So the long awaited festivities are over, and our lives will very soon be getting back to normal. It has been great catching up with friends and spending time with loved ones and as you are all aware, this season is a very poignant one now, as I celebrate the continued success of my Christmas stem cell transplant from 2007. The experience of my illness and continued treatment has taught me so much, but the most important lesson has been the value of time. Aside of treatment I spend my time doing things I choose to do and catching up with people I want to, rather than do what I previously had to for work. There is now a strange feeling of ‘liberation’ about how I live. When I received my terrible diagnosis it seemed to trigger something in my brain that totally changed the way I viewed life. Work was a massive part of me, but given my ability to do that was taken from me I decided that my life must be used positively.
My cancer work has given me the purpose I crave, but the delight is I am able to fit that around everything else, unlike fitting my social life round my work as previously. Everyday is like a weekend, and of course I no longer feel the urge to go crazy and reward myself for my hard work. Dinners out and time with loved ones is much more frequent, and I now see my grandchildren more than I saw my own boys, as I realise what I missed out on the first time round. When I was working I was delighted to have a couple of weeks off, but if I’m honest a few days is adequate now, as I look forward to the challenges that the new year will bring.
I still do business lunches but at my leisure, and meeting people I want to meet. My time is very much in demand from people who want to use my experience in some way to benefit their own projects, which I am delighted to help where I can, but I am still amazed how many people want things for nothing. They seem genuinely surprised when I ask them how they can help me? In a lot of cases I’m not even talking money, just maybe sharing my website details in their own community. Even on Twitter/Facebook where people constantly ask me to share their work, when many don’t even follow or those that do have never shared my weekly blogs ever! After all my years of learning in the ‘cancer world,’ I feel I am well prepared for the exciting projects I have in front of me for 2016. Working with people who also have a genuine desire to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Having now met thousands of people in this sector, I can very quickly sort the givers from the takers!
The irony I see here is that I was becoming a prisoner to my situation, but the fact that there was nothing left to lose by totally changing my life, has eventually given me the confidence to live the life that I choose, although within much stricter boundaries both health wise and financially. Don’t get me wrong, it was not an immediate ‘nirvana.’ With struggling health, no life can be considered good, but I have got used to that side of things. Lacking a steady income of course proves difficult, but again we have altered our life accordingly. Being around the house and hospital so frequently has taken a great adjustment for both me and my wife also, but we are managing that well now.
For me 2016 will start with real excitement and optimism! My health is a major factor in what I will be able to do but I now rarely consider it, because it is out of my control and puts my brain automatically into negative mode. My new projects will enable me to make a difference around the world and help put my work into the mainstream. When I started doing this, I knew there were many gaps but I hadn’t realised the impact that we are having on so many people,receiving many messages daily. There is so much more to do and with some great people helping me now, we can reach out in very different ways too!
People continually ask me what plan I had when I started, and with my prognosis I had very little need for one! My answer now is to reach as many people as I can, but just as in my business life, when I thought I was running out of ideas, someone comes into my life who opens another door for me. Now I have a ‘direction of travel’ without a specific ‘route.’ With so many factors out of my control I am learning to enjoy the unpredictability of my life, waking up not knowing what the next call or mail may bring. When I came out of hospital in such poor shape I could never have imagined the things I would be doing now. Being able to help so many people affected by cancer, not just in the UK but around the world, is a fabulous feeling. But things move very quickly now, and to be invited to be part of some incredibly innovative work in the near future is a great privilege.
I appreciate how lucky I have been, given the complexities of my disease. Initially I thought I was becoming a prisoner of it, but with some fabulous long term support from my wife and clinicians I now feel empowered to do some things I want to try. Enjoying more risk taking and boundary pushing, which made me successful in my business. Standing still is moving in reverse in my world so I am continually looking for new ways to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Personally I can’t wait to start 2016!
What are your hopes for the New Year? Maybe you are facing some tough challenges? Please feel free to share your thoughts, hopes and aspirations below.
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