviously, it doesn’t just stop with a thought of it deriving from the tea. The big ‘what if’ questions looms large within my thought process, and it is comparable to a fallen group of large boulders on a road whereby I can find now way of getting through the predicament. I acknowledge it is a massive overreaction, especially bearing in mind how well I have been recently progressing, however, it is clear evidence of how easily fear can surface within my consciousness.

What is Mitotane

25th August 2015: Sydney, Australia

Research was completed into the claims heard by the young person yesterday who stated, ‘the chemotherapy I am taking is a pesticide’. For anyone wanting to cross reference the above information should note, the drug is called Mitotane, and it does seemingly appear to derive from a pesticide called DDT. For anyone not familiar with the pesticide DDT, should also be made aware of the fact it was banned for human consumption by the USA in 1972.

I am consciously aware of the limitations I have in interpreting the information surrounding how the drug was derived from the pesticide, and what possible implications could be associated with the continual use of the drug. Therefore, an email was sent to my Professor expressing an interest in discussing the matter at the next appointment. Basically, my intentions are to make an informed decision, weighing up the risks versus the advantages, especially considering the original form of the drug is now banned in most parts of the world. Furthermore, the limited research on the drug compounded by the fact of the reoccurrence makes me feel inclined to see no separation between the effectiveness of the drug in comparison to other options. Most notably, use of the Cannabis Oil on planned intervals throughout a year combined with an overhaul of my dietary and lifestyle choices. Obviously, I will not be making any rash decisions, however, my current thinking seems to be fairly evident within the writing thus far.

What is pain?

20th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I am writing this entry, awaiting to be called for my first scheduled operation on my right lung. I am nil by mouth, a factor possibly contributing to my seemingly intensified medicated state. To my advantage, the medication is both managing the pain from the two procedures completed thus far whilst stopping any invasive or worrying thoughts affecting my outlook. The day at a close will be rather eventful, particularly when bearing in mind the story below.

At this moment, I should have had only one procedure, however, two drains adjacent to my wound were required three days ago to release a build up of liquid caused by an infection. Samples since taken have showed the procedure was successful, leading to the removal of the drains this morning. Prior to removing the drains, the nursing staff advised me the specific drain typically causes a degree of pain during the removal process. Interestingly though, the whole process was completed with a level of ease, and it was made possible by identifying with the concept of fear. On reflection, it seems I gained an understanding of the correlation between fear and anticipated pain. The term, anticipated pain was used to separate pain into two domains. One whereby obviously it is anticipated and another type of pain, namely, when it results from a sudden or unexpected event. Basically, I came to conclude if there was no fear, then the body would not be preparing itself for pain in the moments leading up to the expected event. Upon applying this theory, I was able to recognise the information provided by the nurses sent me into a state of fear, and therefore, I was expecting to feel pain. Once this was identified, I was able to draw on an inspirational story of Mick Fanning, a surfer who today was able to escape a shark attack unscathed. I envisioned what he must have been feeling before his encounter compared to the removal of two drains. The mental exercise enabled me to place the upcoming events in context, resulting in a distraction/blockage in my mind. In summary, I was not focused on the anticipated/expected feeling in my body, and consequently, any degree of fear dissipated whilst also leading to a removal of pain when the drains were withdrawn.

If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now

30th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have found the following quote extremely useful in helping find a place for my actions and behaviours over the weekend. I must also add, it makes me also appreciate this exact moment, and not be burdened by perceived past failings or potential future fears.

The quote was made by Damien Echols, a member of infamous ‘The Memphis Three’. Echols stated, “The thing I like most about time is that it’s not real. It’s all in the head. Sure, it’s a useful trick if you wanna meet someone at a specific place in the universe to have tea or coffee. But that’s all it is, a trick. There’s no such thing as the past, it exists only in the memory. There’s no such thing as the future, it exists only in our imagination. If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now”.