Great to hear you've come out the other side with such a positive outcome and attitude. I know exactly what you mean about coming to terms with where you are and what might happen next.
The ultimate reality that I came to understand was that we are all headed in the same direction. It just would have been a shame if that was the end. Still lots of living to do.
That's my zen thought for the day.
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I was the manager of a small business in country Victoria when I was diagnosed. It was very difficult to discuss as I was still coming to terms with it myself but I sat down with the owners of the business and laid it on the table.
They simply and unconditionally told me to not worry about anything and to just get better. This I must say was one of the most selfless acts I have ever witnessed and I will never forget their kindness and generosity.
I worked through my 3 months of chemo taking a few days at the end of each cycle to recover. I have to admit that by the end I was not productive at all and suffered badly from chemo brain. (some funny stories about this but maybe another time)
I didn't tell the other staff until I was almost one month into treatment as work gave me a place to feel normal. No one looked at me with pity and I could forget at least for a while each day.
Following treatment I did lots of brain training as was suggested by my oncologist using www.lumosity.com. This really helped to sharpen me up again and thankfully I have not suffered any other side-effects.
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I am now five years into what everyone calls survival and I am well and living life with a new perspective that can only come from walking the road to recovery.
I personally have difficulty dealing with the whole feelings thing; and as part of my self imposed therapy I wrote the following story. This allowed me to face down this very difficult time when my normal behavior would be to simply ignore and move on. (Difficult thing to ignore; cancer)
I'm now sharing this because it no longer hurts to read these words.
Its slightly sad but very true.
On the third day you are moved to a new room, the surgeon is visiting today to discuss the operation. You were more alert today, starting to feel alive again following the grueling passage of the past few days. You look forward to his visit with expectations that all went well. After all, if it didn't surely you would have been told by now.
The clock in your room is placed on the wall at the end of the bed and as you wait time slows down. You try to rest, each time you open your eyes the clock stares back at you, and minute by minute, second by second the day passes.
It’s now late in the afternoon and you receive a visit from one of the many specialists. Nurses are milling around the room as the patient in the bed next to you has had some problems during the previous night. The specialist start speaking about your condition and utters the words - “We need to begin your treatment as soon as possible...”. You look at her with confusion and as you start to ask about the treatment she realizes her mistake, she backs away as quickly as she can.
Now sitting in the room alone, your mind wanders, it goes to places; dark places. You ask the nurse for the fifth time if the surgeon will be coming today, she can tell you are distressed and re-assures you that if your surgeon says he will be visiting, he will.
The surgeon has clearly had a long day, exhausted he enters your room at 9:30 PM, he sits at the end of your bed and delivers the news like he has had to do hundreds of times before. Your conversation is open and friendly as if you are both speaking about someone else.
The surgeon leaves and you close your eyes, trying not to think, but it’s like trying to stop a freight train. Your mind wanders once again to that dark place; it’s so very dark. You stare into the blackness and realize that death itself doesn't invoke fear as you would have expected. It’s a calm place, a place of contemplation, a place where you find out who you really are and what’s really important. Thoughts of leaving your wife, four year old son and two year old daughter drift into focus. You open your eyes and look at the clock, its 11:15 PM. Once again, the clock stares back at you, a reminder that time is running out.
Morning finally arrives and you rise. Stand at the end of the corridor; the walls are grey, everything is grey and nothing is in focus. You look back and see nurses milling back and forth, working hard to keep up with the relentless ringing of buzzers and flashing lights.
Color has washed from the world, as you stand there, thinking; just thinking. Questions flood your mind - the thought of it is so surreal as you stand there almost looking at yourself from outside. It’s not real; nothing is real until she knows. You look down at your hand, a mobile phone stares back at you, her number displayed on the front panel. You don’t want to make the call, if you tell her it becomes real.
The phone rings, after a short pause she answers, you can’t speak, but she knows, she knows something has gone terribly wrong. The only word you can utter is “cancer”...
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I didn't know who Lance Armstrong was until two training doctors came into my room and tried to cheer me up. At that stage I was aware that I had a cancer removed following heart surgery. They then went on to describe the fact that Lance had this very same cancer in his brain and several other locations; he survived so I'll be fine.
Now I'm sitting in hospital with nothing but time to kill (pardon the pun) thinking about the fact that cancer cells could be growing inside my head.
It wasn't funny at the time; but I laugh about it now.
Lance really let so many people down.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.