Why why why!

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.

How to reduce time of recovery period

27th July 2015: Sydney, Australia

An undeniable disparity exists between the time taken to obtain the current level of mobility compared to the period post-surgery 18 months ago. I strongly believe the difference contributes to the maintenance of my overall health since making changes to my lifestyle. I recognise many may disagree, citing a belief that a second procedure on the same area on the body is less demanding. Admittedly, I can the logic in this stave, however, will stand firmly in believing the major changes derive from the mindset created leading up to the surgery, compounded by a reduction in stress surrounding the entire process. In addition, the focus placed on nutrition and movement over the past year has surely placed my body in the very best position to heal and recover in such a short period of time.

The factors mentioned above reinforce the need to invest further on varying aspects within my life, including an emphasis on fuelling my body wholly with real food. I must note that again I will not subscribe to any diet. Instead, the belief of promoting my health through eating whist placing the least amount of stress on my body will be continued.

For those interested, please message for details of a typical approach to food adopted on a daily basis for those interested.

We all want a timeframe, the question is though.. Are they actually harmful?

17th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I believe I will now finally adhere to never focusing on timeframes in terms of my recovery. It was a point heard very early in my Cancer experience, and continually I have failed to apply the term within my life. Consequently, low periods surfaced when a timeframe was not met, and as a result it felt like the foundation of my belief system slightly crumbled with each disappointment. Numerous examples in regards to the topic of timeframes can be drawn upon, and recently, my time in hospital has reinforced the need to not think of timeframes.

I was meant to leave hospital on Saturday with all three procedures complete. I was then informed the departure date would be two days ago plus an additional admission was required, and now I won’t be out till Tuesday (at earliest). Although it is a small matter, it is another example of delays and possible disappointment. I was literally five minutes away from having the needed procedure that was the reason for keeping me here till Tuesday, and I was just informed the surgical team did not read the notes provided by the Endocrine team regarding the levels of Cortisol essential for the procedure. So, now it has been delayed till the appropriate levels are administered intravenously. Obviously, major differences exist between a slight delay and other more important areas in my life. Plus, I am possibly overreacting, however, it has again made me consider the very poignant point first exposed to at the beginning of my Cancer experience.

How to remain focused on my goals..

8th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

I view attention to rest as concrete evidence of the dawning of a new reality present in my life, particularly when bearing in mind the area was overlooked prior to being forced by the discovery of Cancer to review my behaviour and actions. A key point to highlight from the entirety of this Cancer journey is the opportunity to fully focus on myself, including the scheduling of rest into my life whilst also not allowing a stance to be adopted whereby the period is viewed with pity, regretfulness and loss. Admittedly, ample entires document the varying thoughts circulating throughout my mind, some far from positive, however, the fluctuating thoughts appear essential to create a narrative about the experiences I continually face.

Personally, the whole situation needs to be looked at with perspective, and most importantly, it is imperative to create new scripts to block old patterns from rearing a presence in my life again. I acknowledge many more challenges await, and similar to any other person, the obstacle for me entails remaining focused, driven and motivated on my goals. A factor holding more weight when the rigours and demands of everyday life demand greater attention. To conclude, I must say, with all the feelings and emotions attached to the circumstances endured, I would deem myself to be relatively happy. Therefore, my motivation, focus and drive needs to centre upon achieving greater happiness in all areas of my life, completely unrestricted by any diagnosis, fears or factors associated with having Cancer.

Drama, over-reaction and a whole heap of stress!!

6th March 2015: Sydney, Australia

I write this in a Endone haze, en-route to the dentist. At 5am last night, I woke to a throbbing agony coming from my mouth. I was only able to endure roughly five minutes of pain prior to taking 5ml of an opiate based medicine called Endone. Another five minutes past before a consecutive tablet was consumed. Subconsciously, I think a comparison to the last time I woke in agony from my sleep triggered the decision to take the tablets, and I honestly believe the pain-relief has eased some anxiety linked to a fear of whether the pain is a new Cancer. In addition, the decision acted in accordance with the recommendation of the Anaesthetist when last in hospital whereby I was informed it was better to get on top of the pain before it escalates rather than waiting till it gets stronger.

