Am I known as just that Cancer guy?

27th May 2015: Sydney Australia

I still leave for my trip tomorrow, however, it is now a shorted version, and I have hope that my ex-girlfriend will meet me for a week. Till yesterday, it had been a number of months since talking on the phone. Oddly, with everything happening, it felt so normal, elicited such happy emotions, and has intensified a want and need for her to be with me. I am unsure whether it will actually happen, and one of my major concerns is how fair the situation is for her, so will need to wait to see how it unfolds.

The reestablishment of communication had only added to the surreal feelings had in regards to everything happening around me. It was only last week, I was talking about a confidence in knowing the scan was to be ok whilst looking at the prospect of two months away surfing, completing my yoga and continuing my progression. Now, my mind is constantly drifting, knowing I will soon be cut open followed by a round of Radiotherapy. To put it simply, I just want to live a normal life, and not return to this story of me being the Cancer guy.

Time to switch my thinking and preparation..

22nd April 2015: Sydney, Australia

Another photo was taken today to coincide with my plans to track my recovery in pictures. The shot highlights the need for an increase in sunshine, and the changing of seasons from summer into winter. I was surprised to see the vast difference in my skin colour across the months, and it seems a greater level of physical health correlates with exposure to sunshine. The photos from July and December support these claims. Another noticeable change is the reappearance of the slant within my posture. A correction in my body thought to be fixed.

Interestingly, I have almost been writing for a year, and have plans to review the entires whilst travelling solo. One point coming to my mind is the actual benefits obtained in writing, and being more specific, I would say whether the process of writing makes me think more negatively? For instance, I was not writing at the corresponding time last year before heading to the UK, and consequently, I doubt a comparable level of concern would have been experienced regarding my health, and how my body would respond whilst away. On reflection, factors need to be considered, namely, the increase of Mitotane being administered, the familiarity of London and the prospect of living with my girlfriend at the time. All points possibly explain the differences in my preparation, however, the point of concern and worry needs to be focused upon regarding my upcoming trip. In reality, it seems I am more inclined to write about potential mishaps, compared to the prospect of spending two months in the sun, surfing magical waves and visiting Ubud to emerge myself within yoga for a period of time. It seems these latter points need to be at the forefront of my thinking when having doubts, especially when considering the hypothesis posed in the first paragraph about a greater level of health appears to correlate with an increase in sunshine. To conclude, it appears the solution has surfaced. It is really simple, basically I just need to get my head in the right frame of mind, not be so dour about everything, and imagine the fun times to be had!

Ok, we have split! Now let the post-breakup clean out commence…

23rd February 2015: Sydney, Australia

The cleanup of my relationship has commenced. I am fully aware the decision was made only approximately a month ago, so doubts constantly occur whether a cleanup is too premature, particularly when a picture, song or one of the many reminders in my life leads me to a place mixed with nostalgia and a desire for the situation to be varied. It seems I romanticise on all the good times enjoyed together, with no capacity to recall any of the times we argued. Interestingly, it was the very the same incapacity when breaking up with my last girlfriend, who I must add, was the complete opposite, and was able to conjure all kinds of reasons for not being together. Obviously, the right decision was previously made right?

An expansion of the cleanup process is most probably needed. I have not gone to the extremes of burning photos and letters. Rather, making subtle changes so I am no longer getting constant memories triggered by the wide range of methods available. A point seeming more apt in the times of social media. In addition, the modifications to my lifestyle result in me actually needing to confront the stark realities of the situation, and it appears I am constantly deploying a level of restraint to target the range of temptations experienced. Frequently times occur when a message, call or just a look to see how she has been doing can be a dominant thought, and it is the application of mental exercises that have ensured such actions haven’t been followed.

The cleanup process links directly to an acceptance of the situation, and similarities in tactics can be drawn from the learning associated with thoughts relating to the tumour inside of me last year. I could easily fall into a dark headspace with my feelings, however, use of mental exercises, integration of movement into my life and other factors have helped me work to a place whereby I can process the feelings of the breakup whilst applying blockers in place that restrict me from becoming obsessive about the circumstances, and falling completely off track in my life. One final point is how evident the breakup has been in proving to be a distraction from my health concerns. Not by any means the best distraction, however, a clear shift, demonstrating the opportunity for other stories to take priority in my life. A trend I wish to continue for many years to follow.

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.

Break up time with girlfriend plus the questioning of whether being positive is actually beneficial?

3rd February 2014: Sydney Australia

Motivation for writing has been recently lacking, particularly as the situation with my girlfriend, who now seems to be my ex-girlfriend was coming to a close. It has brought to surface a past thought, noting the power in paradoxes, especially in regards to leaving a position of having to not having. I believe reference was made in the previous entry about an argument with my girlfriend, and on reflection it is interesting how fast my mind can block out any negative past circumstances and just be overwhelmed by loss. More so, bearing in mind we are already on opposite sides of the world so there is no physical removal, and probably the easiest breakup with no possessions or children involved. Regardless of the circumstances, it seems to have captured my full attention and focus, and consequently left me feeling subdued and unable to show emotion. It just brings me back to consider the juxtaposition of fulfilling our desires, and leads me to think desires are dynamic and constantly changing. The matter of contention, eventuating in the breakdown in the relationship was my incapacity to commit to moving back to the UK. My reasoning was that I was headstrong in thinking that living in Australia was where I wanted to be, however, the level of doubt experienced over the past few days has greatly intensified.

