For People Living With Cancer

And Ten Years Later!

And Ten Years Later!

” Ok, I have cancer but what can you do?” “We can’t cure you, just manage your disease.” ” How long do I have?” “Unless you are extremely lucky, about 6 months.” So started my entirely unexpected experience with cancer! Incredibly that was ten years ago this year. There have been so many ups and downs, emotions incredibly high then dramatically low, with very little in between. Living between life and death for many of those years, things have really only recently become stable in the last year or so. On reflection I don’t really know how I have got this far, as there were so many times that I just wanted it all to stop. Not just for me but my family too.

The raw emotions of thinking things will be ok and then six months later I am back in hospital. It felt I was a prisoner in my own life! Now I have an incredibly different career to the one I had before. Certainly not financially rewarding but compensated by the emotional highs I receive. How did all this happen, I really have no idea. It started with wanting to do something to improve the terribly disorganised and lack of coordinated cancer support in London, but this has grown to working throughout the world. Slowly one thing led to another and now I am a leading cancer influencer across the globe, with my own charity, helping people affected by cancer across the UK. I am now a professional speaker and writer, and have spoken at many international conferences, and run all my own streams of social media.

None of the above things I had ever done before, and if you had told me that I would be doing them now I would have laughed at you! My previous ambition was to sail into retirement with as much financial security as I could gather. Well that certainly hasn’t happened, but I am in love with life once more! The one thing I enjoyed about my previous job was the unpredictable nature of it. I certainly have that again with this work, never knowing what the next invitation might be, and who might need our simPal service next. Thinking on my feet is a skill I developed early on in life, and it is becoming well used now.

It is not only my life that is changing, but society as a whole. Technology has altered how we deal with everything in our lives, and has given us very different perceptions of our world. The way we do things is becoming more streamlined, and our values are changing. The politics across the globe are drastically different now, and I know we must accept this, particularly as we get older. I have got used to constant change in my own life in the last ten years, which in a funny way has prepared me for living my life now. I embrace change, as it is helping me find new solutions to old problems in the cancer support world. More than anything I am grateful to be living in the ‘Internet generation,’ meaning I have been able to adapt my communication skills to ‘talk’ to people anywhere in the world. As I have got less able to get around it hasn’t stopped me helping people.

I am now a very different person to the one that started the cancer process, understanding what really is important in life. Time is the most valuable thing we have, and that we can give to others. Helping others is now my priority, and I can quickly see with people if my efforts will be wasted. No more polite suffering in silence, with people that I don’t want to work with. I feel strangely empowered by my experience, and can freely select what I do or don’t do, no longer relying on anyone to make a living. Through my work I get to meet many incredible people and visit some exciting places, never knowing what the next communication may be bring. My work is shared around the world and I am regularly invited to speak at international healthcare and tech conferences. But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t got cancer!

Finally I have reached a stage in my life where I am satisfied. My family is growing and are doing well, and I can spend time with them when I choose. My support work is helping many, and our charity is growing rapidly, so I have challenges to keep me stimulated. I am no longer at the mercy of having to work, and unstable industries. Now I can actually work for pleasure, rather than necessity. But would I have chosen this life? Of course not!!

Cancer was always something that happened to other people. Although both my Mum and Dad had it I never really considered that it was going to affect me, particularly as I had reached the age of fifty, with no major health events in my life. But it did, and I have learned many powerful lessons about myself, it is an incredibly humbling experience. Constantly relying on others for support, as a previously very independent man. Realistically, it is what it is, and you have to deal with it! My business career was extremely successful but I believe I have achieved more in life since I got sick, in terms of  contribution to my fellow man.

I have been lucky in many ways, and have had a second chance. These ten years have been an incredible experience with highs and lows like you can’t imagine. What will the future hold? I have no idea, but that’s the way I roll, and am just grateful for every day!! Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement over the years.

How has your own life been changed by cancer? Please feel free to share your experiences and thoughts below.

 

The Grove Hotel Bournmouth
 I am very pleased to be an official Support Partner of  The Grove Hotel in Bournemouth, which is the only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by  cancer.
26 Comments
  1. Heres to another 10 years + Chris! Keep doing what you’re doing.

    • Thx so much Ronny, and to you my friend! You’re doing some fab work and really making an impact in your Community.

