Having lived so long beyond my ‘use-by date’ and retained ‘reasonable’ health considering my personal circumstances, even I had again begun to take my health for granted! I am surrounded by chorus’s of “take it easy, slow down, think of your health.” All advice given with every good intention. I know, I say it to others frequently! My body is now needing more physical rest than ever. Not only is it dealing with the cancer and side effects of treatment , but old age, which is something neither me or my medical team were concerned with at the time!
Throughout Christmas and January, I have had a virus that despite hospital intervention have struggled to clear. “Unfortunately it will take time Mr Lewis,” is what I hear frequently now, and I get that! But here’s the thing, resting is extremely bad for my mental health. I have made a decision to be less ‘visible’ this year and to avoid travelling too much. But the work I do is what actually keeps me going emotionally. It fills my mind with positivity, my oxygen comes from being able to help people!
Several years ago I made a decision to write a book! I want to ensure that my experiences will continue to help people long after I am gone. I did start to write it and then SimPal was created. Not only creating additional chapters, but changing my focus too! 3 years have gone past and the signs are there. Unless I focus on the things I need to do personally the gift of extra time I am currently enjoying, given will be gone. Without me doing some things I need to. Many people don’t get that gift, and in that way I consider myself blessed. Time to put things right, and do things that you have always wanted to.
So my diary remains relatively empty today. Time to spend with my grandchildren and friends, and do projects that fulfill me personally. My book is certainly one of those! There are of course some international conferences that I will be speaking at, and they require much preparation before, and follow ups afterwards. Probably a weeks work involved in each one! Through this I have become an internationally renown patient expert in stem-cell transplantation, and GvHD disease. Involving me meeting with many patients and clinicians from across the world. It is here that I can have a tremendous impact helping the next generation.
With the expansion of technology things are changing rapidly in the cancer sector. This has created an ever increasing divide of organisations that want to embrace it, or those that don’t understand how to use it therefore are afraid of it. Personally I cannot work without it and can see the incredible progress that patients and smaller organisations are making because of it. The result of this is that I have become known across the world, which would never have happened with our old ways of communication. The need to be ‘advertised’ by larger organisations is no longer! We now have our own voice and I’m pleased to be finally reaching the people that count!
Now I am being approached with some really incredibly innovative work where my unique skills can make a massive difference to lives. In one meeting this week, I was asked if I would like to help set up something that will create a legacy! They must have known! My life has been far from boring but in recent years, beyond helping people, I have struggled for some personal direction. Now I am clear what is right for me, this last month of difficult health has shown me that. I am now preparing a major presentation for the EBMT international conference in Madrid. Together with this I have been invited to write a piece for a large international health organisation about my work. This will be published across the globe as I will be speaking. Both of these things fit into my ‘legacy category!’
My life will still be about helping others but I want the best of both worlds. Continue to do it when I am gone too! For that to happen I need to fully focus myself for at least the next year or so. This will be a massive challenge for me as time is taking my memory, and focusing on a single thing for very long is like climbing Everest for me. But for all of my life I have faced up to tasks and I’m still smiling today. Health is the one factor that we cannot predict so I am going to hope that I will have enough time to get my book done, which is why I am starting again now!!
Do you ever think about legacy even if your health is good? As always, please feel free to share your own thoughts and views below!
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.