In relationships is the grass always greener on the other side???

4th February 2014: Sydney Australia

My thoughts are still very much engrossed on a feeling of loss. It seems a degree of finality is established, confirming we have split. Undoubtedly, thinking about what would eventuate should I not be able to commit to moving to the UK contributed significantly, and on reflection it appears I consequently distanced myself from the decision making process. Ironically, it may also be associated with one of the subjects discussed yesterday, namely, whether the matter was too hard to deal with, and instead of facing the matter, I opted to allow it to just fester without giving it sufficient attention.

At present, all types of thoughts are creeping into my consciousness, including a change from going into a place of solitude to heading back to the UK for a period of time. In saying that, I recognise it is just the feeling of not having her in in my life, and of course the thinking is intensified by only a stream of nostalgic memories featuring within my thought process about the time together and the beauty seen in her. One point I find intriguing is how the mind changes at almost an instant, and this point connects with the term I previously discussed within a Cancer context, i.e, “complacency versus normality”. The term was created to equip people for future situations who successfully pass through their Cancer treatment, and wish to maintain some of the positives taken from the experience when faced with the reintroduction of everyday stressors and challenges, i.e. work, family, time, motivation. I have now shifted my thinking, and believe the example shows how the term can be applied on a wider scale, and in some ways is just another version of the well documented phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.

In response to the circumstances with my ex-girlfriend, it will be the first time I need to actually process this kind of loss without choosing to drink alcohol and go out partying. One would think the experiences of last year would have equipped me for the upcoming period, however, a major difference is felt in terms of my Cancer experience in comparison with a breakup. My reasoning stems from a belief of the Cancer experience being a temporary period in my life. In contrast, a finality seems associated with the circumstances with my ex-girlfriend, wiping away any future scenarios envisioned about moments to be shared together.

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.

A walk down memory lane..

17th January 2015: Sydney, Australia

I had thought attention on my Cancer has been decreasing over time, and had hoped for this to continue throughout the many more prosperous years to follow. I still don’t think an example today needs to shift my future course, however, an event to possibly reconsider the situation in terms of the impact rather than the attention. A conversation with my mum yesterday brought me to this position. For the first time, my mum provided details of her feelings during the three days after receiving the phone call when I informed them that I had a tumour. On a personal level, I was happy in revisiting some of the decisions made, including the avoidance of going to full details with my parents over the phone, namely in relation to the size of the tumour. One specific moment was the initial contact made when holding a conversation with my dad, and to note, I knew the tumour was approximately 15cm, and was thought to be Cancerous. Parts of the conversation entailed:
Dad: Well how big is it?
Me: Pretty big
Dad: A grape?
Me: bigger
Dad: Orange?
Me: bigger
Dad: Grapefruit
Me: Yeah about that, it’s pretty big

Now, some may argue honesty was needed, however, I completely disagree. The main points were conveyed, namely, I had a Cancer, and secondly, it was fairly large. In addition, plans were exchanged about my care and when results would be available. The interesting and upsetting information for me was what followed. Mum said that Dad went to the city the next day and cried the whole day, then the following day, both mum and dad followed the same route as the day previous, yet this time they were both crying. For me, that right there is evidence of the impact of Cancer!

I also feel a chain of events directly caused by that conversation unfolded throughout the weeks and months to follow. Similar to any grieving process, evident negative events seemed to surface, and in this instance, an increase in stress and worry compounded by the drinking of alcohol seemed to have featured within the family home. I am not at all meaning to highlight the negative points. Simply, describe some of secondary factors associated with Cancer. On a positive note, the support that continues to be accessible seems unmatched, and the very factors in life that are invaluable and forever remembered. It must be noted that the focus are all internal descriptions, and I wonder what factors will be remembered and live on for my parents. I imagine, our memories will greatly vary!

New aged Bedlam

2nd October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Yesterday I made reference to a new aged Bedlam. An interesting point to my story is the complete contrast in how I spent the week leading up to my hospitalisation. It is almost surreal life to think in the space of three weeks I went from snowboarding in the French Alps to being a passenger in an ambulance to then wearing stockings on a last minute booked flight bound for surgery in Sydney. I recall arriving into Sydney airport, loaded with images of all the testing completed, with an oddly feeling of having an overwhelming appreciation of life. In hindsight, it was the emergence of my completely unfounded confidence and certainty in knowing I was able to overcome the situation.

Recently, I have been reminiscing on the sleepless and bewildered nights on the ward when first transported by the ambulance into hospital. The date was 12th January 2014. The question could be whether a midlife crisis of sorts came early or just an example of the many of obstacles to be faced within our lives?
To give a balanced view about the hospital. I am forever grateful to the treating doctors, one in particular whom seemed to take an interest in me. She endeavoured to discover the cause of the stabbing pains in my stomach and neck, flu symptoms and the diarrhoea experienced for approximately six weeks. The original hypothesis was based on the cause deriving from a parasite laying dormant in my body for seven years since my trip to South America. Ultimately, the treating doctors did exactly as their job description entailed by conducting the appropriate investigations to test their hypothesis about a parasite. In this instance, they were incorrect. Yes, there was something causing havoc to my system, however, it wasn’t a parasite. Rather, the large mass of tumour that was thought to be growing within the right hand side of my torso.

I recall numerous blood tests and hours of waiting leading up till this point with no real progress on pursing their diagnosis. It was throughout this period whereby the conditions of the hospital were challenging to say the least. Sleepless nights, tormented by the moans and screams of fellow patients were intolerable to the extent of me attempting to check myself out. On another occasion, the raucous of the ward left the night doctor with no other alternative to prescribing each of us with sleeping tablets. I woke out of the heavenly induced sleep to hear the same noises from 8 hours previously. Thankful for the rest, I was better able to empathise with what the man must be experiencing, and ended up helping him with basic tasks. The noise from the ward combined with the requests to assist in providing basic tasks, such as giving him water was much more tolerable during the morning. It was a different story at night, especially when alone in hospital, with my mind ticking over about what was causing such pain and discomfort. The reason for being alone resulted from my deceitfulness with everyone, partially telling information about my circumstances, straight-up lying or avoiding all contact with family and friends back home. For instance, I would be saying to my colleagues that my house-mates were with me whilst saying the same thing to house-mates and other friends. In reality, I was lying in bed, waiting to discover the massive changes that would soon change the very world I had come to live. Why did I do this? It may have been a thought to not cause worry for others, however, this all changed once the mass was detected. Firstly, I needed time alone to cry. Secondly, it was essential to have people around me, and finally, I called my brother and best mate from back home to tell them about what was happening. Even with the knowledge of a large mass growing within me, I still made it clear to both my brother and his wife that my parents were not to find out. I did not want them to know till I knew exactly what it was, so in the slight chance it was nothing, then I wouldn’t have cause unnecessary worry. My approach obviously highlights the fact of me not having children as the very matter of being in hospital alone on the other side of the word is typically sufficient reason for any, well most people to advise their parents.