My name is not cancer!

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!

The Grove Hotel Bournemouth

I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions. 

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi chris,

    I saw the link to your blog and was really interested and inspired by what you have to say and how motivated you have been to make a difference which is brilliant. You have clearly used your experiences to the benefit of others and have been totally selfless with what you do, we need more people like you in the world. I too have been touched by cancer, having been diagnosed at 31 with cervical cancer and having to have surgery to treat it. Fortunately I am now cancer free but like you have been defined by firstly the illness and now childlessness. Like you I am highly motivated and dealt with my cancer by raising money for Macmillan by running, walking up mountains and generally doing silly things (I haven’t met any celebs though!) I’ve thrived off the passion and drive it has given me and although emotionally draining sometimes I know I am making a difference to people’s lives. People often say ‘you’re so positive, full of energy, how do you not let it get you down?’ I always reply; you only get one chance on this earth and sitting around dwelling or doing nothing is not going to make what’s happened go away and not going to make you happy. I think you are testament to that. Now my identify is as the childless friend, daughter, colleague I do find it hard but we are in the process of adopting and I know I will make a better mum because of what I have been through, I will hopefully change some children’s lives and I am not just going through the motions of life, I am living every minute of every day. I think you are amazing and you have spurred me on to do a bit more talking to help others as I certainly have the skill. I’m taking a rest from fundraising for a few months after the London marathon earlier this year but you are an inspiration and deserve all the praise you get. Good luck with your future ventures and dreams. Nicole Folbigg

  2. Hi Nicole
    Firstly I would like to thank you for sharing your incredible story.People like you are the very reason, that I started this blog. I wanted to find a different way to get the message to more people, and the world of social media is helping me do that.

    Your observation is so true, that life can be emotionally draining, particularly with the issues that you are dealing with, and we are both similarly proactive rather than reactive.I found hidden depths of strength when I really needed it, and life has a strange way of helping you deal with certain situations.

    Many things happen in our lives, which we would not necessarily choose, but it is how we deal with them, that makes us who we are.Like you, my cancer diagnosis, took away my future life plans, but it has given me many things I would never have had, and my life runs in a very different direction now. In many ways I feel I am a much better person.

    I sincerely hope that life starts paying you back, as best it can.I am sure that your attitude is already changing lives, even if you don’t realise it! I can also see that you will get the opportunity you crave of being a brilliant mum,because you will make it happen.

    I found your comments very personally moving, and I thank you for them.One of the reasons I love this blog, is that it really is an open house, and I know that all our readers will empathise with your story. Please pop back soon, and I wish you everything you deserve and more!

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