Wednesday, 9 November 2011


My thoughts haven't been my friends of late.This is a regular occurrence. I have negative thoughts. I tackle the problem. I'm OK and managing myself. I relax. I forget. I have negative thoughts and feel pessimistic and fearful. It's like the tides in the ocean and the pull of the moon. For me the pull is cancer. It's a regular thought which persists. The process can be likened to a labyrinth or a maze. You start out in pain and ignorance. Off you go on your journey, filling up on optimism as you near the centre, but then away the path curves and lo and behold back you arrive at the starting point - but not quite. And then on the path arcs, heading back to the centre, or a different edge,to different feelings before once more taking you back to the starting point - nearly. It's like a set dance where a pattern is traced on the floor. All the floor is covered, with the pattern eventually bringing you back to where you started. And then once more it pulls you back again for another turn around the floor. Another dance with my emotions.

Time has led to a certain complacency. I'm still here. Maybe it is just the tablets and implant that keep me well. Perhaps I can relax on the lifestyle challenges. But once the slip's made it's difficult to retrace back to the centre, back to the sweet spot where it's habit, or just how I live my life. I'm out at the edge - near my beginning - at the moment. Gained weight. Feeling stressed. Not focusing on my good health.

But it's just a phase. I touch bottom and then I'm off again on my journey.Back towards a clean and healthy body, back towards a calm and clear mind, back towards optimism and joy. The scan has shown no change and I'm washed with relief.

This is my dance, my journey, my challenge, and my adventure. I say to myself   "keep your chin up. Look Up.  Look Forwards. " It doesn't stop me seeing what my future may contain, but it does stop me from falling down entirely. I do keep my eyes on just the one step ahead. It's inevitable that sometimes you have to keep your focus small. But I do try to keep my eyes up and enjoy the view. It's the travelling that's important, not the destination. It's the view along the way. Not the final picture. It's the process more than the solution. Life's great tapestry is in the living now, not in the future which contains the ending. We don't read books and listen to stories to know the ending.  We like the story. Otherwise books would be two pages long. The first page, and the last. Where's the fun in that ?
It'll soon be the holidays and I'm shocked at how the time has flown since last year. I'm very lucky to get another year. Another Christmas, another Autumn and Winter, another season in the garden. It's important for me to acknowledge this. Acknowledge all the positives in my life  - and I do have a huge share of the great stuff in life ! It's important to stay grateful and amazed by what life offers. Don't take it for granted. That is my way back away from the fearful edges of life and back into the centre.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


I have just had the result from my scan and the verdict is that the cancer is still stable and that there's no change. I am relieved and restored to calmness. 

I was quite anxious this time - partly due to having gained weight. I have been told  things about what can happen in the future which make gaining weight around my tummy frightening. And losing weight can be equally frightening. A catch 22 of my mind. But as I have now been given more time and the reassurance that it's not the cancer growing I will take steps to lose the weight.

Did I mention I was anxious ? Of course I was. I think most people are anxious at scan time.  I practice meditation, and I do it regularly. But I thought that it wasn't working and that perhaps I wasn't actually meditating. ( My memory went to pieces ! ) But last night - having had the results yesterday morning  - I knew that I had been meditating, and that it had made a difference. I felt so much calmer last night. Clearly I had just become overwhelmed. I prepare myself for scans ahead of time. My oncologist asks me to remind him and request a scan when it's due. It ensures that I don't fall through any cracks. But on this occasion there was a breakdown in communication. I give him 3 weeks now to make arrangements. I don't like to give more in case I seem too eager, too demanding. But I've given less time in the past and I've had to wait longer. In itself that's not so bad, but I have worked out the timing so that scans don't fall around holiday times - summer and Christmas. Delays throw that careful management out of sync. This time my oncologist asked for a scan for three months hence. Horror ! I know logically that it means he's confident about me, but this 5 year mark has resonance with me. Add to that my weight gain ( I know most people think it's weight loss that's the problem. Perhaps I mean inches more than weight as I don't weigh myself ) and my diet slipping, and I got to a position where I wanted to know, and I wanted to know NOW !