Interestingly, the emotions involved in the argument raised both feelings about my past and future, and I feel these matters compounded by the unfolding circumstances with my girlfriend/ex-girlfriend. The past feelings experienced are inextricably connected to the thoughts about my future, largely in regards to my employment prospects. For instance. Prior to the discovery of the tumour, I had successfully obtained a promotion I was working towards. A position that would elevate my earning capacity, provide internal satisfaction, promote future opportunists whilst also be a new stimulating challenge. My decision was to keep my employers updated with my situation, and in summary I received an email from the director whilst in hospital recuperating from the surgery advising me that I was no longer eligible for the position. I can obviously understand the reasoning behind the decision, however, did question the process, including the complete lack of consultation, even to the point of the department making the decision without knowledge of my prognosis or whether in fact the tumour was Cancerous. To say I was bitter would be a massive understatement, and I still go this day hold some resentment about the decision.

At present, it seems another form of rejection, reinforces the impact of the secondary factors associated with the illness and then shifts my thoughts to a questioning of how employable I will be another year from now following a lengthy period away from work. As noted, the feelings of loss can span across several areas of my life, all stemming back to the tumour inside of me. In reality, yes, I am healthy and enjoying my life, however, I am now 30, living with my parents, broke up with my girlfriend, stopped my further education and lost an excellent career opportunity. It raises interesting thoughts about positivity, particularly the question of whether positivity is actually helpful? Some would scream it is the very essence of progressing throughout a course treatment. In contrast, it easily can be used to provide some kind of false hope for people so real issues don’t need to be focused upon because they are categorised as too hard to deal with.

Why is my writing so saturated in negativity?

29th January 2014: Sydney Australia

From the very beginning of this entry, an underlying theme of positivity should be splattered for all to see. The reasoning stems from the confirmation received reinforcing the belief already held about my health and well-being. In addition, I was advised my doctor could not see my overall prognosis in a situation better than my current presentation, especially when a year ago I was sitting in the very same seat with any number of negative outcomes very probable. Therefore, one would expect an overwhelming sense of relief to be almost bleeding from the entry. Instead, I write with a scorn and grimace plastered across my face.

Firstly, I had a very poor start to the morning resulting from a terrible night sleep. Secondly, the weather has been awful, another driving factor wanting me to get out of here once the temperature drops on a permanent basis. Thirdly, an argument over messages was had with my girlfriend. An event I must add is seemingly occurring too frequently, and finally, I am currently writing with my knee resting in an elevated position wrapped in ice. Above any of the previously mentioned, the latter point is the root cause of the horrid mood pulsating throughout my body. I am hoping nothing serious has occurred, and do believe I am placing over emphasis on the matter, however, the reality of the an outcome should I have damaged my knee is currently unbearable. Tears almost started draining from my eyes as I was washing around the water after my knee gave way whilst riding a wave this morning. A massive crack caused alarm bells to ring in my mind, and immediately, I became worried. I started repeating positive affirmations to settle my thoughts, and once arrived on the shore was able to do complete some simple exercises so am simply using the ice as a precaution. I did have a battle in my mind for a moment about fitting in some yoga, however, reason prevailed, and I will be resting for the day. In all honesty, I am tempted to take some pain medication to just switch off from everything for a while, however, my mind has returned to the topic previously discussed about isolation versus solitude, and in this case it would be a clear example of isolating myself. Therefore, reason has once more prevailed, and I am able to identify the thinking pattern is destructive, leading me stay away from self medicating and instead opt to read, complete some meditation and sleep naturally.

Relationships, work, massage… And a hopeless romantic

20th January 2015: Sydney Australia

My whole body ached from the moment of waking, consequently a sluggish approach to the day followed with the majority of the day spent resting. The only moment of relief followed the remedial massage enjoyed in the afternoon. The day reinforced the need to ensure rest is factored into my daily routine plus made me consider the role of love and close companionship in correlation with a recovery from Cancer. I am basing this statement on the past three weeks whereby my girlfriend had been staying in Sydney, and interestingly these weeks were the most active had since my operation, yet I hardly experienced any serious bouts of nausea. Another factor was the increase in motivation to partake in activities compared to times when I am spending time alone. It seems there is almost a fine line between undertaking my usual schedule of activities, including yoga, surfing, reading, writing and exercise and exerting myself in a range of varying activities. I guess it should be noted that a typical day did see an afternoon crash, and this is a point not to be overlooked when reflecting on the time with a sense of nostalgia. Logically, the discussion leads me to consider the matter of employment and when will be the appropriate time to renter the workforce. It has been a matter at the forefront of my thinking recently due to a state of curiosity about whether a comfort in not working will be hard to shift. Ultimately, making it actually difficult to feel prepared to commence working again. Lastly, and importantly, the sense of working was much stronger in April/May last year when I was actively looking for positions compared to a somewhat acceptance currently held about my incapacity to work. Thus, limited interest and attention is presently placed on employment. Instead, my focus is completely directed to achieving and sustaining a level of health that surpasses previously experienced. The words I finish with entail a question of whether love to a close complain is always present in my life leads to my overall capacity to complete all tasks, including a renewed interest in work? Or am I just a hopeless failed romantic at heart?

