As much as I would like to write about other topics, my attention is centred firmly on obtaining the results from the most recent scans completed. I strongly believe there may be a chance of acquiring the necessary information, but that would mean breaking my pact to learn of the outcomes of the scan. If so, does a weakness correlate with my thinking? I need strength, I need to be healthy, I need to continue playing the waiting game.
I received a text from a friend containing a photo of me from when I was 24 years old, and almost immediately, I noticed a body I have become so unfamiliar with. The striking difference is of course a long forgotten flat abdomen region spanning across the entirety of my lower torso whilst further examination reminds me of the normal chest I had prior to starting the chemotherapy that caused my chest to be more akin to the body of a 14 year old girl. If a greater analysis was undertaken, then I can also connect with a completely carefree attitude evident in my face, however, I wish to keep all emphasis on the noticeable changes in my body resulting from the lasting impact of consecutive surgeries and the course of treatment tackled thus far.
There are many paths for this entry to lead down, and the singular route to be explored relates to the question about the importance of body image. Firstly, is it a reflection of my shallowness to even think about some scarring and an enlarged chest when taking into consideration the fact I am here, alive and smiling? Secondly, please consider the situations for many others, particularly women who some may argue lose some of their femininity when having a breast removed or have the need for a colostomy bag. Just to note, I do not hold this view about women, however, I have both heard and read this to be true, so wanted to widen the scope for discussion about the connection between Cancer and body image.
Ultimately, my current predicament is obviously preferred over death, and believe most others will hold the same position, however, a seemingly blanket view held from others about being superficial for placing emphasis on this topic is simply mirroring a misunderstanding about the impact of certain factors associated with Cancer. As noted in previous entries, I believe it can often be the secondary factors that haunt people who have experienced Cancer, and the only means for decreasing the impact is for educating the masses about some of the areas that may simply be overlooked by discarding these concerns by a belief that everyone should just be grateful to be alive.
I am very conscious my writing has shifted in focus from detailing the associations of my personal Cancer experience to expressing the emotions involved in the battle my mum currently faces. I believe the emphasis placed on my mum accurately portrays the priorities held in my life, and it is rather intriguing to consider how fast the change occurred. Ultimately, I centred directly upon the experiences and impact of my Cancer diagnosis for a period over 12 months till I was confronted with the unexpected news about my mum. One point to draw from the immediacy of the switch is the unfortunate circumstances of experiencing Cancer at a young age from both a direct and indirect position. I will stand by my comments about the circumstances being unfortunate, however, an alternate term to be used can also be unique. I recognise many people are facing hardship in their lives, and empathise with their situation. Furthermore, I am not at all trying to place my position above others. I simply feel my position is unique, and can utilise my situation to better support my mum throughout the upcoming period whilst also serving a purpose in broadening my comprehension about the ways my behaviours, actions and adversities effect those close to me. To conclude, without any selfishness, I have an awareness of the importance of maintaining my wellbeing throughout this period, and the new arising challenge will be to equally balance attention on my personal goals whilst working through the guilt, fear and pain felt in relation to the struggle my mum is enduring.
My first attempt at exploring the area of fermenting foods is now in progress. The above picture shows my initial batch of homemade Kombutcha. Now, it is a matter of waiting till a week passes before I discover whether it was successful. If so, I can commence slowly adding the Kombutcha into my daily intake whilst proceeding to use the contents of the jar to make Kim Chi and Sauerkraut. Recent conversations based on the concept of both making and adding fermented foods into my diet has resulted in mixed responses. In many ways, it is very similar to how I first reacted when hearing about the method approximately a year ago. The question circulating through my thoughts relate to a hypothetical question of whether we were able to fast forward time to a year from now, and compare the responses of people then to now. My prediction would be for a lot more knowledge to exist on the area, and the introduction of fermented foods into menus and some forms or mass media are evidence of the momentum gaining on the area.
My day has not all been about fermenting foods, I have also found myself experiencing pain for the first time in a couple of weeks, and it seems to result from not adhering to the schedule of taking Cannabis Oil on a daily basis. I acknowledge the initial purpose was to work in collaboration with my body to kill any mutating cells should there be microscopic remains left, however, I was most definitely naive in overlooking the duel impact it was having. Most notably, the capacity of the oil to relieve the pain from the surgery. The reading on the oil before starting all seem to indicate I would not experience feelings commonly associated with consuming Cannabis. It is somewhat comical for this point to not be clearly reflected within the readings, and I feel this is essential for people to make informed decisions if they are to choose to explore this particular avenue. In saying that, I would like to finish the entry by asking people to place aside any preconceived ideas they may have about Cannabis, and solely focus on the benefits it appears to have in eliminating any nausea, fatigue or other side-effects associated with Chemotherapy. Points, I want others to not underestimate when hearing more in the future about the possible medicinal benefits of Cannabis, especially bearing in mind the openness many people have to all kinds of medicines in tablet form.
24th August 2015: Sydney, Australia
Today, I made contact with a young person who is also overseen by my Professor. The young person had a reoccurrence of Adrenal Cancer (ACC) that spread to his lungs, however, now, approximately five years since finishing a course of Mitotane (chemotherapy for ACC), he is completing his first year at University. It is excellent to hear he is pursuing his studies, especially after being forced to face the journey at such a young age.
Interestingly, the conversation left me more confused about what actions to pursue in the future, namely, whether the course of Mitotane should continue. The young person had strong negative views about the drug, labelling it as a pesticide. Honestly, there is no surprise about his views after hearing the difficulty he endured over the period of 18 months. In terms of my own body, it is a decision I need to make, and whilst seemingly appearing to continue living without major disturbances from any side-effects, there appears to be a safety net associated with taking the drug. There is some irony in seeing the drug as a safety net, especially when bearing in mind my levels were so high, they were actually within a range deemed toxic before the Cancer resurfaced. The question surely becomes why is it viewed a safety net, especially when little success was achieved? I believe the matter could be debated long and hard, particularly being aware a lot of people would proclaim the drugs may be detrimental to my immune system and overall capacity to heal. In response, the only point coming to mind is the thought of not giving myself every opportunity to life should the drugs discontinue.
Time has come to farewell the magestical land, laughter, amazing food and awesome waves with my closest friends. In all honesty, the time away was the perfect preparation for what awaits when I return home, and in hindsight, I am extremely pleased to have had the support from my family, friends and Profesor to head on the journey. Below are a few pictures to briefly capture some of the moments 😄