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Telling My Story for Hospital Radio, and got 3 new tattoos.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment to tell my story and have it recorded to be used for seminars, we got involved in this after attending a ‘Health and Wellbeing’ seminar in June. They asked for volunteers to record their story or to speak at a seminar, one step at a time so I thought I’d record mine. These would be played while people are mingling about getting a cuppa or a sandwich, waiting for the seminar to begin or during a break. I thought it would be good to try and help others with their journey with lung cancer, or any cancer, hopefully make them realise they can beat it, or at least give it a good run for their money. The build up to this was suppose to be a lot of thought going into it and writting a few notes or bullet points, to help remind me of what I wanted to say. But the reallity was as we left to go to the hospital, I thought ‘I wish I had gone through what I wanted to say, at least once.’ With my back giving way last Friday I never got around to doing anything about it, I felt disappointed but was quite happy I knew roughly what I wanted to say.

The Health and Wellbeing seminar we went to in June.

We waited in reception and someone called Sue was going to meet us and take us to the hospital radio studio, who had kindly let them use their studio instead of just using an office and a tape recorder, google it if you don’t know what a tape recorder is. As it had just gone 14.00, we went to reception to ask for Sue, and the receptionist pointed to a woman standing next to her desk, she was waiting for someone to come through the doors, we had a little laugh about it and were taken down to the hospital radio studio. We went in to a small room, with a lady on the mike, Jacqui, Katy who we recognised from the Health and Wellbeing seminar we went to, Sue was now there and another bloke, it was quite packed in the small studio, and my nervousness was cranking right up now. My wife Sonia had a seat then Jacqui said “My husband is called David James.” I said “your names not Sonia is it?” “No.” Now that would of been a coincidence. We are all introduced and say hello, then the bloke takes a few pictures and he leaves, but there’s still five of us in this small room, still nervous. You volunteer for these things and they seem a good idea at the time, and then when it’s here you think, ‘Why did I say I’d do this?’ Kate who is sitting next to me and will be asking questions, is asking how I feel, and I quickly get in I’m nervous, but she soon makes me feel better, “Don’t worry we’re all a bit nervous.”

This is Kate and me, with Jacqui on the other side of the desk, and I wasn’t asleep, I swear.

We have headphones to put on and a great big microphone in front of each us, and we’re off. Jacqui starts “Hello we’re here with David James, and he’s come here to tell us about his story with cancer,” this isn’t like the one I did with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, there, they had someone asking questions, but you had to use the question in your answer, and then their voice was edited out, so it sounds like your just talking on your own. But this is an interview, at first with Jacqui on the mike, then with Kate asking questions and keeping the conversation going. Now we’ve started I’m quite enjoying it, and once I start on my new favourite subject, cancer, I can talk for hours, luckily this only went on for half an hour, In the middle they played a song, they had asked if I had a particular favourite I wanted played, and I had one in particular song I wanted playing, it’s one of those songs that the world stops when it comes on, and you just listen or sing along. ‘Heros’ by David Bowie, is that song for me, and with the lines ‘We can beat them, forever and ever, we can be Heros, just for one day!’ the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you just feel you can do anything, I love playing this on YouTube, and Motorheads version, as a tribute, is great too. The second half is them asking about this song and about my book that I’m writing, that was suppose to be finished by now, but with needing some radiotherapy, I now have a bit more to write, and more to talk about at my next event like this. As it’s brought to an end, you always feel ‘I wish it could of gone on a bit longer.’ We say our goodbyes and thank you for having us today, we even get a token for the cafe for a cuppa and a bit of cake, a great end to a great day. As we part they even offer to help with my book, maybe help with proof reading, I don’t know much about the publishing side but have seen proof reading, but not really known what it is except that you pay for it, so that would be helpful, thank you.

My new blackhead tattoo, and one on each side too, they said they’ll fade, eventually.

