Monday, January 24, 2011

DAY 1111 - Day 869 inRecovery Paradise

As I followed the dark Cancer path lit by others ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN (DAY 1111) days ago, I have been honored by a fellow struggler, with his first foot on that same path, acknowledging the candles I left behind, as I moved towards the sunrise of a reclaimed life.

I got this email today.

Hello Robert-

...been reading through your blog as I'm about to launch into the same treatment route you have described so lucidly, forewarned is forearmed!  We share a number of things in common, left tonsil cancer....left lymph node cancer, atrial your expose has been more than valuable, knowledge dispels fear. I start on chemo this Wed then another session 3 weeks later followed by 6 weeks of 5 days radio therapy - my diagnosis was confirmed on 10 Jan after an exploratory biopsy on 3 Jan.  Like yourself I am surrounded by professional medics in London and a good support group so I walk forward optimistic about my ability to see this through. What I do not easily appreciate is the extent to which the throat becomes an impediment - I will take the PEG route which I see you advocate.  I am up to day 64 of your blog and would just like to say thanks for having taken the trouble to write it up, it has been invaluable to my wife and I.  I am age 64 and have spent most of my life traveling the world - now semi retired living in Epping Forest close to London.

best regards, and thanks again

xxx return email - 

Thanks.  Writing was a good way for me to stay focused on the solution ahead.  Each day that I wrote about feeling a bit worse than the day before, I knew I had not hit bottom.  I remember the day 64 well.  I just about broke my butt falling down the stairs in the dark about then.  It actually took my mind off the big picture...ha.  When there was three days in a row where I blogged about feeling a bit better than the days before - signaled I had bottomed out and was starting a new climb out of the dark. 

Surround yourself with positive motivation and maintain your sense of humor and what you are grateful for.  Even with all this, you are so much better off than tons of people around the world;  memories of a well-lived life, travel, the means to secure treatment, a support system... think of entire families that were born, lived and died in the train station in New Delhi - living on a cardboard mat, etc.

Your appreciation of your "second turn"  will be magnificent.  The depths you go in your treatment and recovery is just an indication of how high you will go when you pop out the other side of the rainbow.

I am now at DAY 1111 (how cool is that - thanks for your email - you have inspired me to post again in a minute to commemorate the 1111 day) and Day 869 in Recovery Paradise. 

Still a bit of a dry throat (I think I will get to keep that forever as a slight reminder of my experience)...but all in all I have 100% of my strength back and 99.9% of my ability to eat anything.

Life is good (actually better, as my level of appreciation for the little things has accelerated) and it will be for you too.  This experience was actually a GIFT for me and I hope it will be for you too.  At my age, I have experienced the quantity and now I am experiencing a quality and gratitude level that is very different than I have had in the past.  I have traveled all around the world and didn't appreciate the places and things I saw and did as much as getting to watch yet another Sunrise, listening to my daughter play the cello tonight or noticing my wife's look, with love in her eyes.  I am a very lucky man.  I got a second turn.

I am glad my recounted posts are a help.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It is the sun rising on a fantastic second part of your life.  Stay positive.  Remember always, at your darkest hour, you are still more fortunate than many, who would trade with you in a heartbeat.  You have a great life ahead of you.

Note: I loved traveling to London.  I could haunt the old bookstores and pubs forever.  That is where I secured my leather-bound Dickens and Original Strand Magazines with the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

" For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way.  Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life". 

 ~Fr. Alfred D'Souz


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