This week I received the news that one of my very inspirational social media friends had tragically passed away. Unfortunately in the world I now live, death is a much more common occurrence for me than it was. I have become used to forming bonds, only for nature to come and break them in such an untimely manner. Losing Chris Gelken, was a massive blow to all of us, who’s life he touched.
He spent his recent times, trying to improve the lives of people affected by cancer around the world, particularly in areas that are struggling for knowledge and expertise. Using his own unique talents to break down cultural divides for the common good.
I was contacted by Chris who commented on a piece I had written for my blog. He had a fabulous sense of humour and we clicked immediately. Very quickly it became obvious that we wanted the same things. We shared content and smiles with our connection, and continued until the end. When I read the below piece on Facebook, I realised that Chris had created a legacy, to be shared in his absence. I asked his permission to share through my blog, and he encouraged me to write a piece.
I have used quotes from both Chris and Chris’s wife, all incredibly moving! We all deal with things differently but you can see that even in times of such personal trauma his main thoughts are for others.
Cancer has enrolled me into a new life, where quite frankly I struggle to see many positives. But the one that is most obvious for me, has been the people I meet, either in person, or ‘virtually.’ They have, and continue to inspire me daily. If it wasn’t for meeting people like Chris I don’t know what I would have done in this part of my life.
I hope I have done you justice my friend, although words can never be enough. Be assured that I have picked up one of the batons you have left, to hopefully continue our work against this relentless disease.
“It has been quite a day. Emotional at times, frequently just numb with disappointment, and spiritually reaffirming at others. The kind words of many of our friends has been inspirational.Why?
A scan yesterday revealed the cancer has spread to my brain. Two tumours, both quite small – 9 & 7 millimetres. In many ways I am lucky. It was only with my wife’s persistence that we got the scan. Thanks to her we are still talking in terms of treatment, and not “go home, there is nothing else we can do”.
On a somewhat more upbeat note, we are moving ahead with our plans to create an awareness and motivational video for the Cancer Society of France. We’ve discussed this with their representatives, and after some consideration, today they suggested we meet their full board of directors to take the project to the next level.
To their credit, the CSF folks were worried that making their video would impact on another project we have in the works to make a series of videos about childhood cancer in the developing world – or countries in a challenging situation. We have received positive feedback from our contacts in Gaza and Uganda that the projects are feasible, and I am working on a ‘pitch’ to TV stations in a bid to raise funds.
I may not be strong enough to carry a camera and professional tripod myself, but I can still produce, organize the filming, and sit back in awe as my wife works her magic as an editor (lovely girl will also be principal camera too..)
There’s so much to live for. Of course I am sad, I am disappointed, and yes, I am scared. But as I lay down to sleep tonight, I can honestly say I will feel more motivated than mortified. Despite being diagnosed stage 4 in July 2013, in many ways – at least for me – the real battle begins today, 26 February, 2014. I plan to share more, blog more frequently, and hopefully bring a little hope and light humour to friends and fellow cancer sufferers.
I pray that you will stay with me and draw something positive from this journey. In gratitude for your kindness and support,”
“This is the photo I took days before my husband partially lost his hair to the whole brain radiation. I think his hair is as stubborn as him. It fought through 7 rounds of chemo and 10 sessions of whole brain radiation, and is still refusing to be wiped out completely. A toast to Chris’ hair – for this tough battle that we’ve been fighting together”