On Friday I have my first CT scan to locate excatly where the radiotherapy will be targeted on my lower left rib. Eventually when we find the Radiotherapy Department, and it is very well hidden along the corridors of Southend Hospital. As I’m called in, they ask a few questions and tell you what will happen, but they also ask if it is ok to do a tattoo of a dot in three places, I said “Yes” but didn’t think it would be a real tattoo. I go in with my top off, but have my lumber support on, as my back is still tender, but I’m asked to take that off, it helps but I’m ok without it, it hurts if I wear it or not. I get on the slider and the mandatory arms up above your head, but this one has rests to put your arms on, why don’t the other CT machines have these, this is comfortable. A few minutes of going back and forward and we’re done, then they come out and tell me they’ll just do the three dots, “Yeah no problem,” “A bit of ink, then I’ll make the dot, a sharp scratch, and another, last one,” That hurt, almost like a real tattoo, I ask how long they’ll be there for, and he says, “They’ll fade in time but will look just like a freckle, but it’s a real tattoo, so they will be there a long time,” ‘Oh, oh well, sure you’ll hardly see them,’ I’m thinking, I didn’t realise they were permanent, but if I need them, I need them. All done and got my date for the radiotherapy, 11th to the 15th November, just after we get back off our holiday to Cyprus. We can’t wait for this holiday, and with ten of us going it should be good. At home I look at my new tattoo, and the one on my chest looks like a great big blackhead, not the best tattoo. Thank you again for reading my blog, and I’ll let you know how the holiday goes and how I get on with the radiotherapy, take care and see you all again soon. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, 100% positive always!

Cancer Trying To Bite Back!

I had my appointment with the doctor, my new oncologist, on Thursday 17th Oct, no reason to think anything but good news, just my side hurting a bit, but as it’s just a muscle, don’t think I’ll bother telling him. Dr Ramadam said “Have you had any problems?” So I mentioned my rib hurting, and he’s nodding a tell tale nod, “I can show you why it’s hurting, would you like me to.” “Yes ok then!” I’ve been preparing for this, but the doctor doesn’t seem concerned, even my wife Sonia is quite calm, relax and see what he says first. The doctor has my scan up and he’s flicking through the images, they’re cross section photos of the inside of your body. He stops and points out to me my heart valves, well they look ok, chest bone, ribs on the right side and here’s the left side, can you see the rib is wider on this side than the other?” “Oh yeah” “That is a bit of cancer in your rib, which explains your problems with your side, and there’s also a bit in your pelvis too, but I’m not worried about that for now.” I asked if this was new cancer and he did say yes, but to me it seems more like it’s just a bit that managed to avoid the chemo seven months ago, and as active cancer in your bones is hard to spot, it’s so much easier to see the scars from where it has died off from, it would of only need to be a few cells and then has seven months to grow, that’s why they scan you every three months, to spot these little growths. I’m now going to have radiotherapy on it, five Fractions, is the technical term for it, and you know I like a technical name for things. That means I’ll go in each day Monday to Friday, and sit under the Xray machine for five minutes or so, and that’s it, then see my oncologist 4-6 weeks after to see how we’re getting on. This will zap the cancer in my rib, but I also have a little in my pelvis too. The doctor said he wasn’t worried and asked if it had caused any problems, I said “No.” But then.

