Does a stigma actually exist?

27th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I constantly perceive a certain stigma is attached to my Cancer diagnosis. Just to note, I am a single 31 year old man, living downstairs at the house of my parents, and am unemployed. Honestly, you would be right in thinking I am not really the best catch in the world, especially bearing in mind other factors associated with the Cancer I was diagnosed with, namely, the fact of remaining for an unknown period of time on Chemotherapy whilst having an anticipated limited life expectancy. For anyone thinking I am in need of sympathy is incorrect. I am not naive, and understand I am unable to predict the future, however, I have confidence in both my survival and continual progression in my life. In saying that, admittedly, a sense of loss is always easy to locate, particularly when reminiscing on the possible missed opportunities in my life. The question seeming to surface from writing is more a question about my fears stemming from a sense of loss, compounded by changes to my identity. Upon recognising this point, I believe the points just mentioned trump the opening comments about the stigma of Cancer, and simply it is my fears and sense of loss feeding into false projection about the stigma attached to my circumstances.

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The change in feeings

4th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I just reviewed my entry from yesterday, finding little to currently resonate with in my current state of mind. It makes me think how strange it is to witness my feelings fluctuate from one day to the next. Undoubtedly, the very condition of human nature is to be dynamic, responding in accordance to our surrounding environment, and the changing state of mind is not specific for the Cancer population (if I can label it as such). The feelings of all is bound to fluctuate depending on varying events and stressors in their lives, however, my personal experience makes me inclined to think people with Cancer or other mental and or chronic health concerns would feel the swings more frequently and intensely. The direct influence of fearing actual death is the key factor behind my reasoning. Admittedly, there are times like today whereby I am feeling positive and in a generally normal mind-state, however, as seen yesterday, an inherent fear is yet to be conquered.

Questions about life

14th August 2015: Melbourne, Australia

I am currently in Melbourne for a two day summit hosted by the creators of a podcast called, The Wellness Guys. There is no guessing what the theme is based upon, and honestly, the timing could not be more apt. A lack of writing over the last week resulted from a questioning about the direction in my life. Admittedly, it may sound rather strange if reading the last post, and it should be noted I was in a very tranquil state when away, however, the mood quickly shifted upon returning home. All week an emphasis on my narrative was at the forefront of my consciousness, and I can truthfully say a belief surfaced about the need for a change in my life. An overwhelming sense of simply stagnating in a hole of limbo with limited prospects currently available in my life was present. Importantly, the whole system of thoughts and worries stemmed for an emphasis on a narrative about my life. I have personally seen my story recently based on strength, positive changes and personal growth, however, I questioned what evidence supports this. Some may argue I am overly hard on myself. In response, I would say this is a favourable explanation, and in no way represents a narrative based on strength and overall progression.

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!

Houston, We’ve got a problem!

11th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I hate when people tell me everything will be ok.
I hate when people just don’t listen
I hate to think of the worry I have caused my family.
I hate having to decide who to tell my story with.
I hate even having to think about what my story is.
I hate to think I am writing this.

I hate that I hate.

What happens when your Cancer returns

26th May 2015: Sydney Australia

It is official. Unfortunately, the rematch, i.e. My fight against Cancer is set to recommence. A meeting was attended with my brother, dad and mum today whereby all the available information was shared, and a plan of action was set. The MRI scan shows a tumour has regrown in the same spot as last year, and failure to do anything would result in my death. Therefore, the plan is to have surgery followed by a course of radiotherapy. It seems harder this time, however, a drive to succeed seems stronger. In addition, an overwhelming feeling of anger being experienced is hard to place. I still feel the situation is somewhat surreal as only yesterday morning I was training in the park, and now I am faced with reality of having Cancer again.

The anger felt seems to connect with an ever feeling of loss correlating with my future options. For example, questions posed to myself relating to whether I will have kids or if employment again features in my future story. It just seems my whole plans have been turned upside down, and the only way I can conceptualise the situation is by seeing it as another test of my character, strength and will. Undoubtedly, I am upset and afraid, and the continuous stream of tears is a clear example of the impact it is having on me.

I would say one of the many lessons learned is the realisation of how crying greatly assists my capacity at managing my feelings. Similar to past occasions, certain pieces of information bring the tears flowing, and today they poured when hearing it is very unlikely of me living to a ripe old age of anything else but the disease I have. Some may think the comments are too severe, however, I disagree, and am thankful for the way the information is provided. It has always cemented the reality of the circumstances whilst also acting in some strange way as a source of belief. Honestly, with everything to be faced, I know there are going to be very some extremely difficult times ahead, however, ultimately, I do believe in my survival and capacity in finally claiming victory.

Misery continues..

19th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

The tide is yet to turn, and I am still stuck in a position of curiosity, wondering about the reason for the longevity of this illness. Stupidly, one of the underlying factors driving this unshifting state of mind is the inability to complete my exercises or surf. Fortunately, common sense prevailed this morning when an idea of heading to exercise came to mind. I guess a thought of “fuck it, what else can happen” flicked through my mind, and luckily my senses prevented me from pursuing the idea. The initial thought process reflects the degree of loss again experienced in my life. I acknowledge touching upon the area within my writing, however, it has not really been explored in depth. Admittedly, I am not in a position to give such details, however, a taste of how loss can be experienced was demonstrated whilst going for a brief walk today. As noted, my sense prevailed in stopping me from exercising, however, the idea of surrounding myself with nature whilst integrating some gentle movement into my life appeared a possible avenue to help alleviate some of the mixed emotions felt. Consequently, the total opposite effect was had. The walk only seemed to elicit a feeling of loss. It didn’t matter where I looked, almost every observation resulted in a wish for my normal life, the life lived two years ago to recommence. Honestly, the list could be endless, I could have viewed a guy spread out relaxing in the sun, someone about to surf, a couple, a young family or just a group of young people hanging about. To conclude, I am simply done with these feelings.