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.

You should swim

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!

An entry from the death docks!

9th July 2015: Sydney, Australia

I am currently sitting in the hospital, awaiting my name to be called for surgery. The scenery around me is dire. It is almost like all the people are at a waiting bay of death. In defence of the hospital, I can understand why the environment has such a mood, with a great deal of worry, concern and grief experienced by all in the room. The question I am thinking is how shifts could be made to the mood within the room? Immediately, solutions come to mind. How about:
– Brighter colours to elicit feelings that differ to the depressing wall facing me.
– A change from the sterile display of the room.
– Some cheerfulness or at least some degree of interest shown on the faces of the employees.
– Information about what to expect. Now, I am not asking for a compete layout, however, surely more information would assist then just signing a piece of paper then taking a seat in the deaths docks!

Lastly, I must acknowledge my feelings contribute greatly to being here, and it simply stems from a belief that I should not be here. I deeply feel that I do not belong is such an environment. Instead, I should be continuing my progression and strength towards a life of happiness and love that awaits.

Motivation

1st July 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have commenced watching motivational clips virtually everyday, and it seems to have helped make positive shifts when comparing my mindset at present to how I was functioning prior to my previous surgery. Currently, I feel an overwhelming sense of finality, as this being the final stage of the process. I can completely understand how absurd it sounds, especially upon hearing the Cancer has also appeared on my lungs, however, my belief in my longterm health and wellness is not comparable to anytime in my past. There are many areas to contribute where these positive feelings derive from, and at the top end of my list would be the range of motivational videos being watched on a daily basis. The positive feelings and lasting thoughts anchored into my consciousness are the very reason for deciding to dedicate an entire wall in my room to motivational quotes and pictures. I am currently in the process of collating images and will show updates throughout the stages of development.

Why I travel…

19th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

Yesterday, a moment occurred that will be forever remembered. The location of the moment was at a surfspot I have recently being surfing. The waves at the place break over shallow, sharp reef, and yesterday the size of surf significantly increased. A complexity is associated with the place due to the fear associated with falling into the sharp reef. I should note at this point a pivotal factor coming to surface on reflection. I have had the mentality throughout the trip of solely wanting things from the ocean. The entry will hopefully portray the understanding learned from the experience whilst also showing an overwhelming respect to the ocean.

So, a friend and I were intending on surfing together. Upon arriving at the place we saw the actual size of the larger waves running down the reef. It was an extremely low tide so we had to walk approximately 100 meters on the reef before attempting to challenge the ocean. My fried successfully managed to make his way out to the waves whilst I remained stuck on the reef throwing my board into the sky attempting to litigate the potential risks of the oncoming balls of fury breaking directly in front of me. Three consecutive waves rolled me along the reef, resulting in my sensing a message was being delivered about an imminent dangers should I continue. There definitely would have been a time when I would have reflected on this experience as a moment of weakness, however, my acceptance and submission lead me to respect the ocean whilst also allowing other opportunities to surface.

The outcomes of being rolled along the reef by three waves resulted in me drifting approximately 150 around the cliff. I noticed a patch of sand was exposed by the low tide forming a little bay, and I felt an overwhelming connection with the world around me. It seemed my fate was to submit to the ocean. Therefore, I decided to turn around to commence the journey back to the shore. Whilst paddling, I felt drawn to the exposed bay, and again felt I needed to follow my instincts. Once standing on the bay, I rested my board in some shade, and completed a powerful and emotive yoga session. I was surprised at how deep into the practice I became, and felt the three waves served the purpose of getting me to find strength in accepting my defeat. I fully acknowledge the criticism by some at the content, however, I can honestly say it is an accurate account of what I was experiencing at the time, and still believe the events are to hold some meaning in my life.

How to achieve stillness and find peace in face of adversity

4th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I am wanting to write a brief entry to remind me at later times of the complete stillness held within my current thought process. I contribute the obtainment of the present state of mind to the idea of compartmentalising certain thoughts in my life to particular periods in the day. Obviously, the main chain of thoughts causing potential damaging chatter to intrude my consciousness derives from the fear gripping me. The process of compartmentalising thoughts allows me to feel the fear whilst blocking it from taking over my life. Consequently, I then can remain focused on the hope and belief in being-well, and it appears the strategy of directing attention to health and life is more effective than directing all my thinking towards Cancer. My situation may fluctuate, and I need to accept this, however, hopefully this short entry can trigger some of the memories and emotions associated with this period whilst acting as a reminder of how peaceful life can be.

Exercise… How to stay motivated, prevent injuries and achieve the goals you want!