On Friday morning and my back is a bit achyier than usual, but I’m not concerned. We get a call asking if we can take our grandchildren to school, Ellie and Jayden, oh yes we can, it’d be a pleasure. Their car has broken down, but as we pull up and I get out of the car, my back is hurting again, just think maybe I slept awkward or we need a new matress. Ellie climbs in after a great big hug, and I lift Jayden in the back and strap him in. We drop these lovely two off at school, and make our way home again, planning to walk to Basildon to have a look round for stuff, as we’re on holiday soon, but my back is really aching, so I sit on the sofa, that doesn’t ease it, so I try the chair at the table with the computer on, but that’s no better. “I don’t think I can walk to Basildon today, my back is aching so much.” “Ok then, I’ll go for a walk and you rest your back,” my wife said. I need to lay down, it feels like my back is going to just colapse, so I get on our bed and lay down, and it’s certainly easier. Sonia goes out and I’m on my own, not sure what is going on, it’s been a gradual worsening not just an aaaaarrrrrhhh my backs gone, a few times I try to sit up and I can’t even do that, it’s too painful. If I try to put my weight on my back, it just hurts like all my back muscles will just get torn to shreds. So I lay there on the bed, this doesn’t hurt, and I can move around on the bed, but I try to get on all fours, but my backs not having that at all. I keep moving from side to side, and I can lift one leg then the other. What happens if I need a wee? Or a number 2? Oh my god this is horrible. I laid on the bed for 10 hours all together, but did manage to get to the toilet after 6 hours, but that was not comfortable at all.

Sonia came home and made me some soup which I ate on the bed, almost sent it flying as I moved to get comfortable, same with the cup of tea. Had my dinner there, then tried to get on all fours again, and this time managed it without too much discomfort, then managed to get up at 22.30, long past my bedtime normally, whatever it was, it was certainly easing now, I can still feel it, but at least I can get up and move around now, but tonight I’m sleeping on the floor in the front room, that should help. Thinking about it, my back has been aching more over the last three or four weeks, was that because I’ve been at my computer more, it’s just a normal chair for a dining table, not designed to sit on for hours at a time, or was it something to do with the cancer in my pelvis, whatever it was my back could not take any weight put on it, it’s still tender now and I haven’t got full movement in it, but I’ll be seeing the oncologist again soon, but I think a trip to the GP will be done soon. It wasn’t painful if I didn’t try and sit or stand, so I didn’t have any painkillers, but just to get to the route of it, I’d better see the doc.

I was due to see the nurse to get some forms filled out for our holiday on Friday, but I couldn’t stand let alone go out, so I put that off until Monday, and luckily I got them done, sent them off to Jet2, and we got the go ahead to fly, so we’re really looking forward to this, Cyprus here we come. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, take care and I’ll let you know how I get on with the doctor and with my radiotherapy, I’m still waiting to hear when I’ll be having that, but it should be early November. Wishing you all all the best, don’t be afraid of lung cancer, 100% positive always.

They Lied To Me! All Of Them!!!

Right, this weekend was going to be a very busy time, Thursday was going to be results day, this was put back until tomorrow, a week later, Friday was walking up the O2, which went ahead and was great, Saturday was going to be going on The Rage in the morning, but my side was hurting and I didn’t want to make it any worse, so has been put back a week or so or until after our holiday, but I will do it. Go-karting in the afternoon, the same side was hurting so that has been put back until next month, and then the meal at The Magic Mushroom, a very nice restaurant, in the evening. A really busy day and then the whole of Sunday relaxing.

Thursday was going to be the results from my last scan in September, but I received a letter saying it had been put back a week until the 17th, no idea why but I imagine it’s still feeling the effect of my oncologist just packing it in with no notice, and leaving them with no oncologist, a lot of appointments must of been cancelled and so they could be still trying to fit people in, to get back on track. Friday and at 9.40ish Davey is in the car with Lib and Chris, waiting for us to get down to them, and very soon we’re on our way, down the A13 to the Blackwall Tunnel, turn off and we’re here at The Peninsular for the O2, park up into the start for our climb of K2, I’ve looked it up and K2 is “a savage mountain that tries to kill you,” and harder to climb than Everest. Hang on, we’re at the O2 not K2, sorry. Go to reception and we have to fill our forms out, ‘if you fall off, it’s your fault.’ All signed and filled out, but a quick trip to Tesco for a few snacks, as we’re early we’ve got plenty of time.

