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.

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Travel preparations when on Chemotherapy

11th May, 2014: Sydney, Australia

The two month trip to Indonesia is rapidly approaching, and a fair amount of planning is required. Previously, I would have packed my belongings, knowing some clothes, a passport, and bank card provided assurance the trip would run smoothly. How the situation differs. At present, I am working out the number of tablets needed over the course of two months, factoring in the additional levels of Cortisol required to boost my immune system. Moreover, I am liaising with my Professor surrounding whether specific intravenous training is needed for emergencies whilst trying to obtain a letter outlining a list of my all my prescribed medication. A point brought to the forefront of my thinking due to recent relations between the Australian and Indonesian governments, particularly as I will be taking in excess of 500 tablets into the country. Lastly, I am becoming accustomed with a wristband ordered from USA arrived last week. The sole purpose is to provide instructions on what my body requires if I am unable to communicate my needs in case of an emergency. Hopefully, when reflecting on the time away, the wristband is not used, and instead falls into the category of contingency planning!

The arrival of the wrist band reminded me of the moments when first needing to wear glasses. At the time, my thoughts would be best summarised by a projected perception of my description by others as, ‘that guy with glasses’. In this instance, the curious and wondering eye of others would notice I am now officially stamped with a medical condition. Luckily, I consider myself mature enough to overlook the perceived label associated with the wristband, a circumstance not comparable to my teen years when braces were virtually forced upon my teeth. In all honesty, it actually does act as a continual reinforcement to my predicament, however, I seem to be progressing well with my capacity of managing the array of factors associated with Cancer, and simply see the wristband as an insignificant adjustment to my appearance. Furthermore, the prospect of spending time in the sun, surfing quality waves in warm water with a range of good friends, then arriving to have approximately six more months before coming off my medication is extremely pleasing, and if a little comfort is provided to those close back home should I wear a wristband then so be it 😄

Plan to succeed

4th May 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have come to realise a saying taught many years ago within a professional context is easily transferable to other areas, including your personal development. The intentions of applying the rule ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ was to highlight the responsibility l had in ensuring thorough groundwork was completed prior to meeting with a family or individual to complete a therapeutic session. As noted, I see benefits of applying the rule into our lives, and my writing, if used effectively can provide the platform to hopefully build success, opposed to failure.

Yesterday was a clear example of my writing acting as the very means to plan ahead in preparation to approach a situation to the best of my capacity. It was actually ironic in some ways to consider I had put together an entry about the very topic on the day before the question was asked. It was not something major, simply a conversation within a social environment relating to my lifestyle choices. On reflection, if I had not taken the time to sit down and write about my thoughts, then the execution of my answer would not have accurately captured my feelings towards the situation. In summary, my writing can be useful when I am able to avoid becoming stuck in a hole of despair, and at such times, many similarities exist with the preparation undertaken for a job interview whereby you have had the time and space to gain clarity in your thoughts before needing to share with others. To conclude, I must acknowledge my fluctuating feelings on the matter, however, overall, a journal would be encouraged for all people experiencing Cancer to ensure any difficult circumstances or encounters can be hopefully prepared for in advance.

I am going overseas, so just rip the tooth out!!

9th March 2015: Sydney, Australia

I was correct about the over-reaction to the pain from Thursday. Scans revealed the source of the pain was a swelling of my gums around one of my remaining wisdom teeth. Initially, attempts were made to apply gel to the region, however, three days of pain resulted in the decision to just booking an extraction of the tooth. My thinking was based on two ideas. Firstly, if I am in pain, it is preferable to be in pain knowing the tooth has gone, and secondly, it is far better eliminating potential concerns before travelling overseas during the winter months.

One of the points associated with this process was the delay in getting the tooth extracted, and this derives from the concerns held about the treatment I am receiving. Obviously, it is essential point to be considered, and in all honesty, my Professor made a fairly swift response. It was just another factor reinforcing the restrictions on planning due to my circumstances. Two examples come immediately to mind in regards to this topic. The waiting period as mentioned is one such factor, and the other being the need to be fully equipped for the planned overseas travel to Indonesia over the months of June/July. Factors to consider include a heightened awareness of the food eaten due to concerns and implications with my Cortisol levels should I become ill, the exploration of travel insurance options excluding any Cancer related concerns plus future decisions regarding use of injections and medications whilst away. On reflection, all points should really be factored into travel, so possibly on my behalf it’s more a lack of vigilance in the past.

To conclude, I am completely content with the prospect of being in a pain for another week. My reasoning, I have the knowledge it is simply a tooth ache 😄

New Years Resolutions??????

1st January 2015: 2014
The New Year is usually associated with future projections and planning. The way I have framed questions this year has been in the context of, “what do you wish to achieve”. I believe the frame is more powerful than just asking about a resolution, a phrase that has been overused, with a somewhat acceptance of the ordinary being acceptable. Although the question is a topic of curiosity for me, personally I am unsure if I am able to conjure any further measurable outcomes for the year. It appears I am still stuck on my narrative of building strength, power, intelligence and evolving in every-way possible.

If the basis of my goals are to develop a narrative for my life, then the question surely needs to follow on from the previous paragraph, namely, how I will be able to measure success? Admittedly, a point I am yet to be able to answer. It seems prior to moving on, an explanation on my developed narrative seems essential. Simply, the collection of words are used like a mantra throughout varying times in the day to help in reaching my desired goal. It must be acknowledged that an ambiguity exists in executing the collation of words to bring my narrative to reality. It seems a missing link to resolving the ambiguity seems to result from a sole reliance on past experience, actions and behaviours. So, if my only reference point for future progress is dependent on past actions and behaviours, then how will I have the mental imagery required to cement a more enhanced sense of self? Furthermore, should I not be able to cement images in my mind then how will my body be able to perform such functions? Therefore, external inspiration is essential to providing motivation whilst expanding my awareness of the available possibilities to cement pathways to obtain my desired goals.

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.