Highs and Lol’s of Cancer — The Sequel
She’s back! And referring to herself in 3rd person for some reason. I really didn’t want to be back here writing to you all. Not because I didn’t throughly enjoy it, I really did. It is more because I realised I was a one trick pony and without cancer to write about, I didn’t really have any material to offer. Meaning, if I ever did find myself writing again then it could only mean one thing.
Now I should warn you all, this first instalment from me is being written from a Buddhist retreat in Devon so if I say anything extremely profound or deep then that would be why! It is a 6 day retreat and I am on day 2457. No sorry that’s how long it feels it’s been but it is actually day 2. So far it has been INTERESTING. Before I tell you more, let me explain more about what led me here.
As I am sure you all know, well maybe not everyone, we have kept a pretty low profile. Lol! On December the 10th I was told by our old pal Professor Whelan in his weird and wonderful way of delivering news (the wonderful part was just thrown in to be kind in case he ever reads this). My regular check up scans always include an MRI of the neck; original site of cancer and then a chest X-ray; common site for sarcoma to metastasise to/recur in. So we go in to his office, everything feels normal with him asking me how I’m doing and me replying with the usual ‘yeah god thanks, you?’ Then he tells me the MRI looks good and no changes there. Mum, Dad & Nancy all finally realise they’d been on an in breath for the last 4 minutes and finally let that out, causing professor Welans fringe to flutter. Nancy did a cute little clapping of the hands this time that she’d never done before. A sense of relief filled the room. He then says a few more things, shuffles about a few bits of paper and then out of bloody nowhere, BAM ‘chest X-ray however does not’! Woah hold on a minute there Prof, what happened to the good old etiquette of asking whether someone would like the good news first or the bad?? Maybe I wanted to hear the bad news first or at least be primed for the fact that there was bad news to come rather than being lulled in to a false sense of security with the MRI news as essentially with a bad chest x Ray result the good MRI was completely irrelevant.I mean thats not strictly true, no one wants cancer in the neck and the lungs but still, you get what I mean. He then sent me off for a CT scan which would be to determine if his suspicions were correct of recurrence of sarcoma on the lungs, we were to wait around and see him later in the afternoon. This meant a painful slow 3 hours wait, made only bearable by Sean and his ability to lift the mood with his comedic acts. Praying it was all a mistake whilst at the same time preparing ourselves for the worst. The night and subsequent days that followed shortly after were nothing short of horrific. There was only one thing that helped us through those initial days and I hate to break it to all the friends and family that visited in the immediate aftermath, it was not you. Wine. Say what you want about alcoholics but they are on to something there! It takes the edge of, numbs the pain, helps you to fall asleep if you drink enough of it and then in the morning when things are still just as bad, you know you still have something to look forward to, your first drink of the day!
It really was a dreadful few days, it just felt like pure darkness with no way out at all. I would wake up each morning and in a half conscious/ half asleep state genuinely be searching for something that made it possible to rewind time , even if it gave just another day of me not knowing this new news. Racking Einsteins brain in my dreams to see if there was a little formula he could throw together for me to make this happen but my hopes were futile.
I wont dwell too long in this short period of despair as I would hate to depress the life out of you so i’ll move on right after I tell you a funny short story which occured the morning after the dreaded day. We were staying at my mum and dads and when I went down in the morning, I went and sat with my mum and we cuddled, then my dad came down and joined and we all had a cry, then made a little small talk abut how each of us slept until we were all just sitting side by side staring at the TV, I hadn't even registered Good Moring Britain being on. I then decided to break the silence and I said ‘This is absolute hell isn’t it?” my dad genuinely replied by saying ‘What? Watching Piers Morgan?’ Ha no dad, right now he is a bloody trip to the Maldives.
Moving on. So I only indulged in alchholism for I think 3 maybe 4 days after which I cleaned up my act and took back control of the situation. Once we cried our hearts out and got over the initial shock it was time to pull ourselves together and start searching for answers. Luckily Nancy already had a spreadsheet prepared and was working on getting us an appointment at one of the worlds leading cancer centres in New York. Anyone who knows/follows Nancy on social media can vouch for the fact that there has been nothing half assed about this campaign. I think the most coined phase in the last couple of months has been ‘Everyone needs a Nancy’. It is true, go find yourself a Nancy and settle for nothing less.
