Unfortunately it has been quite a few weeks since I have been able to sit down and write a blog. Pressure for time has been extreme during November. Not really down to bad planning but many exciting events asking me to speak, unfortunately all coming within the same month. If I add the travelling into the mix, I have found it difficult at times, and this period ended with me being a guest speaker at a fabulous conference in Vienna, which was an incredible experience, but very physically and emotionally demanding. December is deliberately much quieter, and time to recuperate and build up my strength, for what will be another challenging year.
I am finding myself frequently torn between doing more speaking roles, and increasing my travelling, or taking my foot off the pedal and just going back to doing what I choose. My love for writing only started after I got sick, but it has helped me through some of my darkest times. More importantly it is helping many others across the world. When sitting in my hotel in Vienna it dawned on me that I wasn’t being selfish enough! Of course I enjoy every bit of my work, but my success so far has led to an increasing number of invitations. Most of these are incredible and may never come again, can you see my dilemma? My wife is probably the one who suffers most from this scenario. She has to deal with my ‘private face,’ and put me back together when I am physically and emotionally shattered.
This year I started writing a book, which will be a big part of my legacy, but due to my personal work and the growth of SimPal, starting was as far as I got! This is something that I must complete in the coming year, and we have now decided that my wife will run my personal diary etc. I will go to my London office to write, so there are no distractions, and my wife will decide how the rest of my time is used, being more sympathetic to our personal requirements! I can’t believe that I rarely sit down to listen to music, and feel like I have to squeeze my social life in between my cancer work.
I have always enjoyed proving myself in any field, and in my work it is no different. Now I am well know at conferences where I am speaking, even outside the UK. Not just by patients but clinicians too. I do countless videos and photos, and my work is known across the globe. Surely there is nothing left to prove to myself? But how satisfied would I really be, without a goal to chase? Probably not at all, but that is my personal challenge. Most of the time now I forget that I am a cancer patient, which is a great thing really, but my body doesn’t, even if my mind does. Old age is creeping in too! I tend to be moving with a younger audience, but I know that I can’t do what my brain requires. Rationing myself is the only answer, and fuelling up on what makes me happy.
With the extra time I have been given and the recent year of good health, I have gone crazy with engagements because I can. But now I am feeling the pace, and I can see that if I want my life to continue without too many problems I am going to have to be very disciplined, which is why my wife is now in charge of that side of things! For most of our lives we are not really kind enough to ourselves. Always working and comparing ourselves with others. Self analysing and focusing on what we are not doing rather than what we are. What we don’t have rather than what we do. I was no different to that, but quickly I have become 60+. No longer that wide eyed boy, frightened of the future. I am a grandfather, a house owner, and a pillar of my local community. Where did that time go? Did I do enough of what I wanted to do, probably not, but I have no excuse now!
It seemed I needed the dramatic intervention of cancer for me to fully recognise what a wonderful life I have. Now I am empowered, by the world and not in fear. I have every opportunity I have ever craved, and no excuses about time. Sure I don’t have the money that I planned but that is never the deciding factor with the things I do. Now I know I have to take some ‘me time’ and not get too bothered about what others are doing. My own treatment has been going on for ten years and I have been actively supporting people as an individual for six. At one time, just staying alive was my ambition, and still in my head I want to conquer the ‘cancer world’ and solve all the problems. Sadly I have just woken up to the fact that I will fail with that one!
Old age doesn’t just creep up on us, it is charging at us these days, so please be kind to yourselves, while you can. It’s great to have ambition, but don’t lose sight of what you have in front of you. There is nothing wrong in being satisfied with what you have and the person you are. I wrote this post two years ago, and I have just come back from talking at events in Manchester and Blackpool, so nothing has changed! Neither have I got any further with my book! Are you kind enough to yourself? Make sure you watch this incredible video, and please feel free to share your own comments below.
Hi Chris, I remember a colleague telling me, “Be kind to yourself,” when I had cancer. That was 2010. I’m 60 now and have been supporting other women through womb cancer since 2011, always around my job – evenings, weekends, holidays. Now I work four days a week instead of five to give me time for my womb cancer work and courses, as well as time to spend with my family and friends doing things I enjoy. Time is precious, may you have much more of it to enjoy! X
Hi Deb, of course I remember your history myself. You have done some incredible work alongside your own career which is a fantastic achievement in itself.I’m so pleased you are now able to take a day out where you can choose a little what you do. Once you help people on a regular basis it is very hard to take a backward step. Massive love to you XXX
A wonderful post.
Keep up the good work but only if it doesn’t interfere with your own health and happiness Chris,
Thank you Wendy! I have been fortunate during my working life that I have always loved what I do. For the last 30+ years I have worked for myself which probably helped!
Since doing my stuff in the cancer world, helping people has become my drug, and fortunately I get paid to travel and tell my story. This enables me to do my SimPal work. I still love every day, but the physical issues are becoming tougher.
Hope to see you soon, Chris
You’re writing is beautiful and so very honest…sending a big squeeze to you! Your words will impact so many but most importantly you…when you read this over again, it’ll be a great reminder to nudge you back in the direction of doing things for you xx
Cerrie, thank you so much for your lovely words! You are my guru in terms of work/life balance. I have always admired your dedication for taking time for yourself. It is a challenge for me because nothing can replace that feeling of helping people. It is like a drug for me!