When tears symbolise hope

16th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

The tears have not been able to stop. At almost every moment, I just break out into tears, and find it hard to control myself. It seemed a climaxed whilst seeing my mum last night, becoming an absolute wreck. Both my brothers and dad were obviously upset, yet, holding themselves well, and there I am next to her bed, sobbing while holding her hand.

I have thought about the reasons for crying, and keep coming back to a level of guilt associated with the stressors I have placed on her whilst also thinking I may be crying for both of us. I know this sounds odd, however, my mum did not allow herself to cry throughout the past 20 months, and I feel my outburst of emotion reflects the pain she held in while also symbolising the commencement of the healing process for both my mum and I.

Please, just stop!

23rd April 2015: Sydney

No no no no no! I have tried my meditation and breathing exercises to no avail. It is now past midnight, and I just wished for it all stop. My stomach is cramping, rumbling and making me feel inclined to take up residence adjacent to the toilet. Attempts at reassuring myself via use of my past strategies have been unsuccessful, I simply can’t get the thought out of my head that it has come back! The effort needed in writing this is simply too much. I am scared, and am needing sleep to wake up with a fresh mind to put everything in perspective. It seems the darkness of the night combined with being alone brings me back to my childhood days of being afraid in the middle of the night. A definite case of the night terrors! I know this goes against what I advocate for, however, I have taken a pain killer to settle myself into a relaxed state whereby I will hopefully be able to do some visualisation exercises before drifting off to sleep.

Another mask to wear, this time it is was to hide the tears.

27th March 2015: Sydney, Australia

An appointment with my Professor two days ago resulted in an overwhelming feeling of normality sweeping throughout my mind and body. In extremely untypical circumstances, I had to hold myself together, ensuring my tears remained dormant for another day. Discussion on the very matter of holding back my years is whole another entry in itself, and on reflection, the reasoning for restricting my emotions is due in part to the facade deemed essential in showing a strength to the outside world whilst also attempting to decrease the emotional load on my mum who was present. It must be noted that my main concern regarding this entire process is the impact on my loved ones, especially my mum. Therefore, the point of having a facade is ironic as the main point from the appointment was summarised in the words of my Professor when stating he couldn’t see my trajectory being any better, and instead of showing joy, an outpouring of emotional overcame me. An experience in a medical setting comparable to the very first appointment when I was informed my life expectancy was no greater than six months should surgery not be opted for. Possibly, the simple reasoning derives from the reality of light at the end of tunnel approaching. Maybe a point worthy of tears.

Goodbye London!

24th January 2015: Sydney

This time last year I would be sleeping in my bed for the last time before packing up my life in London. I vividly recall the moments of the entirety of events fairly vivid. I was advised on a Thursday in a meeting after approximately two weeks later testing that it was very probable the large tumour inside of me was cancerous. As noted in past entires, this message in no way hit me as hard as initially discovering a tumour was growing inside me. The moment was actually rather jovial, with complete focus on recovery, and I sense of knowing I would be ok. Possibly my approach to everything over the past year can be linked back to this meeting. After the meeting I remember thinking, “why am I not crying, I have just been told I have Cancer”. Also to note, I had already made a decision to return to Australia, with flights booked for two days later. Therefore, I had one day to pack up all my belongings, come back to the hospital to obtain all the necessary certificates and say my goodbyes.

A number of goodbyes were had with varying people. On one occasion, I went out for dinner with a few people, and called my parents noticing a stark difference in their approach. No longer were they seeming to be asking questions, rather a very practical conversation unfolded about getting me home. It was definitely a type of conversation needed. The next day I hurriedly attempted to finish off some outstanding work to ensure my cases were left with some direction to follow and then pack all my belongings. The day was coming to a close, and I was now package all my clothes with a giant appetite growing. It was at this very moment whereby the longing for home was ever so strong. My recollections consist of walking to the local Tesco in a snow jacket, with my hood pulled over my head to avoid the trickling of rain. The point, nagging at me was the thought of walking in this weather on my last night to firstly shop at a Tesco before cooking food. I would have left straight away if given the opportunity, and walked into a warm plate ready at home. Instead, a cooked some meal and went to sleep. In the morning, goodbyes were said to my housemates who were excellent throughout the period, and a goodbye kiss was had with my girlfriend on the doorstep. I had to drop my belongings at a friends house, who had prepared a fresh juice and a Cumberland Sausage sandwich in advance. I then walked down to Highbury Station to catch the tube to Heathrow Airport, and also met a friend along the way whereby further goodbyes were said. Next, I was loaded with my scans and medication whilst wearing ridiculous stockings to avoid clotting on the plane and held back the tears when watching a documentary on a snowboarder called Keven Pearce. I must have drifted off to sleep for a while because my memory is hearing the ever comforting announcement of almost touching down in Sydney. Finally I am home.

Should all Cancer’s be viewed as negative?

2nd September 2014: London, United Kingdom

A conversation was had today reinforcing the need to consider how I voice my opinions about Cancer. I guess the very nature of writing is about me reflecting on my thoughts and gaining an understanding of what is happening for me, however, if it is used or read by someone else then a level of respect is needed for others. Moreover, greater explanation of what my thinking is based on so people, if they do read and disagree, can at least see what I base my perspective upon.

The conversation today started in a very similar fashion to how other conversations have unfolded since people learned I had a cancerous tumour removed. There doesn’t appear to be any phased introduction. Instead, their Cancer story, whether that be their own individual Cancer experience or that of someone they love or care for starts to be told. Today, the story was shared by a colleague whom is a mother of a child who had Leukaemia. At present, the young boy is doing well, and has come off his medication so it seems like a very successful and positive story. Still, I think for both parties, tears were held back at varying stages of the conversation. I doubt many exchanges would exist between two people who have experienced Cancer whereby some emotions are not shown. If this is true, then how appropriate would it be to voice opinions about Cancer, especially if those opinions were to query why all Cancers should be viewed in such negative terms? Additionally, let’s say I was suggest that Cancer may be necessary in some instances to force individuals to make needed changes in their lives. The level of appropriateness is simple, it’s not appropriate at all. The reasoning for it not being appropriate was demonsrated in the example above, particularly bearing in mind the resilience of the family and the little boy who has overcome such a rough hand at an early stage. Surely, the years of continual hardship and devastation experienced by the mother can ever be justified?

The process of the writing a journal somewhat compelles me to revisit my own thinking about the matter, however, I do believe, and wish to make clear that I agree Cancer can be an awfully, unjust and painful experience by those who have directly or indirectly experienced it. Alternatively, in some cases it can be the change needed in someone’s life, and the theme of these entries is to find a place for the Cancer in your life and that doesn’t always need to be painful and negative experience, rather a significant life changing event for the better. Furthermore, it is hoped that if this is ever read by anyone, then the collection of thoughts and examples will provide an individual who is either experiencing or has experienced Cancer with some ideas to reshape their personal narrative and relationship with their Cancer. Lastly, the information is hoped to contribute to the wide range of information already existing for carers, family and friends to act as a source of information that may give them a bit of understanding into the behaviours, actions, fears or decisions made by someone they know who has Cancer.