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.

Cannabis vs Chemotherapy

6th October 2015: Sydney Australia

I have spoken extensively about this topic, so the basis of the entry is for others to share their views. Basically, the question relates to why people are so receptive and understanding to the use of Chemotherapy whilst opposing the use of Medicinal Cannabis. Personally, the introduction of Medicinal Cannabis has alleviated ALL SIDE-EFFECTS associated with Chemotherapy whilst also hopefully (no evidence currently supports this) working to support my body to heal. Honestly, I frequently need to provide an in-depth description about the benefits of using Medicinal Cannabis due to suggestions people make about my decision to trial the option. Interestingly, it is rare to be questioned about the use of Chemotherapy, and even rarer to stimulate a giggle when telling people I am putting such a toxic drug into my body.

I do recognise the bias position put forth, however, hopefully educate and inform others about the potential benefits of choosing to use Medicinal Cannabis when faced with a Cancer experience. It is a topic discussed in the past, and seems to have split my small audience. Therefore, it suggests to represent the opinion of the wider community. Please share your comments if reading, whether you are pro, against or undecided about the use of Medical Cannabis.

How Cannabis Oil will influence planning

7th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

The yoga class to be undertaken in approximately an hour will signal the progression to a new stage of my recovery. The latest addition of movement form part of a longterm plan to once again have a week consisting of activities including: surfing, swimming, yoga and calisthenic training. A point to be explored is how the use of Cannabis Oil will impact my future plans, particularly how I will be able to function when completing the nominated activities. It seems very probable for a crossover to exist between the time of finishing the course of oil and adding further movement into my life. Interestingly, the use of Cannabis Oil has taken away all fatigue previously experienced from my chemotherapy. A point never thought possible, especially bearing in mind the typical correlation Cannabis has with lethargy. Admittedly, I am not fatigued or feeling nauseous, yet, a haze exists in my thinking whilst my body becomes utterly relaxed. Therefore, questions loom in regards to whether the temporary elimination of fatigue will result in further movement or alternatively the relaxed state will negatively influence the capacity to push myself. Of course, this is all speculation, so will only time will tell in how well I adapt to the circumstances.

What is Mitotane

25th August 2015: Sydney, Australia

Research was completed into the claims heard by the young person yesterday who stated, ‘the chemotherapy I am taking is a pesticide’. For anyone wanting to cross reference the above information should note, the drug is called Mitotane, and it does seemingly appear to derive from a pesticide called DDT. For anyone not familiar with the pesticide DDT, should also be made aware of the fact it was banned for human consumption by the USA in 1972.

I am consciously aware of the limitations I have in interpreting the information surrounding how the drug was derived from the pesticide, and what possible implications could be associated with the continual use of the drug. Therefore, an email was sent to my Professor expressing an interest in discussing the matter at the next appointment. Basically, my intentions are to make an informed decision, weighing up the risks versus the advantages, especially considering the original form of the drug is now banned in most parts of the world. Furthermore, the limited research on the drug compounded by the fact of the reoccurrence makes me feel inclined to see no separation between the effectiveness of the drug in comparison to other options. Most notably, use of the Cannabis Oil on planned intervals throughout a year combined with an overhaul of my dietary and lifestyle choices. Obviously, I will not be making any rash decisions, however, my current thinking seems to be fairly evident within the writing thus far.

Desicions about chemotherapy

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.

People with Cancer and Cancer Survivors in the same group?

22nd May 2015, Sydney Australia

I am in the car outside the hospital awaiting my next MRI scan. Honestly, there was no stress or thought directed to the outcomes prior to sleeping last night. I can only think and hope that overtime, the procedure is comparable to routine visits with the dentist. Usually, not deemed a favourite place to attend, yet, essential to ensuring everything is ok.

Strangely, a conversation from the initial consulting stage of my project has just come to mind involving an Associate Professor from Sydney University. The relevance of the discussion to my current circumstances links with the planning whereby I toyed with the idea of having people with Cancer and Cancer Survivors in the same group. My reasoning was that both groups could benefit from the exchanges, namely, the creation of group dynamics where survivors are made to feel empowered through their journey whilst the other group can learn and be equipped by the shared stories. Logic prevailed on the matter, realising a separation of the groups was a better option, and this point is only strengthened by days when visiting the hospital for the MRI scan. Admittedly, I am still on treatment and had surgery 15 months ago, however, wish to put this chapter of life behind me, and feel that time passes this period will be seen as a key moment in my life, however, not a moment I hold onto for ever. Therefore, the decision to focus on one particular group was made, and currently being pursued.

Medicinal Cannabis…..

14th May 2015: Sydney, Australia

Last year a friend introduced me to a documentary called, ‘Run from the Cure’. The story is follows a Canadian by the name of Rick Simpson who promotes the use of Cannabis oil for treating ailments, including Cancer. I currently do not have a stance about the matter, however, am increasingly seeing the area gain traction in all forms of mass media, and interestingly the NSW Sate Government of Australia has recently passed legislation in order to conduct trials.