22nd March 2015: Sydney, Australia

The week of rest scheduled into my life will cease with all usual activity commencing tomorrow. The purpose of scheduling rest into my life is mostly associated with optimising my physical capacities, namely reducing the chance of injury; maintenance of the immune system to prevent temporary illness; psychological benefits from having a break, and the opportunity to implement a varied range of movement to eliminate stagnation. Ideally, I am looking at scheduling rest approximately every 10-12 weeks, and during the week, the idea is to completely remove movement from my life. Instead, introduce a routine of activity that still keeps the body moving, yet, is much less intensive. For instance, over the past week I completed three yin/restorative yoga sessions, two gentle swims and an extremely modified version of my usual exercise routine.

I have noticed rapid changes in my weight and physique. No evidence supports the supposed changes, however, I did feel a lot slimmer and less defined over the week, possibly leading me to complete the second swim, an activity not planned into my week. In regards to the outcome, there is a noticeable shift in my mind-state to once again work on building strength and regaining the remaining lost weight. Furthermore, the break has allowed the creation of a tailored plan to be implemented when exercising whilst also refreshing the motivation to strive towards the very initial affirmations made when informed of my diagnosis. Therefore, it appears the concept was successful. The results will be shown over the coming weeks when a more intense schedule re-commences.

Why the hair?

11th February 2014: Sydney Australia

A year of my recovery has been visually tracked. Honestly, I would have envisioned a more pronounced transformation, particularly in regards to further muscle definition, however, in saying that, I recognise some degree of strength was regained when looking at my body as a whole. Other notable differences include the healing of the scar, differing in colour as my recovery progressed and the continued difficulty with my alignment. In addition, the ridiculous facial hair is hard not to observe. There are some aspects to dissect when reflecting on all points mentioned above, even including the hair!

Firstly, I am happy with the scarring, with apparent improvements shown in the last half of the year, especially bearing in mind no oils were used. My colouring is seen to resemble the progression of my continual health, particularly when making a comparison from the first picture to the one taken today. My alignment is another area to discuss. A fracture of my right collarbone when I was 20, followed by a lack of rehabilitation resulted in my body already skewed, with my feet evidence of the continued work still required, however, it seems yoga and strengthening exercises are all working to rectify this. Lastly, the hair. Both the beard and general length of my locks can be discussed.

The significance of my hair predates any sign of illness by approximately six months, starting at a period prior to a job interview. The job was internal, thus, a familiarity existed with the panel members. My thought process was that a haircut was needed to show a commitment to a senior role whilst hopefully indirectly influencing the decision of the panel members. I didn’t have the haircut or obtain the position, so thought to continue growing my hair. The next job opportunity arose approximately five months later, and again I didn’t get a haircut. A difference existed this time, and didn’t relate entirely to a correlation between a job and haircut. Instead, I held a belief of a haircut providing a temporary sense of bliss, and the bout of illness I was suffering didn’t feel like a short lived solution was required. Therefore, I would only arrange a haircut once I regained full-health. The story unfolds with me being successful in the position, however, my health deteriorates to the point of discovering the illness I had was Cancer. Now, on chemotherapy, I am still yet to see myself as completely healthy, so am committed to upholding my pact of not cutting my hair till I am no longer receiving treatment. I acknowledge it may seem absurd, yet a level of strength is gained from this story, especially in regards to how my hair is so untypical of the stereotypical image of an individual receiving chemotherapy, and this very elementary piece of my story elicits a sense of uniqueness, a factor, if looking at the statistics for survival is essential in my life.

I wish to relive the feeling of being Wolverine….

image

30th December 2014: Sydney

I am currently waiting for pictures taken from the MRI scan just completed, and passing aside the hunger due to fasting I am actually feeling fairly relaxed. Whilst lying in the tiny compounds, listening to a voice instructing me when to breathe, I noticed that the noises and discomfort associated with the scan do not lead to any irritation, rather the overall process is relaxing whereby my eyes close for approximately 45 minutes, completely focusing internally on my bodily functions. Also, the mechanisms of the process evoke my imagination to circulate images of Wolverine from X-Men whereby my body is in the process of rebuilding to a place previously unforeseen. Obviously, this view contrast popular opinion about the MRI symbolising a weakness or deficit, a typical correlation to such circumstances. It could easily be seen as a delusion, and it may well be justifiable to share this opinion, however, the importance of a source of inspiration, regardless of how believable it is, seems essential to the continual recreation of a positive narrative about my life and the direction I am heading.