On reflection, my response this morning was probably over dramatic, causing unnecessary stress for my parents, and situations as such are still an area I am yet to conquer. In typical circumstances an ache from my mouth would have been associated with a need for dental appointment, and when taking the time to sit back to analyse the situation, it seems probable of this outcome proving to be accurate. The difficultly is the slight niggle of wondering whether it is Cancer related. Therefore, a sequence of highly rushed events follow, leaving a trail of destruction around me, including panic, stress and associated expenses. If one point was to be highlighted it would be a vulnerability evident in my life, and it appears at these certain times, a crack in my armour can easily be be made, resulting in an over-reaction. As mentioned, it is an area I am yet to conquer, and very similar to the incident whereby I called the ambulance due to the blood coming out of my mouth whilst brushing my teeth. There is an irony of the paradox existing in the attempt to support others implement a plan in their lives for similar moments, yet, it is the very area I am yet to have confidence in applying myself.

I am hopeful it is just an ache associated with my teeth, and a massive over-reaction, however, it reinforces a number of keys points. Most notably, my reliance on the support from parents; the immediate seeking of attention from the Professor overseeing my care for advise when struck with a cause of concern; the negative effects of Endone after consuming the tablets, and the reality of the Cancer experience still heavily effecting my life. The positive to draw from these points is the fact that the Sunflower Framework covers all these topics, and although I am aware no script for all people can be devised, it seems probable others would experience similar concerns. Therefore, a strength in the content seems to shine, and hopefully an opportunity is provided for a pilot to be operated over the coming year to truly test the benefits for other people with Cancer.

An activity designed to help others manage stressors in their lives

1st March 2015: Sydney, Australia

An ever constant doubt about the relationships in my life, future job prospects and my overall identity have resulted in the formation of a concept to help switch my mind into a mode whereby change is possible. A need to support my thinking resulted from an increasing amount of stress placed on my mind and body from the factors mentioned above. The idea is fairly basic, with the foundations based on a strategy where mental imagery is used in coordination with a directed focus of giving sufficient space to matters of importance so they can be processed rather than blocked into my subconscious. Application of the concept is relevant to the emotions involved in breaking up with my ex-girlfriend whilst also playing a role in managing the feelings associated in response to the knowledge of living on Chemotherapy due to the removal of the Cancerous tumour growing inside me.

A description of the concept entails centring upon the matter causing stress, then mental imagery is used to create a visualisation of my hands letting go of balloons as a means of signifying the release of the stress from my mind and body. I have found an increased size of balloon correlates directly with a greater intensity of thoughts. Furthermore, the idea has also expanded at peak periods whereby I need to actually physically open and release my hand to replicate a bunch of balloons flying away from my hands. Interestingly, the created image was not planned in advance. Rather, the use of balloons came to my consciousness whilst attempting to find acceptance in both situations and was seen to be a fitting image, especially with the symbolism connected to letting a bunch of balloons release from your hands. To conclude, I must add there is no research to support the proposed strategy, and it may not be useful for all, however, it has proved useful for circumstances, so I wished to share it with others.

A walk down memory lane..

17th January 2015: Sydney, Australia

I had thought attention on my Cancer has been decreasing over time, and had hoped for this to continue throughout the many more prosperous years to follow. I still don’t think an example today needs to shift my future course, however, an event to possibly reconsider the situation in terms of the impact rather than the attention. A conversation with my mum yesterday brought me to this position. For the first time, my mum provided details of her feelings during the three days after receiving the phone call when I informed them that I had a tumour. On a personal level, I was happy in revisiting some of the decisions made, including the avoidance of going to full details with my parents over the phone, namely in relation to the size of the tumour. One specific moment was the initial contact made when holding a conversation with my dad, and to note, I knew the tumour was approximately 15cm, and was thought to be Cancerous. Parts of the conversation entailed:
Dad: Well how big is it?
Me: Pretty big
Dad: A grape?
Me: bigger
Dad: Orange?
Me: bigger
Dad: Grapefruit
Me: Yeah about that, it’s pretty big

Now, some may argue honesty was needed, however, I completely disagree. The main points were conveyed, namely, I had a Cancer, and secondly, it was fairly large. In addition, plans were exchanged about my care and when results would be available. The interesting and upsetting information for me was what followed. Mum said that Dad went to the city the next day and cried the whole day, then the following day, both mum and dad followed the same route as the day previous, yet this time they were both crying. For me, that right there is evidence of the impact of Cancer!

