9th December 2015: Sydney, Australia
Does anyone else have feelings where they are intent on entering a 100 metre sprint, but instead find you are actually at the starting blocks of the hurdles with many obstacles ahead? My reasoning for the above question stems from the disappointment encountered when visiting my Professor today. Prior to the appointment, I was focused on having discussions based around the timeframes for my chemotherapy to finish, inevitably placing me in a position whereby I am capable of re-entering the workforce in the new year. How circumstances can change. I walked out of the hospital with another two month supply of chemotherapy whilst weighed down by future predictions about how I can support a future family and find satisfaction in my choice of employment if needing to stay on chemotherapy for an indefinite period of time. Admittedly, I may be a little over dramatic, and should note my appreciation for life, especially in the short term, however, at times it seems the cloud of uncertainty hovering over me can temporary blind me to the love and gratitude I currently have for my life.
3rd December 2015: Sydney, Australia
Results of my scans have been shared, and I am both fortunate and happy to say it was all clear. Ultimately, I can finally use the results to my benefit whereby I am able to normalise future scenarios, and hopefully not have such a fear associated with the results. Now, focus will shift to the frequency of scans, especially with one doctor being of the opinion that scans only add to the anxiety of the situation, possibly causing unnecessary stress. Personally, upon hearing news similar to this morning alleviate all stress. Therefore, I completely disagree with the advice of my doctor, and hope my other doctor sees my reasoning before deciding to schedule in the next scan.
I do acknowledge a major step to overcome is the comfort in not having regular scans, however, I am yet to be in such a position. A lot can happen in a year, so let’s see where I am this time next year 😄
30th November 2015: Sydney, Australia
I want to walk away from this life of Cancer, actually a more apt description would entail me running away with only one destination insight. Interestingly, my intentions seem to be clear about moving on from this chapter in my life, however, I still hold onto parts of the narrative. For instance, my scans were completed today, and many of my close friends were notified about this in the preceding weeks. The question circulating throughout my mind centres upon disparity in my intentions and actions. If I really wished to move on from this, then would I still be telling people close to me about the upcoming scan? Would it not be similar to attending a dentist for an appointment! Obviously, differences exist, and I am looking forward to celebrating the positive news at the end of the week, however, I feel next time, no mention of the scan will be made.
25th November 2015: Sydney, Australia
The recent decision to trial varying yoga teaches and styles has resulted in the sense of needing to share a specific experience with others. Last night, I arrived as usual to the studio, prepared with some brief stretches before being informed the class would proceed without use of our predominant sense. Obviously, there was an option to discard the blindfold, however, I was not going to pass on this moment. Immediately, an excitement, intrigue and overall enthusiasm was felt at this foreign prospect. Honestly, no hesitations were present within my thinking. Instead, a receptive, curious and awaiting mind was centred upon the next hour.
At the most basic level, eliminating our sight could link to thoughts about an unsteadiness, and of course, I imagine differences would have been evident if the many times I had my vision were compared with yesterday. However, solely focusing on a physical unsteadiness overlooks the deeper awareness allowed to open when a shift occurs in the way we reliance on our senses. Honestly, the class facilitated a deeper connection in regards to the relationship between my body and the space around me whilst also making me feel attuned to what was happening inside my mind. Furthermore, the act of temporarily taking away the sight from everyone in the room allowed a true freedom to exist. A freedom whereby everyone could move without a worry about how they looked.
18th November 2015: Sydney, Australia
I am unable to comprehend how the support provided to my mum in certain situations is the exact opposite to what I would be wanting if the roles were reversed. The thinking behind the entry stems from the circumstances I currently find myself within. At present, I am sitting in a chair adjacent to my mum whom is receiving her second round of Chemotherapy. I would love to be more supportive, showing even half the level of support shown to me throughout the many months, however, it seems a total loathing of the setting makes me switch into a mode whereby I close myself off from the world around me. Strangely, the setting is all very modern with attentive staff and a relatively pleasant atmosphere, however, I am unable to overcome the feelings and attitudes held towards the place. The reasoning behind my attitudes may either be the desire to move away on a personal level from the world of Cancer or whether the whole place, including the flight attendant smiles plastered on the face of the nurses combined with the free wifi evoke thoughts about the amount of money made from Cancer. Admittedly, another reason could be identified, namely, the completely cynical stance seemingly emerging within my mindset when thinking about Cancer.
