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.
7th November 2015: Sydney, Australia
Personal development is all about progression in any identified area in your life. Typically, the process of establishing goals is seen as an essential step towards achieving your goals. Now, bearing this in mind, I am curious as to whether my recent chain of thoughts have been misdirected. Basically, the entirety of my focus was to remain alive. If we were to break down the meaning of that goal, I think it is actually a rather harmful state of mind. It is not like I am scrapping for food, in need of shelter or avoiding danger. Really, my goals seem to reflect an underlying vulnerability. A superior approach would have been to be more specific. For instance, what do I want from my ideas/career, how do I want relationships in my life to look, what type of lifestyle am I seeking, how do I want to be progressing in my physical/emotional rehabilitation, and what do I want to be fuelling my body with. On reflection, my goals were once structured in such a way with timeframes underpinning each goal, however, I allowed myself to drift into the abyss of confusion and uncertainty. Ultimately, placing me back to a state of mind not conducive to really make the intended changes in my life.
8th October 2015: Sydney Australia
I like to think my narrative has shifted from the person with Cancer, however, constantly situations surface within my week, reinforcing the presence of this narrative in my life. I wonder when, and if I get to the stage whereby the story just becomes a feature of my past?
Alternatively, could the idea of multiple stories exist simultaneously in my life? A life where the Cancer story will ultimately always exist in the eyes of some people, however, others will see through this label, and share in the story I hold about myself.
31st August 2015: Sydney, Australia
Obviously, a degree of happiness was bound to occur when surrounded by close friends and family when drawn together to celebrate, however, a heighten level of elation is felt when thinking about the entirety of the Saturday night. On reflection, I can honestly say the experience makes me inclined to believe I recently attended my own funeral. There was a particular point, involving approximately 15 close friends who were all standing in a small circle. Typically, such a scenario would involve testosterone charged banter exchanged to one another. A difference was in the air though. All in attendance were completely engaged in the random impromptu speeches being made about me. It was a fairly moving personal encounter, and was further evidence of the amazing support I have in my life. It was actually rather surreal when I had to listen to the words said by a number of people close to me, a situation only really seen at a funeral or wake. I am unable to fully recall all the comments, however, definitely have certain memories imprinted in my mind, and plan on integrating the stories into my evolving self-narrative. I should also note my wishes of hoping the speeches actually symbolise a death has occurred, namely, a complete extinction of any Cancerous cells, allowing me to again live freely.
31st July 2015: Sydney, Australia
One point I wish to make clear is the absolute truth in what is to follow, and if there are any doubts, records can be provided to support what I am about to say. I feel the disclaimer is essential, especially when bearing in mind how I have personally processed the information.
Yesterday, I went to the hospital to get a procedure called, Microwave Ablation completed on my left lung, and as previously noted, the procedure intended to eliminate the last remaining Cancer in my body. The story unfolds in the typical way with a nurse calling me into surgery, however, a massive twist shortly followed, leaving my mum absolutely over joyed with elation whilst I was stuck in a state of disbelief. The reasoning behind the reactions results from the doctor coming to advise me that surgery was not required due to the scan taken from two days ago showed the Cancer was no longer present. I had difficulty comprehending the information received, firing off a number of questions, and simply found out there is no medical explanation. The fact of the matter is five weeks ago a scan showed a small Cancer on my left lung whilst the most recent scan showed the Cancer was no longer present. As noted, I was completely perplexed upon hearing, and later processing the information. Fortunately, I also met with the Professor overseeing the entire procedure who confirmed the same information, adding the same multi-disciplinary team who reviewed the latest scans were in the meeting when seeing the latest results. Again, a range of questions were asked, and the response of the a Professor seems to speak volumes, he simply spread his arms open saying there is no explanation, and it is excellent news. So, to conclude, I have a full CT scan in six weeks, am now writing this entry on the balcony of my home with the knowledge of being Cancer free 🙂
23rd July 2015: Sydney, Australia
I surfaced from the comfort of my own bed knowing the morning routine of blood sampling, scaling questions and the overload of information were not to follow. Instead, I peacefully rested in bed, feeling happy with my situation whilst firmly focusing on just resting throughout the next few weeks.
I need to stay content with the concept of rest, and although it may sound moronic at such a stage within my recovery, I know attention on the matter is required to ensure rest plays a dominant role in my life over the coming weeks. Failure to focus on rest will only make me curious about integrating a degree of exercise into my life, and the consequences of completing any exercise at this stage would be ridiculous. Furthermore, there is no way my body is in a position to exercise so any thought directed to the area is extremely moronic. The motivation to start moving again stems from the personal beleif of exercise keeping me focused in life whilst providing obvious physical and mental advantages. Therefore, it is really simple, should I wish to once again feel I am progressing in my life, then I need to see the stage of rest as important as actually completing any exercsie.