  2. I am blown away by your post Chris. Humbled and in awe. You are an incredible Gent and I am proud to know you. Keep on doing what you are and make many more years of memories. Dawn x

    • Thx Dawn and you know I believe we meet people for a reason. A lot has happened to us both over the time we have known each other, and you have been there for me always. It can be a lonely road at times, and without support it can feel impossible. Thank you for being you. Big love to you guys!! xx

  3. You love life and people Chris, it keeps you going. Well done!

    • Indeed that is the case Susan, and I feed from the people I am able to help. Lovely to hear from you. I was at ST Cs the other day to have a chat with some of the staff. I hope life is treating you well xx

  4. Brilliant, well done Chris, so encouraging. Your are an inspiration to many, including me. And while we are at it..well done to the Eagles and see you at the Vic or SP next year!

    • Thx so much on all counts Jeremy. It’s so important share positivity in this sector, as generally there is so much negative news around. Great result yesterday, and hopefully we can catch up before next season. Best to you and ur family!

  5. Great article Chris and a wonderful story of how you’ve moved to giving so much to those living with cancer. You have achieved so so much and continue to do so.

    • Thx so much Ken, I thought those 10 incredible years were worth celebrating. This is my life now, and have come to far with my work. Let’s see where tomorrow takes us. Very best to you all Ken!

  6. Happy 10th anniversary chris. As I’m approaching 10 years of when I was diagnosed I empathise with a lot of the stuff you are saying

    • Congrats to you Pav! I hope you are still managing to do the things that make you happy. Very best, Chris

  7. 10 years! Awesome stuff Chris x

    • Thx Becca, where does the time go for all of us?

  8. You are amazing Chris x

    • Thx Julia! Do things happen for a reason? I hope you and the family are doing well! xxx

  9. Such an inspiration Chris, it’s great to see!

    • Thanks so much Rich, just doing my best in a very different life. Appreciate the support!

  10. What an inspiring article thank you so much. Powerful example of some profound changes you have made in your life wow

    • So glad you enjoyed the piece Carolyn. Sometimes we need a wake up call, and this was mine.Chris

  11. Sending you congrats and thanks for being an inspiration to many including me. Jackie at CCC

  12. Thx so much Jackie! It’s really a case of doing what feels right now. There is still so much wrong in the area of cancer support, it is now my life’s challenge to help improve things, Chris xx

  13. Here’s to the next 10 years Chris. You are an inspiration to many and I am glad to have had the chance to get to know you, even if it is only via the internet.
    Moving on after cancer is hard, especially if you didn’t expect to be around for much longer once diagnosed, as in your case but you have made a new life for yourself and are helping so many people and you really are a “mover and shaker” in the cancer support world and for that we are all grateful. xx

  14. Thanks so much for your kindness with everything you do for me and others Kaz. I’m also grateful to get to know you too. We have a lot in common, and are both very passionate about helping people affected by cancer. Cutting through all the rubbish out there and actually trying to produce something practical.

    I was determined not to let my work get lost amongst the constant noise we hear from large charities etc. Being independent means that I can make a very different impact to many. I will continue to disrupt this sector as best I can because as we know it could be very much better!!

    The support I receive from you and many others is making my life so much easier, and people really are taking note, and we are getting a reputation for walking as well as talking!

    Great that we can work together Kaz, and as always thank you for what you do!! Chris

  15. Thank you Chris. I have been struggling mentally for a year and a half after being treated for a rare and dangerous cancer (myxoid liposarcoma), fearful of its recurrence (apparently 50% odds, with poor chances if recurrence occurs).

    I have not wanted to burden my friends. Thus, aside from occasionally dragging my wife into my world of pessimism and fear, I find I’m quite alone with it.

    Your calmness, candor, humility, and perseverance are really a help to me during this time. Your fear must have been difficult to manage, or conquer, over such a long time.

    Many thanks again.

    Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      Thank you so much for sharing your own feelings and experiences, which were certainly some of the ones I also encountered. As you are well aware that feeling of ‘isolation’ can affect us very often, despite the fact that we are surrounded by friends and family.

      Personally I have found my cancer work a great distraction from my own situation. Of course the fear is always there, but much further back in my mind than it was. The joy I find from being able to help people through my own charity, and receive communications like yours from Boston, fuel me for more.

      We are reaching so many people around the world now, which is great because all those people know they are not alone!

      Please keep in touch Paul, and the very best to you and your family, Chris

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