There are many days when I find it hard to maintain my energy and enthusiasm. Feeling so tired and dealing with constant viruses whilst trying to continue my work can be extremely challenging, but there are two things that keep me going. The first is that after so many years I can see the impact my work is having for other people affected by cancer. Secondly despite all the medical advice I have read and heard, I do believe that there will come a time when I won’t require any clinical help. I am aware that this defies all logic, but so do many of the positive things that have happened and continue to happen to me as my work progresses, so I’m starting to believe that anything is possible!
Hope is something I never lost at any stage, it is something I have always had even when I was a young lad, and has helped guide me through life’s choppy waters. During my early years, there were many what I considered to be life changing moments, but there was only really one, which was meeting my wife! I know now that all the others were just twists and turns in a normal life that happen to most of us at some stage. I thought I was set for a relatively routine life with children, grandchildren and pension schemes, until cancer reared its ugly head. Now that really is life changing!! Despite all the stuff I was hearing, I really did believe that I could get back to living a normal life and working as I did before, logic never came into my thinking really. Then after surviving such aggressive treatment I was continually sick, with particularly my lungs and liver at risk of failure. Even at this stage I never lost hope.
After 8 years of pretty much constant treatment for an incurable disease and the after effects of it, I am now only on medication to control things. Naturally there are still issues to deal with, but minor in comparison to previous experiences. Although I am very much a different person now, this is certainly better than I could have hoped for. I have lost a lot in this period, including much of my memory, and I certainly struggle to recall parts of my life before cancer. Within the confines of a family man, I was carefree, loving my work with enough money not to have to worry too much about my future. But life has shown me what really is important, and our constant chase for money and possessions definitely isn’t.
When starting my cancer support journey I had always hoped that people would take me seriously, despite having no real plan. Although things seem to have taken their time, my work has gone much better than I could ever imagine. I give as much to this role as I can, but I have received so much in return, in terms of satisfaction from helping people. So at this stage I can say I am grateful for being here and what positive things life has given me. To see my children fulfil their ambitions and dreams, and see my grandchildren start to do the same is an incredible feeling for me.
I realise that hope is what has driven me to be the person I am, and according to my medical people my positivity has helped me through the bad times. But given the importance of it, is hope something that everyone has, are you born with it, or just acquire it as you live your life? Most people I have met do have it, but I have also met many that lost it too. What I do enjoy about my work is that my own case can give hope to others, and I am constantly contacted from around the world by people with a similar diagnosis to my own, who can see the life I am able to lead now. Nowhere was that more poignant than at my own hospital where I was giving a presentation about Stem Cell Transplants. In the audience was a man who had just been diagnosed with my disease and had come to meet me and find out more.
For myself I no longer have any great expectations, and am happy to be able to play my part as a husband, father, grandfather and friend for as long as nature will allow. The reality is that I will always be on alert because of my disease and I will be frequently tested at the hospital so there is no escape mentally. I suppose my one main hope is that my experience has not been wasted, and being able to share with others around the world has meant that many patients and professionals are learning from it, to hopefully improve things for people following me. I have seen massive steps in progress for treatment of my disease, despite it being a rare cancer, and although slower than I would like I can see progress in the cancer support sector too.
As I have talked about above, hope has been absolutely key to helping me throughout my life and continues to today. How important has that emotion been for you? Please feel free to share your views and experiences below.
I would also like to thank everyone that voted for this blog in the UK Blog Awards, we have now made it to the final 10!
Thanks Chris I needed that today x
Thx Abi, I needed to remind myself too after all the recent public bad news. Hope is what drives me on. Big X 4 u
while reading this i am working as live in carer for a lady with terminal cancer. As Chris knows I lost my mam to cancer last March. I have had open heart surgery twice,mlots of life experiences of things no child or teen should experience but this has made be aware, strong, empathetic and yes full of hope… with recent news of Terry Wogan passing this AM… we could dispair and give up… dont keep fighting to enjoy even the smallest of smiles, laughs and life experiences. Tell your loved ones you care and do things today! not tomorrow. These things have inspired me to setup Cancer Awareness and Events Europe group on facebook, feel free to contact me and share xx also im following my dream of setting up as a photographer and I want to do a Uk and Spain photoshoot of cancer sufferers and survivors alike if anyone would be interested big hugs Chris, keep up the good work xx Beverly aka Bevsdigitalart
Hi Bev, thanks for sharing your incredibly personal experiences so openly, which is what we are all about on here. I love the fact that you have been inspired through your own issues, to try and help others, turning the negatives into something positive.
I’m sure, like myself many of the readers will be interested in your new work, so please make sure you keep us up to date with it.
Big hugs returned, Chris xx
Brilliant read Chris, I always like to believe that hope sometimes gets us to places we never dared dream possible. Good luck with the blog awards!
Thx Susan, so glad u enjoyed the piece. I have always believed that, and in my life before cancer I was doing it through my work. Then I got sick and totally lost my way,however slowly but surely I am beginning to dream again! Yes the awards will be interesting 🙂
Great post Chris! Congrats too on being in the final ten for the blog awards
Thx so much Emma!
Having cancer taught me to look for the positives, no matter how small they might be. Hope is so important, thank you for sharing. Deb xx
I didn’t realise I was such a positive person until I went through AML & SCT. Apparently others knew I was!
Hope & positivity are the lights at the end of that dark tunnel of fear & trepidation.
7 & 1/2 yrs on & apart from 6 monthly check ups & a handful of tablets morning & evening, life is now back to that unknown ‘NORMAL’. What everyone facing a SCT wants to attain & us terrified that they may end up with a different type of normal.
I only wanted to survive to see my family grow up & develop their own lives, my son has graduated, met a lovely girl & bought their first house. My daughter has become a very proficient PA & now feels confident enough to go to Australa on her own with a working visa. This is a major thing as she definitely had separation anxiety & was always worried about me. My husband was by my side throughout my struggle & is still by my side now.
So now everyone has a far more positive outlook with hope in their hearts.
Me, well I’m going to prove them all wrong & live to 93, like my great grandmother!
Love to you xx
PS I’m the mad woman who came up in tears after you gave your closing speech at the Macmillan Cancervoices Conference @ Gatwick a couple of years ago. The one who was so glad to meet a survivor & gave you a great big hug.
Hi Christine, it’s so lovely to hear from you. I never thought you were a mad woman, but it was a very emotional ending to the conference!
Things sound so very positive for you and your family, I am absolutely thrilled. Yes, it’s a wonderful thing to live and watch our children grow up, when we didn’t expect to. I have seen grandchildren too, incredible really!
We have both had some incredible positives from our experiences and that is why I have hope that there will be many more.
Thank you for making my day! xx
I do not have to say anything HOPE is the first and last word thanks Chris
Tu as always for your support Georgine xxx
Tu as always for your support Georgine xxx
Good luck Chris, i really really hope you win, you deserve it, and carry on doing your most valuable work please. x
Thx so much Alison! Would be incredible to win it again, but great to even get to the final. This work is tiring but so much emotional reward which is what drives me on. Ur support is much appreciated xx
It is amazing where our cancer journy may lead… Good luck in the finals.. Well deserved…
Indeed Helen, who knows? Appreciate the kind wishes, and it would certainly be fabulous to win the award again, but tough competition!