It is hard to believe it has not even been 3 months since the news. We have been to New York and back, then to LA and have raised more than $1.5m dollars! I feel so incredibly lucky to have that kind of money behind me to persue any treatmeant options available to me. It is a huge weight off our shoulders and we are eternally grateful to every single person who has donated and put on fundraisers. It really is so comforting to have such a powerful sense of support like this.
As I wait for the drug in America to be made, I imagine someone in a caravan cooking it up as we speak. I have been doing a lot of reading and research and also found myself fortunate enough to be a patient of an absolute genius of a man who is on a mission to cure cancer withouth harsh poisons such as chemo and radio. He has his personal reasons for being so anti-conventional treatment and has me on a whole host of alternative medications. Some natural and some repurposed drugs. One of them is actually a dog deworming tablet. Yes, I take a high dosage of a medication used for dogs. Do I seem desperate at all? No side effects though which is great, just nobody say roll over around me as that gets a little embarassing and I do get yappy if I don’t get a treat.
In short, I am juicing all of the juice, eating all the spinach and kale, ruining our new home with turmeric powder on every surface and speckled on all the carpets. I am taking all the supplements and shoving Canabis oil in to any hole I can. Blend that with some canine A class and a drug called Antabuse, which is intended to treat alcoholics, and that right there is my anti-cancer cocktail. Ah Espresso Martini, I miss you.
So as you can probably imagine it has been a very hectic and overehelming couple of months and as I learnt more about the power of meditation and mind body connection I started looking into going to a retreat. The idea was that it would help me deepen my meditation practice and therefore helping aid my healing. Once i took the plunge and booked it, any doubts or fears I had about it went away with each day passing as the increasing feeling of needing a break came over me.
So here I am! What was I expecting from this retreat? Peace, quiet, a break from my cancer diagnosis and time to just completely relax and chill. What I was not expecting was to be sitting round a dining table at a morning meeting bloody crying my eyes out to 12 strangers about how emotionsl I felt! I mean come to think of it, I did not think there would be an AA style meeting every morning either but hey ho.
In hindsight, what I had in mind for this retreat would have been a form of running away from my problems, but in order to do that you need a distraction and a phoneless week on your own in a barn in devon with three 40 minute meditation sessions daily doesn’t provide much in way of those. So what I actually did was was run right into my problems and confronted lots of fears and feelings that I wasn’t expecting to run in to. So whilst that was not the plan, I think it may have been exactly what I needed. There is a a title of a book that I saw here in the library which resonated with this situation ‘Wherever you go there you are’. In other words, you cannot run away from your problems kids. Warned you it might get deep didn’t I? That’s as deep as it goes though for me and if I have learned anything about myself this week it is that I am about as deep as toddlers paddling pool compared to my fellow retreatants. They seem so deep with so much going on below the surface level. We were reflecting on one of our guided meditation sittings which the teacher had us all visualising a circle which we were standing at the centre of, the circle was of loving kindness. She then said out each of our names one by one and we would visualise them entering into the circle and extending our love and kindness to them, including ourselves when our names were called. The general reflection on this was people feeling anxious about their name being said as they didn't know whether they could extend the love to themselves or didn’t know how to be kind to their own self. I remember thinking as I visualised myself entering the circle ‘cute leggings hun’ and gave myself a quick squeeze. That is the depth of my mind right there folks.
I am on my last night now and it has been a really unique experience being here. There were moments that I felt really homesick and questioned why I had taken myself here at all when I could be at home with my loved ones but then there were some really special moments of mindfulness and clarity which made it all worth while. Plus an experience which feels so outside of your comfort zone is good for personal development.
I think that is all from me for now. What I really want is for eventually this to be a blog more aimed at other young people with cancer (sorry non cancer sufferers, you’re shit out of luck), sharing my inisghts and what not but I figured I should probably master it myself before I go dishing out advice on it. I don’t want to go counting my chickens before they’ve hatched so to speak, could end up mugging myself right off. In the meantime, ill just pop up as and when I feel I have something remotely interesting to say. Bear in mind I classified all the above as interesting, so that could provide a good benchmark for you to decide wheter or not to tune in next time.