1st November 2015: Snapper Rocks, Queensland
I received a text from a friend containing a photo of me from when I was 24 years old, and almost immediately, I noticed a body I have become so unfamiliar with. The striking difference is of course a long forgotten flat abdomen region spanning across the entirety of my lower torso whilst further examination reminds me of the normal chest I had prior to starting the chemotherapy that caused my chest to be more akin to the body of a 14 year old girl. If a greater analysis was undertaken, then I can also connect with a completely carefree attitude evident in my face, however, I wish to keep all emphasis on the noticeable changes in my body resulting from the lasting impact of consecutive surgeries and the course of treatment tackled thus far.
There are many paths for this entry to lead down, and the singular route to be explored relates to the question about the importance of body image. Firstly, is it a reflection of my shallowness to even think about some scarring and an enlarged chest when taking into consideration the fact I am here, alive and smiling? Secondly, please consider the situations for many others, particularly women who some may argue lose some of their femininity when having a breast removed or have the need for a colostomy bag. Just to note, I do not hold this view about women, however, I have both heard and read this to be true, so wanted to widen the scope for discussion about the connection between Cancer and body image.
Ultimately, my current predicament is obviously preferred over death, and believe most others will hold the same position, however, a seemingly blanket view held from others about being superficial for placing emphasis on this topic is simply mirroring a misunderstanding about the impact of certain factors associated with Cancer. As noted in previous entries, I believe it can often be the secondary factors that haunt people who have experienced Cancer, and the only means for decreasing the impact is for educating the masses about some of the areas that may simply be overlooked by discarding these concerns by a belief that everyone should just be grateful to be alive.
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.
22nd October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Two weeks ago, I briefly talked about a form of exercise called Tabata. My opinion on the type of exercise has not changed, and it was proving to be extremely beneficial till deciding to modify the routine. The decision to make changes stemmed from a desire to further intensify the range of exercises, however, it appeared my body was not prepared for the additional load. Consequently, I had to have a week of rest, and was sent for an ultrasound to see whether I had damaged my abdomen. Fortunately, the results were positive, meaning there was no serious damage. Instead, I had placed a significant amount of stress on the abdominal region of my body without it being in a position to take such a load. At a very basic level, I can easily look back on the situation with regret, feeling the decision to intensify the exercise was premature. Some may agree with this explanation, however, I believe my body would have been ready for the changes if I followed my rehabilitation plan from last surgery. On reflection, it seems I was naively under the impression of seeing myself as progressing much faster than last time. Admittedly, many areas may superficially support this position, however, the key point being overlooked was a misdirection in my focus. The best way to articulate my point is to make comparisons at varying stages throughout my two recoveries.
So, after the second surgery I started swimming at six weeks before adding yoga, tabata and surfing into the schedule. I gradually starting swimming faster and a greater distance, and mentally felt better than last time. Now, at 14 weeks, a disparity exists between where was I was last time compared to my current position, and it results entirely from being totally blinded by my objectives. Last time, each step was concentrated on based on what was required at that time. This time, I wanted to pass all the steps in favour of recommencing the belief held about the goals of rebuilding my body still being incomplete. Consequently, I am now needing to work backwards, and it reinforces the imperativeness of thoroughly adhering to a rehabilitation plan.
18th October 2015: Sydney, Australia
I understand the message yesterday was a little militant, and the style may have polarise some of you, however, regardless of whether it is something you enjoy or not, there are benefits just waiting if you would accept the challenge. Admittedly, the thought of swimming laps, wading through the water or completing other exercises does not always evoke an eagerness or joy, however, the intended target of this experiment is to both psychologically challenge the mind whilst hopefully encouraging whoever is reading this to reap the health benefits associated with completing some form of movement in the water. Similar to running, or other exercise pending the interests of people, the thought of swimming can be too mundane or not something previously deemed a valuable inclusion in your weekly plan of movement. In all honesty, it is not easy, but either are the challenges in life. So, accept the challenge by jumping in the water, push through the doubt, and finally reap in the awaiting benefits.
17th October 2015: Sydney, Australia
The content about to be delivered is entirety captured in the title. Simply, I believe swimming or some form of activity in the water should form part of your exercise routine. Just to note, I am writing this knowing some people will already click away, and maybe there is something greater occurring in the thinking behind the actions of those seconds away from deleting this post from their minds. Most notably, whether a correlation exists between the reason for clicking away and the reluctance to follow the advice provided. To state it as simply as possible, for some, I believe the thought of swimming is too hard or not something you enjoy. I must acknowledge, the only group of people excluded from the post are those with no accessibility to a pool or place to swim. To everyone else, I challenge you to commit to swimming within the next week. Obviously, if modifications need to be made, due to varying capacities, then modify as required. To the rest of you. Swim!