“Hello, I’m your instructor, and I’ll just put this film on for you to watch, then we’ll go through the safety equipment, ok.” We watch the short film, and I keep my hand down when he asks “are there any illnesses I should know about?” We have a choice of overalls, summer style, a jacket or winter style a set of overalls, it’s a bit rainy today so the winter overalls it is. We have a good laugh with Sonia when she has her overalls on, she has a pair on for someone who’s six foot six, and Sonia is five foot four, her legs look about a foot long, like your looking at yourselves in a wobbly mirror in the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ at a fairground. We all had a good laugh, but the harness you wear put everything where it should be, and Sonia was able to walk normally with the harness in place. You put your shoes, bags and wallets in a box, then these are secured and taken to the other side where we descend the dome back to solid ground. We’re issued our lanyards with the thing (very technical term covering most technical things) that attaches to the cable to keep you attached all the way up to prevent falling off, useful bit of kit. As we go up the the stairs to the start of the climb, a few quick photos, and we have our final instructions, you have to hold the thing all the time or it’ll stop, preventing you ending up where you began, at the bottom.

The ‘Thing’ that keeps you attached to the cable.

And we’re off, holding our thing at the right angle to get past each of the posts and pulling yourself up with the other hand, this first part is really steep, but the trainers they give you are gripping quite well. I’m feeling quite good going up here, really pleased with myself, we’re all doing well. As you get up to each section it gets slightly less steep, levelling out on the top. As we get near the top at the viewing area, there are the climbers from the earlier climb still looking at the views, but we get told to “go back, you should never lose sight of your instructor!” Ok, we go back a little way and wait, but we’ve shot up here and left the rest miles behind, good job it wasn’t K2 we tried to climb, we’d be lost now. The rest catch up and the instructor tells us a little about the view from here, and it is a great view, “If you look over there, you can see the UK’s smallest lighthouse, where the River Lea meets the River Thames, oh yeah I can see it now. It’s cloudy and a bit rainy but the view is amazing, I love this sort of thing. You can see the City Airport and the planes taking off, then they disappear in the clouds but you know they’re there because you can hear them almost going overhead and on to wherever they’re going, lucky sods.

The ‘Thing’ in action, very clever bit of kit.

We get on the viewing platform and the whole 360 degrees view is visible now and it is great. Some people are having a glass of champagne, got to hold onto it though as it’s really windy up here, glad we chose the overalls. We have loads of photos on the top, and a few ‘f**k you cancer’ are said. Today marks a year since I was told ‘You have an average of a year to live!’ And we were hoping to of had my latest results and then celebrated like a bunch of madmen, but there’s always next week or after the next scan. As our time is up on the viewing platform we start to make our descent from the summit, nice and easy at first but it’s getting steeper, and the last section we’re told to wait until we’re all there, and we’ll have to go down backwards as it’s raining and can be slippery. Now this is steep and slow going, but we all make it and safely back to solid ground, we hand in our ‘thing’ then the overalls and shoes, and get our boxes from the locked trunk, but one couple are standing there with no shoes and wondering where their box is, “You did hand it in didn’t you?” “Err umm I just left it there I thought you got them.” But panic over and they were in the first trunk, they just didn’t see them, would be a panic if you ended up shoeless, but wallets and keys are in there too, aaarrrhh. This has been a really good day and a great way to celebrate still being here a year on. Oncologist -0 Dave and family -1.

Saturday was planned to be a very busy day, but with my side still hurting and definately getting better I didn’t want to make it worse, especially as we’re on holiday at the end of the month, so the ride on The Rage is postponed for a week or so or maybe even after the holiday. I stayed in Saturday, Sonia had gone out for a walk, so I thought it best to cancel the go-karting as well, as this would put alot of pressure on my side, I phoned my daughter Lib, and she got it moved to next month, so luckily we didn’t lose out, just got to wait a month or so. Now it’s just the meal out tonight, I like going out but I could quite happily just stay in tonight. But I’d better make an effort as everyone is coming, it’s not till 21.00, we’re going round to Libs at 19.30 to see Tom, rather than just speaking to him from the opposite end of a big table. Get all dressed up and ready to go, “we’ll go in ten minutes or so,” said Sonia. “Oh come on we’ll go now,” “give it minute.” “Right can we go now?”

