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.

What is your personal narrative?

18th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

The last day of work tomorrow singals the closure of almost four years of my adult life. Interestingly, a reflection on the time is telling about the person who walked into the position and who I am now. Similar to all, changes were bound to happen when exposed to other cultures, home comforts were stripped away leaving me to test myself in a new city, and a transfer into my thirties was undertaken with a different partner to the one featuring throughout most of my twenties. The relevance of Cancer to this? Well for arguments sake, completely nothing! The very process of ageing and living in a different country thousands of miles away from family and friends will usually lead to some degree of change. In contrast, the experience of having Cancer changes almost everything, and the closure of this part of my life seems to be of greater magnitude, especially in regards to my work whereby the Cancer appeared to have touched many of my friends and colleagues.

Although a generalisation, work usually occupies five out off seven days. Personally, it was another area where the internal changes occurring within my life were clearly evident. From the sudden departure to returning with varied workings hours and drastic reductions in after work activity all cemented the world of change that now existed in my life. In regards to the context of change, I am referring to both internal and external factors. My adopted lifestyle choices and overall outlook are based on my created principles to achieve a healthy life, however, externally, the shock and weight of a Cancer diagnosis can lead to a changed perception of you by others. To many, a diagnosis of Cancer typically correlates with a spoken or whispered statement, such as, ‘oh the poor thing’ or ‘how terrible’. It is acknowledged that this isn’t always the case, and it is not at all a criticism. I simply view it as a common response from others about Cancer. My position is to see how this narrative can be used to reshape my the experience, and the attempts being made are to follow my plan to achieve a greater level of success in all areas of my life.

Regardless of the content, a narrative or story exists for all of us. Within the working enviornment, I may have once been the Australian with the curly hair or something completely unknown to me. I am curious as to whether that picture remains, or if my story has now been amended to include the obvious. I placed significant emphasis on my future personal narrative from the very moment of being wheeled out of the hospital ward to give my family a thumbs up to signal ‘I’m ok’. I feel the creation of a positive narrative builds the foundation for others to share in the story, and consequently lead to a reinforced belief in a strength and capacity in achieving longterm health and well-being. I’m unsure of the pictures held in the minds of many, however, I am certain that story would have changed over the past year.