The waiting game

2nd December 2015: Sydney, Australia

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.

Let’s switch a negative

21st September 2015: Sydney, Australia

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.

 

Anxiety or fear?

3rd September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I am a week away from having my first scan since the disappearance of the tumour on my left lung, and admittedly, throughout the past two days, a negative thought pattern have resurfaced. It seems I have no control of the intrusive thoughts till recognising I am in the midst of a fatal fantasy about my death. Just to note, this is not the predominant thought process circulating in my mind. Rather, a shift in my recent thinking, especially bearing in mind these thoughts were not at all present over the past seven weeks. I can normalise the thoughts to some degree, linking them to a fear about dying, however, I am not comfortable in just normalising the occurrences. These very intrusive thoughts were targeted as areas to direct attention, and it seems overcoming and controlling these thoughts are an essential point to achieving an outcome different to last time. To conclude, I found myself in a predicament whereby I am incapable of visualising or consciously dreaming about the joys in life, and instead I easily drift into a world of doom and gloom. Obviously, I ponder on the underlying reason for not being able to conjure a pleasant future life in mind. Maybe I need more substance in my life, a greater degree of purpose or the creation of future plans to give myself a concrete reference point to direct my attention?

What is pain?

20th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I am writing this entry, awaiting to be called for my first scheduled operation on my right lung. I am nil by mouth, a factor possibly contributing to my seemingly intensified medicated state. To my advantage, the medication is both managing the pain from the two procedures completed thus far whilst stopping any invasive or worrying thoughts affecting my outlook. The day at a close will be rather eventful, particularly when bearing in mind the story below.

At this moment, I should have had only one procedure, however, two drains adjacent to my wound were required three days ago to release a build up of liquid caused by an infection. Samples since taken have showed the procedure was successful, leading to the removal of the drains this morning. Prior to removing the drains, the nursing staff advised me the specific drain typically causes a degree of pain during the removal process. Interestingly though, the whole process was completed with a level of ease, and it was made possible by identifying with the concept of fear. On reflection, it seems I gained an understanding of the correlation between fear and anticipated pain. The term, anticipated pain was used to separate pain into two domains. One whereby obviously it is anticipated and another type of pain, namely, when it results from a sudden or unexpected event. Basically, I came to conclude if there was no fear, then the body would not be preparing itself for pain in the moments leading up to the expected event. Upon applying this theory, I was able to recognise the information provided by the nurses sent me into a state of fear, and therefore, I was expecting to feel pain. Once this was identified, I was able to draw on an inspirational story of Mick Fanning, a surfer who today was able to escape a shark attack unscathed. I envisioned what he must have been feeling before his encounter compared to the removal of two drains. The mental exercise enabled me to place the upcoming events in context, resulting in a distraction/blockage in my mind. In summary, I was not focused on the anticipated/expected feeling in my body, and consequently, any degree of fear dissipated whilst also leading to a removal of pain when the drains were withdrawn.

If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now

30th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have found the following quote extremely useful in helping find a place for my actions and behaviours over the weekend. I must also add, it makes me also appreciate this exact moment, and not be burdened by perceived past failings or potential future fears.

The quote was made by Damien Echols, a member of infamous ‘The Memphis Three’. Echols stated, “The thing I like most about time is that it’s not real. It’s all in the head. Sure, it’s a useful trick if you wanna meet someone at a specific place in the universe to have tea or coffee. But that’s all it is, a trick. There’s no such thing as the past, it exists only in the memory. There’s no such thing as the future, it exists only in our imagination. If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now”.

Complete intoxication is not the right coping mechanism

29th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I once made reference to a quote stating, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives”. Initially I played with the phrase, adjusting it to my own circumstances by adding, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives whilst others needing a gigantic push”. Now, I pose the question of what happens if nether the tap or push is sufficient to lead to sustainable change? Does it then just signal no other chances at living will be provided? I ask these questions following a night of behaviours and lifestyle choices I thought had been in my past. Just to note, I am not referring to anything malicious. Rather, complete and utter intoxication over a period of two days. Interestingly, it happened in the midst of all this waiting. I ponder whether some significance is associated with the decision? If so, will the direction be an inevitable death at a much earlier age than I ever hoped? Alternatively, will it be a moment, recognised as a coping mechanism, implemented unconsciously to block out all the uncertainty awaiting me? Finally, could it just be evidence of me changing on a permanent basis, and the night was a singular necessary step backwards to ensure the long lasting life does in fact become a reality.

Did I really dream that…

13th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I woke up this morning after crying in my sleep. This is new terrain for me, and definitely not the ideal way to approach a day. The reasoning for my subconscious sobbing is obviously open to interpretation, however, it felt like an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and the feeling of loss present in my life. Thankfully, I am feeling much better as the hours pass, and, I am wishing for the dream to be a singular event. Honestly, what sort of existence involves unexplained crying in my sleep!

An entry with a twist (part two)

18th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

Below is a message sent to a friend last night.

What a moment of contemplation. Friday night, just cleaned toilet after another bout of diarrhoea, look in the mirror to see a weathered face starting at me, and if I didn’t need another prompt, my dirty pants from this morning were in my reflection.

The content is fairly self-explanatory, and with a continuation of diarrhoea throughout the day, I can truly say feelings of anger, accompanied by sense of loss have been brought to surface. Of course, many others experience bouts of diarrhoea, and are upset, however, there is a fear attached to the circumstances that may symbolise a matter of greater importance. Maybe I am being dramatic, it just appears to be an ever frustrating process whereby no pleasure seems possible. I have almost reached the point of reviewing past entries to actually read accounts of happier times because currently I am bound within a hole of fear, misery and anger.

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.

Knowing versus not knowing…

5th January 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have been considering the concept of knowing versus not knowing. The reason behind writing about the topic stemmed from the completion of my scans last week, and usually I would have knowledge of my results. In this instance though, I remain bound within a state of officially not knowing. I use the term ‘officially’ due to the need for my doctor to confirm the person beliefs already felt about the expected results, i.e. being well. I know there is no evidence to support this, and am solely basing my belief from the array of signals sent from my body. For example, my capacity at both completing and recovering from exercise, levels of energy (with exception of fatigue from medication), body weight and overall feeling within my body. As noted, no evidence supports this belief, however, when comparing these factors to those present prior to my illness place me in a position of confidence. The main point is that although I am confident, I actually have no certainty in this belief. Ultimately, allowing a degree of fear to linger in my mind.

Alternatively, the idea can be switched to a position whereby a sense of fear is experienced resulting from the knowledge of recent shark sightings within the local area. A point of major significance due to my interests in surfing and ocean swimming. To note, I am not referring to a brief plunge in the ocean, rather a swim from one destination to the next, i.e. from a grouping of rocks to the beach or a harbour swim. In this case, I have the knowledge of sharks present, yet, I still choose to swim. Therefore, I am able to put aside the thoughts of recent sightings in an attempt to continue a regular pattern within my life. It must be mentioned that knowing sharks have been sighted definitely raises a fear before going for each swim, especially when compared to a carefree attitude held for the majority of my life when little to no shark alarms were heard.

I believe a pivotal point has been brought to surface, forming the basis for my opinion on the matter. Most notably, the fact both a position of not knowing and knowing can lead to fear, however, it has to remembered that if I had no knowledge of a possible reoccurrence, then no fearful thoughts would enter my thinking at all. Therefore, it seems only plausible to believe a position of knowing triumphs over a position of not knowing. If this is true, then I ponder on whether the research and information learned at the beginning of my Cancer experience were in fact beneficial for my future.