Tag Archive: cancer


Within the last couple of weeks, I have discovered something that I thought was true, but now I have experienced it, I know it to be true.
Six months ago I was diagnosed as having testicular cancer. Thankfully this was caught early and after having the offending anatomical item removed and analysed , I was told that I was in the 5% to 10% bracket of not having to do anything else.
Great news!
However, this was not to be true. Four months later I got the call that a CT scan showed that three lymph nodes in typical positions for the spread of this cancer were a little enlarged and I was going to have to go through a course of chemotherapy.

After following the sad demise of a friend who suffered from a far more aggressive form of cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma), and her experience of chemotherapy, I was more than a little anxious as to how bad this experience was going to be.
The course I was put on was a nine week course of three lots of three week cycles, back to back, with the chemotherapy drugs known as BEP. The first five days of each three week cycle was as an in-patient, then on day’s nine and sixteen I would go in for a top-up of one of the chemo drugs in particular.
After the first cycle I went home and felt a little under the weather, but to be honest it wasn’t anything more than the feeling of contracting a heavy cold for a few days. I was still able to function and think and do all the usual day-to-day tasks, just without the energy to do any physical activity.
Not too bad.
The second cycle was a little heavier, and so when I came home on day five I went straight to bed with a low level of energy, then was pretty incapable of anything useful for a couple of days after that. By day nine I was feeling a lot more alive and able to do most things slowly.

However, the ‘something I discovered’ that I speak of in the first line was learned after coming out of the third cycle (and I’m still in it at the moment – I’m typing this at day ten).
Until last night – day nine – my energy level has been so low that even sitting up was an immense effort. To walk would require something to hold onto every ten metres or so. Even just standing was so exhausting I couldn’t do it for any longer than a couple of minutes.
For a person who is used to leading an active life, I found this complete physical inability emotionally and spiritually draining. Being dragged down so low and not being able to do anything was quite possibly the worst experience of my life. It was like the essence of me had been removed… it was quite literally draining my life–force from me.

…and this is where the lesson was learned…

Something so important to my life… my feeling of purpose… my method of achieving self-worth and accomplishment… the ability to be physically active… having had it so completely removed allowed me to see that that ability is the very essence of what makes my life worth living. The loss of it is something that I NEVER want to experience again.

If life is most profoundly experienced by doing that which makes the spirit soar,
then death is to have that ability removed from ones being, and mere existence is all that is left.

For the rest of my life I vow to be active to whatever degree my body allows… because if I am not, then I am already dead!

The new battle

And so, it begins…

“The end is nigh!” they cry
for anyone caught by cancer’s snare.
Lie down, accept it, there’s nothing you can do.
Cancer’s got you, it doesn’t give a care.

I look on, incredulous, eyebrows raised high,
as the multitudes simply accept nature’s cruel gift,
…it must be accepted, cannot be denied.

The end is nigh? What tosh!
Cancer, you showed up early, announced yourself,
what hope do you really think you’ve got!?

I’ve spent 10 years waiting for you, preparing my mind, pacing the floor,
just in case you should decide to come knocking on my door,
and you know what, I’m almost pleased that you’re here.
Ha ha! Oh yes! I like a challenge I do, a battle, a just fight.
And you’re taking me on? You’re going for my life?!

Well have I got news for you sonny Jim.
I’ve got strength like you wouldn’t believe.
I’m a black belt in self belief,
with friends and family that’ll prop me back up when I fall,
to dust me down and push me back into the ring.

I’ve got all that… and what have you got, eh?
What have you got?
What. Have. You. Got.

In relation to yesterday’s post (see here), there is another point that I choose to believe is true (I say ‘choose’ quite simply because there is no way of proving it true, but my observations and experiences suggest to me that it is true…).
My friend of the previous post, and I used to train together as teenagers as part of the local Track and Field team. Some of the winter training was pretty tough, well certainly for the age we were at, and I have distinct memories of the expression on her face when she was gritting her teeth, fighting hard against fatigue and the effects of lactic acid flooding the muscles… showing way back then the characteristics that are helping her today.

Since those days, I have continued to train in various disciplines, but for the last 16 years it has been in traditional Martial Arts.
Being constantly active, and being forever surrounded by the same type of people, I have seen some of them grow old, but never really suffer much from illness, and those few that have, seem to have the presence of mind to attack their illness like it is just another hard training session; i.e. something to grit your teeth against; something to fight against, and most importantly, something to overcome!

Similarly, it seems that my distant friend has also continued to train in one way or another over the years, and before she was diagnosed with cancer, she was training hard in Crossfit, and taking part in daft events like Tough Mudder’s.

In the light of what she is going through, but more importantly, how she is handling it, it further reinforces my belief that those who take part in tough physical training; tough enough that it also becomes mental training through having to develop the will to overcome the body’s desire to rest; will be those who are best equipped to deal with the worst that life has to throw at them.

I believe that something grows within those who regularly fight the little battles by choice, something that enables them to find the will-power to overcome the bigger battles likely to come later in life.

So… my advice to those of you who enjoy sitting back and watching the soaps on TV a lot more often than stepping up and staying active, is quite simply – you need to make a decision as to whether you would regret the easy, fun life when a bigger, unavoidable battle comes along.

Read this [The old man in me], and think hard, then make your chosen future happen!

There is a friend of mine (not yet 40 years old) that is currently fighting the battle of her life against a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
In doing so, she is proving to be one of life’s special people in that she has instinctively turned to face it head on and obviously has no intention of backing down!

I haven’t seen her for over 20 years, but through the wonders of Facebook, have fairly recently got back in contact… even though she is now the other side of the world!
In her own inimitable fashion, she feeds her Facebook friends with regular updates on her condition and progress, and in doing so has revealed her true colours… and incredible colours they are!
As much as it was nice to get back in contact with her, I’m am now so glad that I did as she is proving to be the sort of person I admire the most – she has what I consider to be a warrior nature – a willingness to fight for what is right, with an unremitting strength of spirit that simply doesn’t know how to give up! – and I now feel honoured to know her.

So many of her friends regularly reply to her updates by saying how amazing she is, how inspirational, and what a fantastic attitude she has toward beating the illness.
One of her replies was to say thanks for the comments, but really she’s just getting on with it, that there’s nothing special about her, and that anyone would be able to do it.

But that’s just it, isn’t it.
She is the only one in the wrong position to see what’s see’s doing. She is the only one inside the cocoon of the illness, all others are outside looking in. I don’t think she realises what this illness has brought out in her. Inversely to the debilitating effect of the cancer and the treatments, it has made her shine so brightly that her positivity is almost blinding. It is truly awe-inspiring.
If she was right that anyone could do it, then people wouldn’t react in less positive ways than she is, people wouldn’t give up, everyone would have that ability to soldier on regardless… but her friends are seeing something different to the norm, they are seeing something greater… and that, of course, is what they are astounded by.
She has unwittingly become a leader to her friends, a leader by example, an inspiring person, and one that makes the greatest of leaders.

At the risk of losing the last remnants of my manliness, I’ll admit to being in tears as I type this, but not through sadness of her suffering, emotional weakness of my own, or any other such anti-masculine reason, but through some kind of resonance I feel that makes me smile and feel so alive and good when I encounter people like this lady, and hear of their experiences that to me, epitomise the very essence of life.

No matter what;, today is a good day… some other days may be even better, but rain or shine, if I’m breathing, then every day is a good day!

I hope that if I ever have to fight a big battle that could cost me my life, that I’ll be able to show the same strength of character as my friend… and I hope I can be even partially as inspirational as her.