Not simply a new chapter, rather a new book

25th October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

A new dawn has arrived. Admittedly, it is rather vague entry, and hearing I am fatigued and battling a sore throat only seems to add a level of intrigue to how this can be deemed a new chapter in my life. If you are a little confused, then stay with me to hear my explanation.

Previously, an entry in these circumstances would have been saturated in a fear and worry about what these symptoms meant about my health. In contrast, I have been able to shift my interpretations of the symptoms to plainly seeing the sore throat and fatigue symbolising a return to the times of BC (Before Cancer). All throughout my teen and adulthood, a sore throat was the first sign of my body fighting an infection, and opposed to making a correlation between the sore throat and Cancer, I view the sore throat symbolising the beginning of the new narrative I frequently comment upon. In all honesty, I initially did switch into a mode whereby I automatically experienced concern, and of course, I could easily still be stuck in the destructive pattern. The driving motivation behind switching my thoughts derived from a belief in the need to approach my situation differently compared with how I lived after my first surgery. Really, if I am constantly worried and link every little symptom to Cancer, then how am I ever going to live a normal life? Lastly, I also think about the laws of attraction, and ponder whether so much mental energy placed on Cancer actually encourages it to resurface. Surely, it is far better to normalise my situation, and simply bring to fruition this new narrative I frequently reference.

Arrogance or belief?

6th April 2015: Avoca Beach, Central Coast of New South Wales

Easter is a time of the year whereby I catch up with family, and has recently become a time for future options to be discussed. Particular periods on the calendar make comparisons of my circumstances from last year to now more defined. On reflection, it was interesting to relive some of the memories about my condition last year. For example, my weight, skin colour & intricacies of the surgery are some memorable examples of the discussion. Admittedly, the discussion elicits no negative emotion at all. Rather, the recollections only reinforces the progress I feel has been made thus far, and provides motivation to allow further progress to be made.

Naturally, conversation also shifts to future options, and again, a confidence is felt in expressing my thoughts and emotions. At present my plans are fairly brief. I will be going to Indonesia, hope to implement the designed programme later this year, and a return to work will occur next year. I understand the statement seems arrogant whilst also contradicting previous comments about setting timeframes upon myself, however, currently my chain of thought is firmly fixed on total recovery, and I have self-belief the points will come to fruition.

Questions about who I am..

18th February 2015: Depot Beach (New South Wales East Coast)

It seems an important aspect of removing myself from Sydney with a good friend to such a quiet location has facilitated the process to concentrate and later discuss in confidence a number of matters that have been at the forefront of my thinking. Namely, my relationship and place in life, and not just in a context of a person recently single after my breakup, however, my relationship with the story that defines me as a person who is on treatment for Cancer.

I must acknowledge, there are times whereby doubts about future prospects are ever present, and consequently I am left to live between paradoxical states. I also recognise, it is impossible to just define my relationship with Cancer in an instant. Admittedly, I do feel opportunities, such as the life lived in the current surroundings greatly promote a deeper understanding of the connection had with myself, and lastly, the option of just allowing my body and mind to drift into the tranquility, slow pace and peace available on offer in my current environment acts comparably to a spiritual retreat whereby every chance is available to both seek and receive many questions relating to who I am as a person.

Journalling and accountability

11th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

It appears the effectiveness of journalling is once again showing it’s value. Imagine how frequent ideas are created, attracting your full attention for a period of time before they become just a memory at best. The journal, especially when setting myself targets ensures I remain focused, opposed to allowing an idea to drift into a past of what if! The journal also plays a key role in personal accountability. For instance, my monthly shot was taken yesterday, making it now 10 consecutive months whereby my physical recovery has been tracked. A rather simple task, and something that should be adhered to with no excuses, however, I doubt the capacity of remaining on task before writing a journal. Secondly, my Sunflower Framework! As mentioned, I am currently awaiting feedback, and have recognised a change in my ability to dedicate space and energy towards the project. Again, previously would this have been possible? Yes, the fact of having Cancer can assist the motivation, however, the journal keeps me motivated, stimulated and accountable to make the project a reality.

On reflection, a level of gratification could already be obtained by sharing the project with others, however, what meaning does that hold, or importantly what benefit is it to others with Cancer if it just a project of vanity? I am fortunate to have qualified people who can provide the constructive feedback needed to support me in reaching a certain standard with the project whereby it is able to operate in the community. I must note my acknowledgment of the project being a dream at this stage, however, how pleasing and satisfying would it be to start making dreams a reality.

Rest

7th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

The MRI is scheduled for tomorrow! A few more days of waiting then I will be getting the next all clear from the doctor. The results will be both a relief plus a reassurance that all is progressing to plan, i.e. I will survive. Importantly, as previously mentioned, I will be able to approach future periods like the one just passed with a sense of normality. Hopefully when experiencing a sore throat, aches or sinus I will be able to just associate it with the flu.