The surrealism involved in using the unrealistic image of a character such as Wolverine may be an unconscious tactic used to handle the overall environment of this hospital. Numerous times I have noted the annoyance and frustration experienced with the hospital, more specifically the pharmacy department. The feelings stem from the incompetence and rudeness that seems to govern this particular section of the hospital. It is not uncommon to switch from a positive mindset into one filled with negativity and anger. At present the writing is a true portrayal of the transformation in my thinking. Initially, I was envisioning a Wolverine version of myself undergoing testing to determine strength and longevity, and now whilst sitting in an overcrowded room I am fantasying about my death. In addition, I am cooling down from a slight outburst at the repeated response when attempting to obtain my medication. I have encountered rudeness and total incompetence each time I have visited this section, and today after knowing my supplies had arrived I was again faced with the response “oh, I don’t think we have that”. My response, admittedly completely inappropriate was “fucking c#*ts”. As noted, I am aware this is completely unacceptable, and doesn’t make it any better that it wasn’t directed at him as people were waiting behind me. I could attempt to provide reasoning for the statement, however, I need to take responsibility for my actions, noting the unacceptability of my behaviour.

I also acknowledge further explanation is required on the previous statement made about the fantasy of death. Firstly, the reasoning for the phrase fantasy? A rather strange choice of words as it would imply a desire to achieve such an outcome, and the thoughts circulating throughout my mind would suggest my death was a desired outcome. Obviously, this is far from the case, and it’s just a very negative thought pattern allowed to spread like a fire blazing throughout bushland on a hot summer day, however, similar to a building wind engulfing the flames of a fire the whole environment was intensifying this chain of thought. It consisted of me being told the Cancer had reoccurred and my response was to not opt for surgery or further treatment and instead fight the growth via alternate methods, involving a bucket list type of possibilities that ultimately were not successful, and resulted in my death. All details were not mapped out, however, the concept of a funeral was. My idea was to hold a celebration, not advising people what is was about and putting on an excellent night for all. The result would be me delivering a speech to others about what I am grateful for, and my idea to search for alternative ways to treat my situation, hence, this opportunity may be the last time I see everyone in the room. It all sounds very dramatic writing about it now, and may not be the best way to proceed, however, it is a perfect example of a self-destructive chain of thoughts that could be the dominant pattern if a different mindset and narrative were not instilled in my thinking. Lastly, I wish to relive the feeling of being Wolverine, so some exercise will be completed immediately after leaving here to clear my mind whilst having the knowledge of being in the right frame of mind to equip myself for my future.

What is your personal narrative?

18th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

The last day of work tomorrow singals the closure of almost four years of my adult life. Interestingly, a reflection on the time is telling about the person who walked into the position and who I am now. Similar to all, changes were bound to happen when exposed to other cultures, home comforts were stripped away leaving me to test myself in a new city, and a transfer into my thirties was undertaken with a different partner to the one featuring throughout most of my twenties. The relevance of Cancer to this? Well for arguments sake, completely nothing! The very process of ageing and living in a different country thousands of miles away from family and friends will usually lead to some degree of change. In contrast, the experience of having Cancer changes almost everything, and the closure of this part of my life seems to be of greater magnitude, especially in regards to my work whereby the Cancer appeared to have touched many of my friends and colleagues.

Although a generalisation, work usually occupies five out off seven days. Personally, it was another area where the internal changes occurring within my life were clearly evident. From the sudden departure to returning with varied workings hours and drastic reductions in after work activity all cemented the world of change that now existed in my life. In regards to the context of change, I am referring to both internal and external factors. My adopted lifestyle choices and overall outlook are based on my created principles to achieve a healthy life, however, externally, the shock and weight of a Cancer diagnosis can lead to a changed perception of you by others. To many, a diagnosis of Cancer typically correlates with a spoken or whispered statement, such as, ‘oh the poor thing’ or ‘how terrible’. It is acknowledged that this isn’t always the case, and it is not at all a criticism. I simply view it as a common response from others about Cancer. My position is to see how this narrative can be used to reshape my the experience, and the attempts being made are to follow my plan to achieve a greater level of success in all areas of my life.

Regardless of the content, a narrative or story exists for all of us. Within the working enviornment, I may have once been the Australian with the curly hair or something completely unknown to me. I am curious as to whether that picture remains, or if my story has now been amended to include the obvious. I placed significant emphasis on my future personal narrative from the very moment of being wheeled out of the hospital ward to give my family a thumbs up to signal ‘I’m ok’. I feel the creation of a positive narrative builds the foundation for others to share in the story, and consequently lead to a reinforced belief in a strength and capacity in achieving longterm health and well-being. I’m unsure of the pictures held in the minds of many, however, I am certain that story would have changed over the past year.