It's a pity that I don't feel celebratory. I don't feel overjoyed, or lightened, or even happier. I can't at this point even say I truly feel relieved . I suppose that's because the scan confirms that the cancer is still there. But I don't feel numb. I don't feel pessimistic. I don't feel fatalistic. I feel calm. I feel quiet. I have peace of mind today. No fanfare. No drums. No celebration. Just a change in my ability to function, to look forward, to go about my business. And tremendous peace and calm after the turbulent and cacophonous internal storm of the past few weeks. It's been noisy in my mind. Full of apprehension and preparations for the worst.

I'm writing this so that next time I'll remember this anxiety and fear. So I'll know it's normal apprehension and not some internal "knowing" that some people think our bodies have access to ( like the idiot consultant at Harrogate for one !!! ) . One of the harder things about my cancer is knowing that I can't tell. That I won't be able to tell till things are pretty bad again. That there aren't telltale sensations in my body that can be picked up early. Though I suppose early is a relative term in cases of metastatic disease. And as there are so many forms that metastatic disease takes, my experience is different to anyone else's.

So today I am grateful. Grateful for the good news. Grateful for more time. Grateful for my health. Grateful that my life is still mine, that I can spend time with my family and friends. That I still have my Independence. That I can still enjoy the glorious days and this wonderful world. Grateful for everything that life implies - touch, taste, sight , smell, hearing, friendship and love, emotion and contentment. I am so just so grateful for time, for more time. Thank you Universe !!


It's scan time again. How rapidly they come around !  I had mine yesterday and what a gruelling time it is.  I felt like I was on my way to my execution yesterday morning. But on reflection it's not so much an execution as a trial. And now I'm waiting for the jurie's verdict.  Melodramatic it may sound. But it's very serious to me. It's akin to being on death row ( not that I have first hand experience of living on an American death row ) and waiting to hear how your appeal has gone. Has the governor pardoned me for another few months ?!!? It is melodramatic. It's the stuff of stories. But when you're living with the Sword of Damocles hanging over your belly I can assure you that at scan time it's not drama, it is deathly serious. Has the cancer awakened ? Have I roused it ?  Because I can't feel it,  and once I do I know it'll  be at a very advanced stage. Other organs will be involved. Vital organs. And I'm oblivious until I either have serious problems or a Very expensive, Very large, Very technological machine tells me so.

Everyone in the house is affected by it. I'm stressed. They're stressed. It comes out in different ways. But it does come out. I'm emotional. I'm terrified. I can't think straight. I have no working memory to speak of. Each time it feels worse than ever. Is that right , or is it just that, like childbirth, I forget how bad it was before ? The answer's not important because if you live in the present moment it's as bad as it gets in that instant. And today it's fairly bad.  I am very lucky to have survived to this point. And I'm grateful. Very grateful.  Unfortunately, defining survival at this stage is about looking back. I've survived so long. That's in the bag. That's safe. But the future is uncertain. There are no guarantees. I ask if there are others like myself who are living with metastases. I sometimes get the affirmative. Sometimes I don't. One thing's for sure, there aren't so many out there that are making themselves known. That frightens me for some reason. Yes, there are some. But I am always told that all cancer's are different. I know this. But it's used as an apology for there being so comparatively  few surviving with it.  And I gather that there's very little research money going into finding anything to help those with metastatic disease. How comforting. Even more reason to get irritated with all those adds appealing to you to give money to cancer research to "save lives ".  It's the metastatic stuff that kills you ! It's such an industry ! Going around Universities with my daughter I was struck by how many have cancer studies departments. This is a HUGE industry worth mega bucks, and not just in England, Britain, or North America, but worldwide. There's not going to be a cure anytime, anytime. Can you imagine what it would do to global economies if overnight so many people were made redundant and so many drugs were not sold, so many supplements, teas and potions were unnecessary, so many carers not needed , so many doctors and specialists no longer required. All that knowledge and experience obsolete.  It would be devastating economically. It's just not going to happen.  Clearly there's a very powerful disincentive to finding a cure for cancer ! God help us !!!!!

Anyway, just wanted to post about the fear - so that next time  ( if  I'm lucky enough to merely need another scan in a few months !! ) I'll remember that I'm terrified, petrified, paralysed, just not functioning - at all - like a rabbit in headlights. There aren't words for the gut wrenching distress that I feel at the prospect of my cancer awakening and the ordeal I will have to go through.  All my meditation and mindfulness induced calm desert me. Or perhaps I'd really be in a twitching, gibbering, drooling, trembling and shaking state without them. 

Fingers crossed for the result !!