10th September 2014: London, United Kingdom
My seven month shot was taken today. An explanation and reasoning for taking a monthly shot, particularly a picture in my underwear is obviously required. The idea came to the forefront my thinking at the time of my mind unconsciously switching into a mode of self-belief after discovering the tumour (see image above). In somewhat of a paradox, all available resources of tears simultaneously drained from my eyes upon hearing the news. Therefore, upon receiving confirmation a week later that it was Cancer was no great shock. Actually, it only reinforced the state of instinctively knowing I was going to be ok. When reflecting on how I handled the news, I know the thought of death and pro-longed illness was immediately blocked, and the seriousness of the whole matter was downplayed by living in a state of denial. This seemed to allow me to firmly focus my sights on recovering and becoming better than ever before, i.e. mentally, emotionally & physically. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was determined that all would be ok. Furthermore, the prospect of the awaiting challenge was seen as a true test of who I am, and that I was more than happy to be the person facing the future adversities, opposed to it be my parents, brothers, family, girlfriend or any of my close friends.
I’m not suggesting that there wasn’t and isn’t times when I’m scared for my life, however, as noted, I saw an approaching defying test of my strength and character. A moment in my life whereby I would recover into a better man, brother, son, partner and friend. A comment from one of my close friends comes to mind. Similar a lot of conversations at the time, the topic was about my health, and he noted that not only will I have the chance to recover but also to enjoy the process of recovering. I think the comment highlights the support around me. Really, can the words enjoyment and Cancer be linked in the same sentence? My response is yes! Surely, there are times whereby I am scared for my life, however, it can also be reframed to be seen in a context whereby you undertake and implement a process of planning to re-strengthening your body and mind. I stand by my comments that Cancer didn’t shape who I now am, however, it forced to make a lot of changes that I had been dwelling on for years.
One of the questions I pondered on was the avenues to keeping myself accountable whilst also tracking the physical changes. In the past, brief notes had been collated about the food eaten over a day, amount of alcohol consumed on a night or the exercises completed for the week. Always, empty dates in my calendar would appear blank for months. Changes in my proficiency to consistently use this system increasingly played greater significance in my life during the months leading up to the diagnosis. For example, in my calendar I was tracking all the symptoms I was experiencing to share with doctors, i.e. sore throat again today, feeling tired, dizzy spells, etc. Inevitably, even greater emphasis was placed on tracking all the symptoms associated with my experiences upon finding out a tumour was inside me. The question then dawned on me of my capacity to stay accountable and motivated to track the symptoms, especially bearing in mind success had in the past. The fact of having Cancer may be sufficient reasoning, however, I wasn’t convinced, and planned to take a monthly picture of myself for at least a year after surgery. The plan was to see a progression from the hunched, skinny pale man starring at the camera to hopefully a stronger and happier person smiling back into the camera. The photos would also act as a visual reminder of how I had been throughout the duration of recovery, and the rewards seen from undertaking the hard-work needed to rebuild myself. In addition, I commenced tracking all the exercises completed and any significant events, i.e. date of surgery, release from hospital and who came to visit me. Just to note, I now also track my diet on a daily basis. I am not at all being obsessive about it, more using it as a guide to see any correlations between how I am feeling and what has taken place during the day or in the preceding days. Also, I thought it may prove helpful in the future as a tool for continual development.