As I have mentioned before I like to use the festive period as a time for reflection. A quiet time when I can review the past year, what was good and what wasn’t, and what I might like to do with my time going forward. This will be the first time, I have little physical treatment in front of me, although I do have issues caused from the regular treatment, such as problems with my eyes and some dental work required, so I will still have much to do, to get myself in working order! 2014 was my busiest year yet, and I was invited to do numerous key health presentations, both national and international, and I went to many important meetings to discuss how we can improve things for people affected by cancer.
For most of us, Christmas is a particularly emotional time. An opportunity to spend time with friends and family and away from work and the things that keep us busy during the year. Personally, I have always used this time for reflection, but since 2007 it has a very special significance. It was then that I received a gift, like no other, the gift of life! My stem cell transplant took place on the 19th December and is a time I will never forget. This treatment was my only chance of surviving my cancer, and the cells had been donated by a young man aged 22 from London. No one could say if I would even survive the process let alone continue to live, but I did, and I am!
As many of you may know, this week I finished three years of fortnightly sessions to have my blood treated. This involved being plugged into a machine for up to four hours on two consecutive days. It was very time consuming and tiring but like everything else that has happened since my diagnosis you have to readjust and deal with it. When I started, no one was really sure if the treatment would even work, and if it did, how long it would take, and there is also a combination of medication that I have to take with it, so things are quite complex. I find a lot of this quite ironic really because when I was diagnosed, it was suspected that my cancer may kill me. I was offered a
This week’s post is prompted by two very different communications I have had recently. The first was with a friend of mine in America, ( Rick Boulay) who is an oncologist and sent me a copy of a recent presentation he did, talking about how the emotion of fear can in fact inhibit our recovery. This is something I have always been aware of, but when I listened to the presentation there was such clear medical evidence as to why this is so, and it felt very credible coming from a senior clinician in this way. But secondly and probably more impactful, I met a man who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, had surgery and been given the ‘all clear,’ but psychologically felt unable to resume his life. He had taken
There are times, when I struggle to believe my own life now. Since cancer took over, I have a totally new way of living, planning very little and seeing what life throws at me next, and it is not all bad either! Of course my health is not good but I have been able to paper over those cracks, with the support work and writing that I do. Several years ago, when it was suggested that I write a blog, I was sceptical. Who would read it and what would I get out of it? Now it dominates my life, wherever I go people ask me about it, and on social media it is shared frequently. I am now contacted daily by people who want to know more about what
Last week I asked the question “What is ‘living well’ after cancer? and I got many responses from people who were obviously finding it extremely hard to do just that, after a cancer diagnosis. One of the biggest reasons we struggle, is the financial impact that cancer can have on our lives. This has had a massive effect in my own life, but I am contacted almost daily with people having problems either maintaining their current work, or finding employment of any description that fits their new needs. It is not just the financial element of work that it is important, but the feeling of self worth, that comes with regular employment, being part of a team, and contributing to something. But think of this situation logically for a moment, dealing
This week I have been invited to write a piece to coincide with the ‘It’s Time To Choose’ campaign that Macmillan Cancer Support are currently running. It is designed to make improving cancer services a priority at the next election, and given the fact that by 2016 there will be a thousand people diagnosed daily, this is something that is important for all of us! All the aspects of the campaign are important, but I have chosen to focus on ‘Living Well.’ Back in 2007 when I was originally diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer, it was then more about just staying alive. My prognosis was poor, and I was originally given only six months to live. However I was given a successful stem cell transplant and although still very sick for some
I have spent the last six years, making a lot of ‘noise’ about cancer and it’s issues. It has been a mentally and physically demanding time, and on reflection I don’t know how I have managed to do all the things I have. If I was in perfect health I would consider it a great achievement, but you see there is my problem! Where my cancer support work is involved, I seem to have a ‘blackout’ about my own health problems. I can only remember the really healthy guy that I used to be before my illness. My wife and clinicians are constantly reminding me that I need to be careful, and less generous with my time, but of course, I rarely listen and when the opportunity to help someone