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.
16th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia
Management of Cancer was a key point discussed at the last appointment with my doctor. The very concept has a direct connection to the reality of having Cancer for the rest of my life whilst placing speculation around the actual amount of more years ahead. If true, my focus needs to shift from an acceptance of the feelings associated when placed in a state of prolonged uncertainty to accepting a Cancer will remain inside me till I pass away. Undoubtedly, the question now looms as to whether I will accept this new reality. Well, it is simple. No fucking way!
I will not succumb to just accepting defeat. Instead, I will draw on all the learning from the first time, and ensure my capacity is at the optimum state to overcome the current predicament. I plan to use the content from the programme I designed to review a number of key areas in my life, including the way I communicate with medical staff. Most notably, I will now the focus on living, opposed to engrossing myself in research papers or becoming dragged down by statistics or percentages about my chance of survival. Lastly, a wide range of alternate avenues will be explored to promote my wellness. A whole other post will be required to give clarity on the latter remark.
7th May 2015: Sydney, Australia
The approaching time away in Indonesia will see a change of climate, with daily temperatures approximately 30 degrees. A point, definitely eliciting a feeling of happiness when considering I will miss most most of the winter here in Sydney. Interestingly, it seems my infatuation with the need for more sunshine stemmed from the fairly lengthy spell in the UK, and it it possibly intensified by reading about the benefits of receiving a regular dose of natural Vitamin D. In addition, the fact of me currently not working results in having more time to pay attention to the environment around me. Therefore, noticeable difference in aspects of the environment, including the amount of sunshine are observed.
Another factor associated with not currently working relates to the current pace of time, and although I am happy, content and attempting to cherish the present. I would lying if I didn’t feel excitement about the prospect of heading to Indonesia, coming off my medication or commence working again. Always whilst on the topic of timeframes, a specific reference comes to mind. It was made by a holocaust survivor whom stated that his life today resulted from a belief of being ok, however, never allowing hope in regards to certain timeframes of a release to be the focus of his thoughts. The person in discussion saw others firmly focused on being released at certain times, and consequently became further deflated and even lead to death upon discovering their time in Auschwitz would not come to their desired end date. Interestingly, the words will remain with me forever, yet, I am unable to implement the advice into my own life.
11th October 2014: Sydney, Australia
I have been considering the appointment had with my doctor last week. In relation to preparing for each appointment, I am unable to shift my thinking from the discrepancy existing between the recommended timeframes regarding my treatment. The doctors from the UK are saying an absolute minimum of five years, however, my doctor in Australia initially stated it will be two years, and now is saying a two year period is a sufficient time for it to be reviewed. A greater level of belief is felt in the direction outlined by my Australian doctor. The matter is solely due to his frankness about the limited knowledge about treating this rare from of cancer and the very real possibility that we are actually poisoning my body with this treatment. Thus, a review of my quality of life on the medication compared to the risks of stopping the medication is necessary. Attention is required on not locking myself into a mindset of possible timeframes, and to note, it is an extremely difficult task. The reasoning is that regardless of the timeframe, lifelong sustainable changes are required to maintain overall health and wellness. Personally, I believe my journey has a long and eventful future story. Therefore, all the modifications to my lifestyle need to be thought through via a sustainable lens. In addition, I need to enjoy the changes rather than see them as a hindrance to living a quality life.
In relation to my statement about the importance of lifelong sustainable changes being made in my life, I do acknowledge this attitude may shift as time passes, especially with the biological, technological, social and environmental changes that are bound to encompass me. Furthermore, when the tests remain clear, a decreased level of risk of reoccurrence is sure to be reality. The question to be posed relates to whether my behaviour and thinking needs to revert back to past patterns or can it further develop from the foundations created throughout this phase of my life? The matter of complacency seems so relevant. It is inevitable that my life, and the life of everyone in this world will evolve. It appears an open circular system of input, processing and action is the driving force of this personal evolution. The point made is that everyone changes to some degree. On a more specific note with relevance to the matter of changes resulting from my Cancer, the description of the circular system attempts to help people understand that the influences surrounding them hugely impacts their thinking and behaviours. It would appear a fairly blatant concept, and to really portray it’s meaning, the changes can be linked with anything in life whereby goals have been set then not followed through. Numerous factors will be the reasoning for us not achieving all our goals or dreams, however, avoiding complacency whilst maintaining motivation is crucial to furthering self-development. Therefore, a return to the circular system highlights the value in a continuation towards immersing myself with positive, stimulating and exciting aspects in life. Ultimately, the result will be an expansion of the already existing foundations that Cancer has helped shape rather than allowing complacency to creep back into everyday routines.