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Monday, 6 August 2012

Like an Olympian, getting it right at the vital moment

I haven't really taken much interest in the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  2004 virtually went by unnoticed, except for catching Redgrave getting his 5th successive Gold and I don't think the Bejing games even came across my radar.  I was trying to think why this was the case.  2004 I was busy supporting one of my best friends who was in the final stages of metastatic stomach cancer.  In 2008 I was in turmoil after being told at the beginning of the year that I had six months, possibly a year, to live.  I was in a dark tunnel at the time and not really taking too much notice of what was going on.  I was just too busy trying to persuade myself not to kill myself.  Things were quite desparate at the time until I finally found my way through to a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

The light came in the form of Jane Plant's book 'Your Life in Your Hands'.  I was in the local library and having a browse around the shelves when I came across the book.  Here at last was something that really gave me some hope that I could find the path for my journey.  Each of us has to find our journey in life but it becomes an urgent search when you think that your life is coming to an end.  It makes you think about whether you actually want to live at all and to be honest that was something that I found quite difficult to make a decision about.  In the end, as with a lot of things in my life, that little (!) stubborn and determined streak began to take hold.  The refusal to accept the apparent disinterest of the medical profession in my chances of surviving, and the lack of treatment options that they were offering me.  I was bewildered that they were not offering me chemo because then I still thought that this was about the only real chance I had, and it seemed to be even more bewildering that no one wanted to explain the choice of the treatment I was being offered.  Did they really think that my life was worth so little?

I now believe that not being put on chemotherapy is one of the reasons that I am still alive.  It may destroy cancer cells, but it also destroys healthy cells and you immune system.  Instead I went in the direction of alternative medicines and therapies.

One of the first that I used was acupuncture.  This was for purely practical reasons and I had been having treatments even before my hip replacement and Stage IV diagnosis.  I had treatments just to keep myself moving because the doctors weren't taking any notice of the fact that I was having trouble walking.  The first time he worked on my right hip the muscles twanged like an archer's bow as they were released.  When I found Jane Plant's book I could also see how food could also help me, and why I needed to cut certain things out of my diet.

All of these are personal choices, but choices that I instinctively thought was right for me.  It started to give me a sense of control and hope.  Hope is something that should never been underestimated when it comes to dealing with cancer and it is hope that I think was missing in the beginning.  Just as the competitors at the Olympics must have hope and confidence in their ability to deal with a very stressful situation and make sure they get their performance right at the most challenging moment of their lives, so do those of us facing metastatic cancer.  We HAVE to get this right by using our instinct and regaining control, hope and confidence in ourselves and our ability to get it right.

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