I also feel a chain of events directly caused by that conversation unfolded throughout the weeks and months to follow. Similar to any grieving process, evident negative events seemed to surface, and in this instance, an increase in stress and worry compounded by the drinking of alcohol seemed to have featured within the family home. I am not at all meaning to highlight the negative points. Simply, describe some of secondary factors associated with Cancer. On a positive note, the support that continues to be accessible seems unmatched, and the very factors in life that are invaluable and forever remembered. It must be noted that the focus are all internal descriptions, and I wonder what factors will be remembered and live on for my parents. I imagine, our memories will greatly vary!

Is equal attention placed on stress compared to other areas in my life?

2nd December 2014: Sydney

The first point registered when sitting down to write was a reflection about a comment from the last week regarding the tone of entries seemingly overly negative. I have to question what was previously stated, adding the negativity is likely to derive from the extra motivation to write when not feeling the best, partly due to the process of writing relieving some of those feelings. In addition, it allows me to pour out the thoughts associated with my experiences. Therefore, thinking that I am always negative may be a misrepresentation of how as a whole I am actually feeling. Furthermore, my decision to write must be considered as I wish to avoid feeling like a constant burden on others or worse, the stem of their pain.

A point I find interesting, coming from a position without any medical knowledge is how completing similar tasks throughout a day can lead me to polar opposite places. For instance, my nutrition, level of rest or movement hasn’t changed today, and I know there are various other factors to be considered, including the sunshine, the happiness in my relationship and the satisfaction felt in completing my project. In addition, the reality of just periodically feeling unwell must not be overlooked. Finally, the elimination of stress is a point widely seen in literature relating to the necessary points in overcoming Cancer. I do need to measure whether sufficient or equal attention is placed on this area compared with what I deem to be my other core principles (or petals in my framework).

My Super Bowl

6th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Yesterday was grand final day for the sport of Rugby League, a day my friends and I referred to in the past as a second Christmas Day. Maybe best comparable to Super Bowl day in the states or a World Cup final for football nations. Regardless of whether others share my passion for the game, it won’t often influence the positive feeling associated with this time as people typically get together for a BBQ, be it for the match or the long weekend and meet with family or friends, heading away for a weekend escape or choose to spend time at the beach/park/pool to celebrate the extra day without work. This year was to be both special and unusual for me, I had just returned to Australia after four years away, yet, a lot of changes were anticipated to how the occasion would unfold, particularly as the day was being hosted at my house.

When looking back, it can be seen as another learning curve in my journey. Similar to a lot of aspects of my life, it was no easy ride. Feeling of elations were intertwined with disappointment. The sun was burning, fun waves were to be had whilst surfing in the morning, a group of friends and family were getting together to feast over the food prepared. Feelings of disappointment surfaced came from the very moment of waking up, the culprit being the sore throat whom was again sending a strong reminder of it’s presence. My first thoughts were directed to the frustration at my slow recovery rather than the excellent times spent with my nephews the day before. Next, I became nauseous whilst surfing, taking away from the experience of enjoying the 32 degree weather whilst surfing fun waves. Such a combination is normally a remedy for everything! The day was starting to get away from me and the feelings of nausea lead to a fatigue, thus, it was decided to not pursue the plan of integrating yoga into my day and opt for some rest, food and an early dose of medication. I get the feeling all this can seen a little over dramatic, however, context is needed to look at the past feelings associated with the day and then the realisation of the changes for me.

