Cancer is big business

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.

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Light at the end of the tunnel

22nd July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I am awaiting the call for another X-ray before having confirmation I can finally leave. Well, it will be more of a temporary hiatus at home before coming back for the final procedure in just over a week. Overall, the time has been successful, and in all honesty, I am easily able to overlook some of the frustrations when weighed against the actual outcomes obtained thus far. A similar outcome next week will be a fitting end to this entire ordeal, leaving me then in a position to direct my attention on recovery and continual progression towards existing life goals. On the matter of existing goals, my personal goals are to strive towards working to optimal health and well-being. In addition, I have had received interest in regards to the framework I designed for people with Cancer. Therefore, it seems a platform is established to launch the programme in partnership with a reputable national organisation in the attempt to seek positive outcomes for those who attend. To conclude, I must state that I am fairly happy with the awaiting options, and feel this minor slip will only further benefit my knowledge and capacity at managing the many future life obstacles to be encountered.

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.

Few pictures from time in hospital

16th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Australia

The following pictures were taken by a friend during my stay. An explanation for some of the images is probably needed. Firstly, no I am not auditioning for a part in Game of Thrones in the opening image. The second image was taken when my friend and I were playing around on ward, it was intended to seem as if I was attemoting a break out. I must say, the doctors and nurses were amused at the antics. Finally, apologies for the nudity, my friend was just snapping away throughout the session 😄

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Are patients empowered during their hospital stay?

14th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I honestly believe the compounding events have resulted in a sense of me feeling like I have lost my voice. For instance, is it ok to not have a warm water when showering? Is it ok to simply submit to the nurses when trying to administer drugs you do not wish to take? Is it ok discard the lecture provided yesterday about having Liver Cancer as just a mistake?

Maybe some leeway is needed on the latter point, however, I strongly feel my input seems to have been removed from most, if not all decisions recently made regarding my health. Furthermore, when putting the circumstances into context, it seems the level of care does not reflect the situation for someone living in Australia with premium private health care. The conundrum then becomes one pondering the type of circumstances for many of those in a less fortunate position. I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have private health care, however, if I feel a loss in my input, then I am curious about the capacity for people to voice their opinion when severely impaired, lacking in support, discriminated against or simply overwhelmed by their circumstances?

To conclude, I hold grave doubts about the intentions behind certain policies when the focus is meant to foster empowerment in people, however, conversely the reality seems to ultimately result in people losing control over their own health. I would greatly appreciate words and other experiences to collate information as a means of gauging the current systems governing us?

Drowning in opiates…

12th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I am writing in a dazed and confused state from the events endured last night. The circumstances seem evidence of the obstacles to be faced over the coming period. It commenced at approximately 10pm when a sensation of being utterly lost in a cloud of opiates became overwhelming. Consequently, a negative mindset surfaced whereby I felt extremely vulnerable, and when reflecting it is difficult to describe, however, basically my pain increased to an almost intolerable degree, and it was not till 5am when my medication was changed, knocking me asleep.

I am now awake, have had blood collected twice, feel heavily dazed, and not in a position to do anything except lie in bed focusing on past quotes to keep me balanced. The feeling is a perfect example of what I have been trying to explain to staff members about the need to find the balance between having the capacity that allows me to engage in activities whilst keeping the pain away. Hopefully, someone will soon understand this predicament!

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!