Interestingly, today is the best I have felt since returning home, with plans established for the day including a reintroduction of physical exercise and some light yoga. I did manage to go for a surf, and again slight feelings of nausea surfaced. I attempted some meditation, but instead drifted into a deep sleep. Upon rising blurry eyed, knowing I had missed the chance to do some movement, planning shifted for at least completing a light session of yoga. The very thought process is reflective of my incapacity to value rest. Fortunately, in this instance, I was able to reason with myself, drawing on principles from the designed framework to simply rest.

The matter of resting is pivotal for all of us, and is almost seen as a weakness in the fast paced dominant cultures within both Australia and United Kingdom. Attitudes are influenced by a technological crazed population (I say this whilst typing on my tablet), and my experience of employment consisted of long-hours and weekend work viewed as badges of honour. Admittedly, I was a participating member of this fast paced way of life with limited rest planned into my weekends and the complacency adopted to working over and above requested hours. Obviously, my mind-state still requires attention in rewiring the outlook in relation to the importance of rest and the need to switch off from the internet or my phone. I do believe progress is being made, and responding appropriately to the two hours sleep today is evidence of a shift in mind-state. Obviously rest was needed, and to force myself through this would be putting stress onto my body, a factor completely undesired. and a key focus of my life I am trying to eliminate.

Has Cancer become your life?

4th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

In response to the email exchange, my chemotherapy increased today. An immediate measurement on the impact it had is difficult to define. It should be noted, I am aware the chemotherapy I receive differs greatly to others, and I can only empathise with those going for rounds of chemotherapy whereby the body is literally attacked, leaving the person in a state of ruin. As stated, I do empathise with those individuals and families and praise their strength and am working towards this not featuring within my future story.

In relation to my symptoms, I did have my usual afternoon crash, feeing very tired with my muscles and body both rigid whilst my mind was ticking over. The question is whether the relatively small increase in medication lead to these feelings or it is a matter of my mind telling me to expect feeling tired. One of the main messages needing to be established is the need to have an understanding of your thinking. The message is the very essence encompassing my outlook to Cancer, and is actually not solely applicable to Cancer but all aspects of life. It is not by any means a new idea, however, it is pivotal to my story thus far, and seems to be necessary to reinforce as it will hopefully will provide ideas to others about working their way around the seemingly unshifting boulder that has been placed in their middle of their road.

When discussing the matter of having an understanding of your thinking, it is ultimately due to feelings held about Cancer becoming your life. Well, it has become my life. I’m not in fear, and you certainly won’t hear me stating ‘why me’ nor will you see me searching and hoping for a cure. I must note at this time, this is my specific story and I know others won’t share the same view about their own Cancer and the Cancer ravaging their loved one’s, however, I am encouraging all to tap into their mind, using it to reshape their view and understanding of Cancer. In some cases, it is a heart breaking event causing the loss of life. For others, myself included, it strangely becomes liberating. For example, what are the first words you associate with the word Cancer? Just to share, the word that comes to my mind is life. Life, a total appreciation for it, a newly found learning curve, a challenging of beliefs, all of which is accompanied by a fresh perception of everything deemed to be health promoting or a contributor to undesired, insignificant and a detrimental stressor to my body.

How does this all link to my mind and the reshaping of a perception built about Cancer? Well, after the initial shock of hearing, and in my case seeing the news (look on doctors face, spoke volumes abut the seriousness of the circumstances without a word uttered), I was placing the illness, treatment and recovery all in a position whereby I would be ok, and would get through it. I did not know what it would entail and in a sense was naive, however, I did not get anchored into negative patters about death, worry and dying. Was I scared? Am I scared? Of course. In response, I am finding a place for it within my life, and I am achieving this by better using my thinking and linking this with my growing understanding of how the body works. All of this, has been sought from various readings, and is guiding me to my destined life of health and wellness. I think the idea of being positive needs to be connected to this point because I’m sure these words, deriving from a good place, need more explanation. Are we just to be positive about everything? Is being positive about everything normal, especially when faced with the prospect of dying? Of course not, as humans we experience a range of emotions, and to say ‘be positive’ in a sense dismisses what you are experiencing. It is not at all intentional and it partly arises from the discomfort some of us can feel when faced with such events, however, it is to be expected and is normal to not feel positive about everything. My advice would be to allow yourself to experience the emotions involved with your circumstances, however, be resourceful in equipping your mind with information and tools essential to intervening at the point your thinking becomes destructive. There is no magical set point for all of us, it is the preparation completed in advance to truly know yourself. I have a belief that my mind and body will be in the best position possible to protect me should an attack be launched again. Over the many readings, there are many points that have stayed with me, one of which is about the complexities of the mechanisms involved in you reading this. Take a moment to think about whether you are controlling your heat beating, your digestive system at work or the cells regenerating within your body. It is simple. No you’re not! The body is an amazing, resilient and evolved design, built to serve you. Therefore, it is in your power to further your learning about what you can do to know yourself and remain healthy.