Even the pests of the sky can maintain a relationship..

23rd November 2014: Sydney, Australia

It is intriguing how the natural occurrences within daily life can appear to truly reflect one’s state of being. I am curious as to whether this relates to being more open and aware of the natural phenomena surrounding you when sent into a subdued mindset by the challenges faced at that moment in life? The sequence of events to be explained followed another argument with my girlfriend. In brief, the argument started as an extremely minor exchange before quickly escalating into a phone conversation where I was swearing, had a raised voice and hung up the phone, A rather embarrassing situation to reflect upon, and possibly helpful to amend future behaviours. Easily, ownership of the argument could be externalised by making reference to the possible changes in my mood and behaviours resulting from the significant shifts over the past year. I think such a stance could draw on the profound impact of the social, emotional and biological factors evolving around me. Take for example, the brakes that have been applied in my life in regards to future career opportunities, the joy I see in many of my friends in forming life partners with someone else or the internal changes resulting from my medication. I am in no way bitter about any of the points, however, the examples could be used as possible reasons to explain a persons behaviours and actions. As noted, no reasons or in this cases excuses will be applied. Rather, complete ownership of the argument needs to be taken on board. Furthermore, if the argument did not occur would all the signs have come to my attention today?

The events mentioned were located within a Chinese restaurant of all places, and I imagine a certain mood had been detected by my family during the meal. Typical for a Chinese restaurant, the fortune cookies arrived. All versions were shared, with mine stating that happiness was found when two minds connect. Just what I needed to hear! As if thoughts about my relationship hadn’t been running through my mind already. I felt absolutely shattered upon returning returning home and feel asleep for a few hours. My mind was needing to be cleared so I went for a surf. It was very small with not many options available, however, it was just what I desired. There was no one else in the water, simply allowing my mind the time and freedom to wonder whilst also hoping to catch a few small waves for fun. I was aware of the light dimming due to the time of day and the looming clouds appearing to pour open at any moment, then my gaze drifted out to the horizon with two seagulls immediately coming into focus. I noticed the two of them playfully swooping together. I thought ‘wow, even the pests of the sky can maintain a relationship’.

So, the looming clouds were quickly covering the skyline, and I was wishing for the clouds to pour rain all over me. It was almost like a feeling of the clouds shedding the tears for me. I was wanting to embrace the rain, with my arms completely spread open, enabling me to fully accept the tears. It wasn’t to be, and in some way, the wish for rain would not have been consistent with the theme of day. Instead, I came to realise the symbolism of the clouds appearing in the sky was to bring out my feelings whilst not allowing an easy option of allowing my tears to fall from someone other than me. The question I am pondering is whether I would I have smiled or cried if the clouds opened up? They still hover over the skyline, mirroring my dour facial expressions and body language.

Cancer and relationships

30th October 2014: Sydney Australia

I have been lost for words over the past two days, with the mental blockage seeming to have occurred again today. I can pinpoint the reasoning for this lack of motivation, and solely derives from a thought about the current imbalance present in my life.

In most areas I feel fantastic, being able to adhere with my plans for movement for the week, not having periods of nausea, and able to construct future planning regarding what I wish to be doing over the coming year. At first sight, all appears to be going well, there is of course the fact of no current income, however, this isn’t a major priority at the moment resulting from the limited weekly outgoings. So really, it is another positive point right? What is the missing link? One word, relationships.

It is now three days of enduring an old style country standoff with my girlfriend, and through the process of writing have been able to identify some of the moods had over the past few days as stemming from this. A standoff doesn’t sound like the best approach to regaining a balance in my life, actually talking would seem like an easy way to rectify this, however, something relatively small has now entered a phase where a stubbornness is stopping me from putting myself out there, or is the matter rather larger than I can face, and cowardly the larger issue has been unravelling throughout the past few days in disguise? There’s no link direct link to cancer. Rather a secondary connection to the Cancer experience, an area I imagine is difficult for many in a relationship, particularly for our case as we are living on opposite sides of the world. All I know is that is has left me angry, deflated, at a complete loss from not seeing her smile, and all the feelings have been intensified by a loneliness resulting from my parents taking a holiday. Yes, a 30 year old man who is feeling somewhat alone resulting from his parents going away for the weekend. Compare this to travelling alone around the world during my twenties. What a catch I’ve turned out to be!