Since my diagnosis, back in 2007, and despite my efforts to the contrary,cancer has dominated my social life. Sure, it has been my crusade of choice,to spend most of my time, being involved somewhere, trying to improve peoples lives. So much so, that I spend my time at home, writing about it too!
I am extremely lucky, that my wife and family are fully supportive of my work.They understand, that I have always been a highly motivated person, and that despite the handicaps my illness has placed on me, I am determined to do what I can. If I am honest with myself, there are times that I have let things totally consume me, which is absolutely emotionally draining, but I would like to think that I am more disciplined now.
This blog has become the perfect medium for me. As my tough regime of treatment goes into it’s second year, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to give as much physically, and emotionally, as I have before.I now need to step away at times and catch my breath.On some occasions this can be tough, as now,people are aware of my work, and with the audience of my blog, a lot of people are in touch, wanting different things.I have to say that I find it very difficult to ‘ration my passion’.
My work is the easiest area to control I guess.I either get involved in something or I say no! However, how can you say no, when you have an opportunity to hopefully improve someones life? My selection process has become easier over the years.Initially, I wanted to take most opportunities, as I needed to gain a reputation, and experience.Having had five years of doing that, I have served my ‘cancer apprenticeship’, and am qualified to be able to choose what I do.
I have become selfish with my skills and experience,as there are too many ‘takers’ out there. I have seen too many long term projects, go nowhere, and spent ages in meetings which turned out to be just another tick box exercise, for the organisation concerned. I now know, what is going to make a more immediate improvement to peoples lives, and will concentrate in those areas.I am finding tremendous satisfaction from working with more personal organisations where I can really make a difference. Also working with, like minded people, on social media, campaigning in various ways to improve things in the cancer sector.
The area that I can’t control, and is the difficult one, is my social life.Where ever I go, and whatever we do, the subject of my health is raised. I’m sure at times my wife must be thinking, ‘here we go again’. People are very polite and ask with genuine interest, particularly if we haven’t seen them for some time, but then the subject of cancer dominates! In a lot of cases, friends of friends have been diagnosed, and will be asking some advice.It really is tricky, and I can see both sides of the coin. If they don’t ask, we might think that strange, but if they do, here we go again!
Medically, my case is a very unique one, and there is someone at hospital writing a case study on it, but I am very conscious that when people see me these days, almost in any environment, people seem to know who I am, and are intrigued by my health stories.I really enjoy going to social functions, where I know very few people, until, ‘what do you do for a living’, crops up. I now answer, that I have retired, hoping to close the door on that, but then people are interested in what I did, so that I could retire so young!
People seem to find my cancer story interesting, and are surprised at the number of things I do, ‘considering my illness’. It is very difficult for people to see me as anything other than that guy who has cancer.Mind you, there are also times I find it difficult too.! I guess I am living a new life, and this is part of it.
Do you feel that you are defined by your illness? I have got used to it now but do you find it an issue? Drop me a comment and let me know how you feel.
I would like to dedicate this post to Megan Fletcher, who was the inspiration behind MNINC which is a wonderful website run by Megan’s mum Fiona, and her team.It is very unique and I recommend that you check it out!