Decision to commence journalling

27th August 2014: London, United Kingdom

The date of the entry is fairy self-explanatory, marking today as the starting point for sharing the thoughts and feelings collected over the past eight months. My reason bending sharing these entries mirror the feelings for embarking on a mission to track the experiences of haing Cancer (a point to be later revealed). With that short introduction finished, the below content and future entries all follow a chronoligical order recorded on the date provided at the beginning of each entry.

Prior to commencing a number of points need to be established. Firstly. I’m not going to have rules governing the entries in this process, i.e. everyday an entry needs to be made, the content needs to relate to my situation or a sequential pattern needs to be followed. A prime example of not adhering to a sequential order will be demonstrted by not following immediately with a second or third point, and instead look more closely at indirect reference made above. ‘My situation’ is otherwise known as the Cancer that was inside my body at the start of the year. By not labelling it as Cancer questions whether I have accepted the reality of the situation or if the terminology is used as a strategy to undermine it’s influence whilst enhancing my own control. From this very initial paragraph it is evident that this and many other topics require continuous revisiting and also establishes a theme about the somewhat subtle and more direct attempts I make at finding a stratergy to manage my health and overall life.

Second point, and being brutally honest is about the audience and purpose of these entries. Yes, the use of ‘these entries’ indicates a commitment to continuing this process, which then leads me to wonder whether my ego is largely at play here, screaming “it’s showtime, lets put this together to write a book or use a guide when running the groups that I have envisioned”. The group is a seperate idea whereby focusing on supporting individuals with Cancer and ideas for how individuals & carers both understand, process and prepare for their upcoming or present situations arising from their Cancer diagnosis. I am fully aware that the idea requires timescales and deadlines to actually see the idea become a reality. Otherwise, it will is just be like the market stall in London, the creation of an app or numerous other ideas that have gained my full attention than faded quickly into a past of thinking ‘what if’.
So back to the journal, the purpose/audience and the need for honesty. I would like to think that it may be useful to collect some of my thoughts and then someday, who knows, why not dream big and think that groups will be running and a selfhelp book can be published. Already, a degree of fear is noticed whilst writing this first entry. Consciously I will write, ‘how I will use the material’ opposed to ‘how the material will be used’. I feel this terminology places me in a position that creates a future for me, a future of life and to hijack words by others, a future of survival. All sounding very dramatic, however, it is the features of my stratergy to work towards achieving long-term health and well-being. Furthermore, in a more pragmatic view, it can be used to track my thoughts, reactions, celebrations and challenges to equip me for future scenarios.

Third point, the timing of the journal. Why didn’t I start writing once ‘my situaiton’ started? Well, it seems rather simple, and is clearly demonstrated by two key words, motivation and meaning! Many direct/subtle remarks about writing a journal were made from the very beginning. Plus, the message was reinforced in a book read from Dr Ian Gawler (how to cure cancer), however, there was a lack of any motivation in undertaking the activity. Furthermore, it had no meaning in my life. Interestingly, I have tracked the physical exercises completed, symptoms and my eating/drinking habits prior to the escalation of hearing the news that I had Caner, yet, I didn’t have the need or could not find purpose in writing a journal. The logical question surely then must be, why now? I think as noted before, it is whether I use this for personal reflection to track how I was thinking and what I have applied throughout the process or if this in someway takes shape to help others. Already, a sense is felt whereby both examples outline the main obstacle requiring attention. The obstacle is whether I am going to survive. The response must entail a level of normality in these thoughts, however, recognising that I cannot entertain them. Instead, I need to create, dream and focus on that loving, happy, wholesome and healthy life awaiting me.

A shift off topic occurred again. Maybe the prior passage speaks for itself, i.e. that my motivation wasn’t focused on writing a journal. Rather, my belief and energy was directed completely to getting through it all. The reason for writing now, well, is it optimistic to think further entries will follow symbolising a future and the realisation of my dreams. Also, the thought came to me and like many aspects of our lives, there needs to be a number of elements in place to the formation of a tangible item, whatever that may be. So why now, eight months after surgery did I start writing? It followed a discussion with a manager at work. Before we got onto the speaking about cases, we were having one of those engaging conversaitons where you can bounce all the accummulated informaition onto someone and also listen to what they are saying. Mind you, he has also had a close personal encounter with Cancer. Therefore, a degree of comfort is found, and he simply asked whether I am writing any or all of this down, to which I replied no. When leaving, the thought came to my mind and seemed like a completely necessary task to start working on.