I watched the documentary, and explored other material on the matter to become better informed about the option. The quarrel in using the oil stems from the limited research on the matter, a fear of whether side-effects would be experienced and the implications involved in using the oil. Namely, using the oil would suggest I see myself as unhealthy, and needing the oil to kill Cancer. Obviously, a belief I do not hold. Now, I can understand taking Chemotherapy is somewhat similar, and honestly when thinking about it, I am yet to come up with a strong argument for taking the Chemotherapy above the oil, particularly in my circumstances because there is no evidence to support the type of Chemotherapy I take. So unfortunately, I will need to leave it here for the moment and revisit the topic over the coming months.

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.

Serious questions need to be asked about whether the easiest option is necessarily the best option?

10th February 2014: Sydney Australia

The events last night stained me with memories forming the basis of this entry. It all started with the ever familiar feeling of a nausea crippling all thoughts, motivation, strength and focus. Moreover, these thoughts were compounded by a repulsive odour that was passing throughout my system. An odour, toxic enough to test the fine line between feeling nauseous and vomiting (sorry if too much details). I recall thinking, ‘just one more year’. Fortunately, I soon realised this chain of thinking was not productive, so I pushed through the discomfort in order to complete some mental exercises enabling me to switch the thought process into a state of acceptance. I need to acknowledge the indisputable fact that side-effects will occur whilst also recognising the many flaws that exist in setting a timeframe for when the side-effects will finish, hence, the reason to instead seek for a degree of acceptance with my circumstances.

I stated many flaws could be outlined, and two main limitations will be explored. To commence, the most obvious point surely must relate to a possible scenario of being placed in a situation in a year from now where the recommendation to continue with the course of treatment is received. The reality of the outcome mush be highlighted, especially bearing in mind the mixed input received from varying professionals who have been involved in my care. An overview to portray the previous point entails a recommendation from the team of doctors in the UK who believe I should remain on the medication for a period of five years, with an indication of a maintenance dose for the entirety of my life. Secondly, my case was presented to doctor from the USA who is a specialist in the area, agreeing with a timeframe of no less than five years till review. Thus, as noted, a continuation of the treatment for more than a year could be a very real possibility. If so, what happens when I am feeling like this next year? What sense of hope can be derived from a situation when faced with another loss, especially with no finish line ahead. It is for this reason why an acceptance of uncomfortable and upsetting situations needs to be found within my life. It is not easy, however, it seems a far better approach than setting in place potentially harmful timeframes.

The second point is the growing inclination to use some form of prescription drugs to just sleep at night as a means of taking away any discomfort. A temporary solution in extreme circumstances, however, if taken on every occasion I feel nauseous, then I believe a reliance could easily be integrated into my weekly routine. Furthermore, serious questions need to be asked about whether the easiest option is necessarily the best option? In addition, I am unable to shift my view of seeing the action of taking a pill to relive any suffering as truly not doing all I can to overcome this situation. Again, this point would be contentious, and all people would vary in their approach, however, I feel a testing of my mind and body is definitely in process. Therefore, what reflections can be drawn from me taking the easy option? I am not advocating for suffering, yet, I would prefer a period of difficult is worked through by building my internal resources rather than a temporary remedy is taken in the form of a tablet. Finally, and is probably the primary reason for not considering use of any substance at this stage is due to very likely sedated effect on my body and mind th following mornjng. Therefore, I actually see the decision as counterproductive, and prolonging the period whereby I am incapable of undertaking routine tasks.

Exhausation…

19th December 2014: Sydney. Australia

I had a meeting with an Associate Professor from Sydney University today in the hope of making progress with the planning of my Sunflower Framework. Overall, the outcomes seemed positive with details of other researches provided, feedback on the proposal provided and an arrangement to meet again in January to further discuss the matter. I am hopeful a positive result awaits, and need my motivation to continue, especially with the road ahead still seeming a long way till confirmation is obtained stating research and or operation of framework can commence.

Just to note, there was a considerable amount of difficulty experienced in preparing for the meeting. Yesterday, fleeting thoughts passed through my mind surrounding doubts in attending the meeting plus my overall mental and physical state seemed to complicate all the tasks involved in appropriately equipping myself. It is hard to define my actual state, it’s not a feeling of nausea or exhaustion from the cold over the past two weeks. Rather, an overall subdued feeling, making daily tasks seem almost overwhelming. The effort needed to continue currently write an entry definitely meets this criteria. I feel some change is required, and consequently I am inclined to review the daily logs from the past year to compare the foods consumed around the period of April/June compared to now. The goal is to assess whether a degree of complacency has crept itself into my daily life, possibly having a correlation with this prolonged feeling. I guess May/June will provide a good bearing as it was at the time when I was extensively reading and listening to information about food and nutrition. Another area of my life missing will be the difference in undertaking yoga on a daily basis at a centre compared to completing my poses at home. I had information from my doctor today advising me I had climbed into the therapeutic window for my treatment, meaning the amount of chemotherapy circulating throughout my body has increased rather significantly prior to the period of April/June. Therefore, an explanation of these changes could simply derive from this increase, a very likely possibility, however, it will still be useful to see how else I combat the feelings I have to return to a better stage of health within my mind and body.