I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who sat in the garden this week, soaking up the rays and admiring the daffodils that had flowered, at last. They seemed to have been ready for ages, but it’s only the last few days where they have burst into the open. When I planted them I thought I’d be a lot further down the road with treatment than I am, and I hadn’t anticipated the added complications of my cancer having spread in the way it has. Phrases like ‘distant metastases’ and ‘advanced cancer’ were just that, just phrases, items I didn’t need to click on those links on the various websites I had been looking at, researching the implications of bowel cancer. Now it’s a reality, even if the outward signs don’t indicate that to be the case. I caught my reflection in the window, acting almost like a mirror hidden in the shade. Perhaps it was the influence of the narcissi, but I couldn’t help but notice how well I was looking, tanned from the last few days in the sunshine, slim from the weight I’ve lost along the way. I laughed as I thought how content I was looking, and I am.
Bucket lists are becoming increasingly popular, almost obligatory regardless of how long you’ve got to live. Not that any of us know that, we’re just as likely to step under a bus tomorrow as we are to have our lives cut short by some horrible disease. You have to have a high and a low to achieve an average, and someone has to be at the bottom end, it would all be too predictable otherwise wouldn’t it. Imagine how regimented and unexciting your life would become if you knew when it was going to end. As for bucket lists, well for those tragic young patients who would never have the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, I think they are great, but for old codgers like me, I think if you have reached this stage and still have a mountain of things you wish you had done, then life hasn’t been much of a success. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great believer in living every day as if it’s your last, at times in my life I’ve done that to a great excess. Do the things you’ve always wanted to, but don’t have any regrets. I’ve mentioned before how I don’t feel scared or frightened about what is ahead of me, and I believe a large part of that is due to the contentment that I saw reflected in the window. I’ve been lucky enough to have found the love of my life, even if I was stupid enough to have lost it again. I’ve been lucky enough to have two wonderful kids whom I love to bits, even if I may not have been the best Dad n the world. I’ve had some terribly bad times, and fantastically good times. I’ve lived life on the very edge, but always managed to cling on and come back with the experience of having done it. I’ve made mistakes and bad judgements, I’ve had thrills and tear jerking experiences. I’ve met some amazing people, and quite a few dick heads too. I’ve made enemies of people who couldn’t be bothered to get to know me, and life long friends of people who didn’t need to get to know me. But regrets? No, it’s all part of life’s make up. You can’t have the good without the bad, the happy without the sad. So does all this mean I don’ have any ambition – hell does it. It’s just that my ambitions are more likely to be what others might consider tame. This year I’m going to two music festivals (yes I’ve added another one, and still might add a third) Green Man and Kendal Calling. Nothing makes me happier than sitting in a field with friends listening to good music. I might have to re-arrange a few things with my oncologist, but I’ll be there. And next year – well it’s Glastonbury, my spiritual home. I can’t ever imagine not being there, and those who know me understand just how important it is to me. OK so it’s not bungee jumping, it’s not paragliding through the grand canyon, scaling the Himalayas, skating with penguins or swimming with dolphins. I don’t have massive goals, life takes so many twists and turns, it can be disappointing to plot a route for the future. But whatever happens I’ll be content and with no regrets.
Monday I go into hospital, again. This time for surgery. To borrow a phrase, this is the end of the beginning. It’s been a long time coming, and at times it almost came too soon. I go into hospital with no guarantees or promises. I don’t even know what the outcome of the operation will be. I know what we’re hoping, but in truth nothing can be certain until operation is finished. Even then I’ll be waiting for more histopathology reports, although the fact that the cancer has already spread gives a good indication as to what these reports will conclude. Tuesday will see part one completed, the tumour in my bowel will be removed. I’ll then be passed on to the oncologist, another chemical bombardment of the cancer, this time to areas where it has spread. Then back to the surgical team to work on my liver. Tumours are present in five of the eight segments of my liver, so anything that chemotherapy can do to reduce these in either number or size can only be of help to the liver surgeon, and then there is the lung to consider. I don’t make things easy. You can see now why this is only the end of the beginning, I still have a long way to go on my cancer journey.
It was about this time last year that I began to think the symptoms I had been experiencing might not be quite as trivial as I first imagined. It still took me another three months before I saw my GP. April 2012 is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month . The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and to get people to act on their concerns, sooner rather than later. Early diagnosis is so important, and could mean the difference between a simple procedure resulting in a 100% cure, or advanced bowel cancer that I am now being treated for. My future is uncertain, make sure yours isn’t and don’t be an April Fool. Get everybody talking about bowel cancer and pledge your support here. www.beatingbowelcancer.org/bowel-movement It won’t cost you anything to show your friends and family that you care and are aware, but not doing so might just cost someone their life. So please add your name to the bowel movement now, and share it with everyone you know. Be aware, care and share.
Well that’s it from me for a while, it’s unlikely that I’ll be updating this for a few days at least, but I’ll try and tweet when I can and update my FB profile. I don’t know how long I’m going to be away, could be 4-5 days, could be 2-3 weeks, we’ll have to wait and see. Thanks you for all the messages and good wishes I’ve received over the last few days, it really does mean a lot. I’ll see you all on the other side.