I hadn’t actually realised the toll that the last few months was taking on me, and I was starting to see my upcoming first ever cruise, as an obstacle to continuing the things I was doing. Particularly dealing with my late Mum’s affairs which are becoming more complex. Adding to that some important meetings, then the uncertainty of health during travelling, I was starting to feel unsure about my break as we were driving to Southampton to join the ship. We rarely are able to take holidays due to my unreliable health, but this trip was an opportunity to experience something we had never done before, unusual at my age! As much as anything Mrs L deserved the break, and to be waited on hand and foot. As we had never cruised before we went with some friends who knew the ropes. My 60th birthday also fell a few days into our trip so it was a very strange time for me.
The first big obstacle I encountered was the shocking price for Wi-Fi on board, which encouraged me to leave my phone in the safe for most of the time, and what a blessing that proved to be! I was actually focusing fully on enjoying myself, which is something I rarely do if I’m honest. My friends remarked quickly how relaxed I had become. Having got so used to immediate communication it was difficult at first, but even if I got some news whilst on the high seas, what could I do with it? It did feel like I was trying to come off a drug, but I realised it had given me some much needed ‘me time.’ We had a fantastic time away, and I learned a very valuable lesson. I do enjoy keeping in touch with everyone via my social media channels but I have overplayed it’s importance in my life. For the first time in a long time, I was with thousands of people who didn’t know me as ‘that cancer guy.’ Going to dinner was a joy, as I never mentioned anything about cancer and I felt like I had got back to my old self.
Since our return of course I have got back into things, and have some interesting opportunities, but realised it was nice to be really anonymous! The time away from the constant nudging of social media has given me something to think about. At the age of 60 I have received my Freedom Pass too, which enables me to have free travel around London, one advantage to getting older! I have already used it several times and can see myself getting out much more frequently now. Not being able to work regularly left me with a large vacuum to fill, which I did quickly with my support work, and of course I am passionate about what I do. My personal charity work is now taking primary importance as we look to help more people affected by cancer.
Last night I watched an incredible programme entitled ‘The Big C And Me’ on BBC One. This focused on some incredible patients and their families and the impact that the disease was having in their lives. It is one of the few programmes I remember that seemed truly focused on the people, without a bias of healthcare organisations. The patients involved were incredibly honest and at times the programme felt raw. All the examples were things I had encountered within my own experience. I was lucky enough to speak to the person who made the programme and he told me that he wanted to help remove the stigma around cancer. I told him he had done a brilliant job!
But it brought back very vividly, my own experiences and I couldn’t help but think how isolation begins to take over when you are diagnosed. One man in the programme described having been ‘reborn’ after cancer, meaning that his old life had finished and a very different one had begun. Everyone affected by cancer is learning to ‘live again.’ This programme helped a mass audience understand the psychological issues that people have to deal with. I know since speaking to many since, that they started to understand things more clearly afterwards.
However frustration is never far away from my thoughts when discussing cancer support, and I am learning via my own charity, a lot more of the inner workings of health organisations. Everyone is so aware of the issues but I see no genuine efforts to change the overall picture. Patients are on the whole still in the dark as to what help is available and where it is. As one person mentioned during the programme it is now like ‘living in a fog.’ In this day and age there is no need for this to happen. We have so many channels of communication available but few organisations grasping the nettle to collaborate for the benefit of patients. Red tape and self interest are just a couple of the major issues hindering the issues around cancer support. Goods and services given free of charge to patients, and the information is not shared within the ‘cancer community.’
I see these things daily, when people find my own charities’ services almost by accident! “I never knew anything like this existed,” is what I hear. There are so many services out there like mine and it is time that healthcare organisations started to ‘look up’ and see what other people are offering and then sharing for the greater good! Improving life for people is not always about costing more money. Let’s see where the next six months take us!!
As always, above are my thoughts and experiences, please feel free to share yours below.
Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother.
Thinking of you through this difficult time.
ps: Happy belated birthday!
Great to hear from you, and thanks for your kind words. As you know at times life can become quite complex!
I hope all well with you and the family, maybe we can do Skype one day?
Very best to you all xxxx
Thank you as always Chris for your words I missed you when you were away but so pleased you and your wife enjoyed your cruise It is good to get away which I found good when we were back from Spain makes one feel uplifted. I have the cancer film on record I am afraid I watch it 20 mind at a time because memories I thought I had put on one side reimeraged I had not realized how ill I had been at the time I have put the next 2 on tape. I think the programe is very very good and for others thought provoking. Welcome home Chris keep well love Georgine x
Hi Georgine, thank you so much for your kind words. Yes I certainly feel lifted from my time away, and am ready for the next set of challenges. The programme was indeed powerful, and I can understand your reaction. I felt the same, it was just so real,and brought back all those memories. Very important to raise awareness of the issues in such a way. Big love to both of you, Chris
Happy belated birthday & glad you could enjoy your technology disconnect for atleast a few days xx i too am having issues sorting my mams house in uk while now fulltime in spain… I understand the anonymity comments… i used to hate being referred to as the child, the teen, the woman… with the heart condition, Spain has done for me wonders in my outlook, perception & warm weather has lifted mine & hubbys spirits… i have just finished six months of palliative care two wks on, two wks off and feel fulfilled in the role i was able to play, no matter how small xx im now focusing on part time bar work back in Spain and my photography … illness, grief, cancer, changes the people around you aswell as the person its happening to, for this i am actually grateful, as it has developed me into a more positive & understanding person ☀️ i have setup a facebook page.. Cancer Awareness & Events Europe feel free to share your posts to this page
Hi Bev, and thx so much for your kindness. It is hard to understand unless you have experienced it, and I know you have plenty of that! I totally understand the chages you guys have made to your life and sometimes I feel that maybe good for me, but it is quite a complex step with my illness now. So pleased you are beginning to find contentment, and i know what you mean by that. I also have changed quite dramatically over time. I will certainly take up your offer of posting on your page and please let me know if there is anything i can help you with. Best to you both in the sunshine smile emoticon:) xxx
Glad you had a great holiday Chris, carry on the good work please. x
Thx Alison, frustration kicks in quite frequently in this work, so whilst my health stays steady I will do my best to ensure that we get the services we require, as there is really no reason many of us can’t now, just because of poor communication and sharing of info. This must improve!