Remarkably, a quick meditation whilst the artificial cortisol (medication) flowed through my body lead me to feeling much better. From that point on, I can’t recall a moment when not feeling unwell or unsettled, and had an amazing day surrounded by friends and family, plus was more than pleased with my ease and comfort at just occasionally sipping on two ciders throughout the duration of the eight hours. A duration of socialising I have definitely not been able to enjoy since the beginning of the year. So the learning from it? I firmly believe everything I face is trial and error. Some options may not work whilst others, like magic make me feel good, and are then seen to feature within my future thinking. The answer to why I started to feel better could simply be attached to the medication. A decision to ignore this pivotal point would be overlooking the mechanisms of the human body, however, looking at the day in greater depth would show the significance of many other factors contributing to sustained positive feelings. In advance, I had taken any stress out of the day by planning for healthy food to be served throughout the day, had support from my parents in setting everything up and the experience was shared by a circle of friends and family, including the visit of my little nephews whom always make me happy. An analysis of the situation would show I controlled my environment, was connected with family and friends, created an atmosphere whereby everyone was understanding of my needs with no pressure on me, was complying with medication, healthy food options were aplenty and in regards to mindfulness, the day finished with a meditation before drifting into a deep slumber. Evidence again of the principles enabling me to find a place for the Cancer, one whereby I am still able to enjoy my life.

Home

25th September 2014: Sydney, Australia

I’m home! What an exhausting few days. Work came to a close, all my goods were packed and shipped, the emotions in leaving my girlfriend plus managing the fiasco surrounding the excess luggage at the airport left me feeling physically drained. The 26 hours of transit time, including the 20 hour period in air conditioned planes hasn’t helped. Consequently, all the factors combined to leave me with a few hundred dollars missing from account and the emergence of a past enemy who has not had the courage to be seen this year. An enemy with a proven capacity to lay dormant before showing it’s dominant self in in times of stress. An enemy when surfacing sends immediate caution throughout my mind due to the company it kept last time we encountered in November/December of last year.

Reference was made yesterday about a lowed immune system, and some clarity is required on the passage above. The enemy in mention is a sore throat. Previous to last year, a sore throat was simply the single defining point telling me that I was needing rest. It could be a day, week or more, however, at the end of last year it signalled something much more imminent, and it brought along a damp, rotten, unhygienic associate who lived by night to cause restless sleep. A coincidence it may be, yet, caution is required as it is the first time this year I have had a sore throat and night sweats. Two major signals regularly on display last year.
Only looking at these two symptoms as reasons for caution instills a fear that is needing to be subdued, particularly now given the chance as back at home, not working and having the time and space to direct my full focus towards my health and well-being. In addition, I have recently endured a fair amount of stress, a known player in the Cancer game. So a modified strategy is required. The planned consultation with a chiropractor should provide some assistance, however, I have come to realise that greater attention is required focusing on the capacity of my mind to both heal and protect me. Therefore, modifications of my strategy will include emphasis on my sources of nutrition, level of movement and how I am resting.

I’ve noted previously that I believe a healthy approach to nutrition is followed at most times. I prefer to use the word approach, rather than diet, as the word diet has a connotation to a short-term fad, whereas an approach can, and should be viewed as a life-long sustainable way of fuelling your body with nutrients. So if I feel a healthy intake of food is already happening then what should be modified? Yes, those carbohydrates high in a GI index can be cut out, more raw foods can be added to my meals and the plate can be greener, however, is that all? Well, I recall reading and listening to podcasts whereby the benefits of a detox or a fast were explained. Yes, a tad hypocritical as it may be deemed a short-term measure, however, it is something I have been interested in, and a book by Jessica Ainscough (the wellness warrior) further attracted my interest. Like others, the book details the positive effects a detox or fast can have on your body so the warning signals, i.e. sore throat and night sweats have placed me in a position where I am motivated to research the necessary sources, enabling me to make an informed decision about whether a detox or fast is required and if it is likely to be beneficial for my body.
It could possibly be another alternate means to support my recovery or be of no significance, however, when measuring the benefits in comparison with the detrimental effects of a possible two day fast or detox, it seems little more discussion is needed. Time to start researching and look at a possible starting time of next week.