Me getting ready, how should I have my hair, long or short?

Surprise!!!

What the hell??? Eh, Chris is at the door and Jess with streamers, Colin is on the stairs, and I’m in shock, I had no idea about this, I did suspect on my birthday they were planning something, but nothing happened, and I just left it. The bastards, and look how packed this house is, who are they all? As we parked on Libs driveway, I thought someones having a party around here, but I couldn’t hear anything, there was cars everywhere. My Mum appears with a big smile, my sons Davey and Tom, gits, f**kin hell my sister Nesta and Stewart, and she’s come from Switzerland, oh no they’re back in England now, on their narrowboat, my brother Gwyn and Jan, then I spot my other sister Ceri and her daughter Reniece, OMG that’s Lyn, Richards wife, I’ve never met her, but recognise her from Facebook. Jason and his wife. Aaarrrhh Tony and his wife Sarah, my good friend from work, how did they get in touch with these people, crafty sods. Sonia’s brother Terry and Christine with all their family. Carl and Dawn, “but you came round a week ago, so you knew then?” Big smiles while they nod, bastards. The last surprise party I had, our eldest grandchild Jess happily told me,”we haven’t been doing anything today granddad,” to lots of ssshhh’s from Lib and Sonia. But not this time. More of Libs and Daveys friends to say hi to, we’ve seen some of these grow up from young children, so it’s nice to see them all. You big bunch of f**kin bastards!!! It is really weird knowing that something is going on then you find out that you are the only one that has no idea it was happening, especially when your married to and have a daughter who are 2 of the worlds worst liars.

It takes ages to get around and say hello to everyone, and then I’m given a few bits, a card from my Dad, and I also get a t-shirt, which is the icing on the cake. My son Tom has started to print t-shirts, and this is a great shirt, exactly what I want, it says ‘Nice try cancer, but I’m still here’ on the front, and on the back it has ‘dontbeafraidoflungcancer.life’, where have I seen that before? I have to wear this now I love it. After calling everyone bastards or bitches, we can get on and party now. This has been christened the ‘F**k you cancer! party’, and it’s on a sheet on the wall, then the opposite wall, a garland, in letters that would normally say ‘happy christmas’ but this time more ‘f**k you cancer’, the funny part of this is that there was a guest book, and my granddaughters Jess and Ellie went around and got people to write positive messages in it, and on the front it said, obviously, ‘f**k you cancer’, but this was written by Jess, Jess is 10 and she never swears, and it took her over five minutes for her to write these four letters, interrupted by huge bursts of laughter, and “it’s ok Jess, you can write it this time, but not anymore,” followed by lots more laughter. Another thing I must mention is that on the telly in the front room, they had a video on repeat, and it was lots of photos of me, but this was put together on PowerPoint by our very clever 10 year old granddaughter Jess, and she did it all by herself, and you can see her handy work here and it is great, so thank you Jess I love it. https://youtu.be/EwGQcaToAfE ‘cancer partyu powerpoint’.

As the night goes on everyone is having a great time, then the ‘Conga’ comes on and we’re forming a line and going through the house in the garden then back in the house, so much fun. Some friends from work have come tonight but are working early tomorrow so can’t stay for long, but it has been great seeing them, and really appriciate them making the effort for me. Richard and Lyn are leaving and these are lovely people, I raise money for their charity ‘Clowns in the Sky’, to help children with their hospital treatment for brain tumours across the country. And we’re looking forward to their ‘Winter Ball’, in Dec, you can find out more at clownsinthesky.org . So nice to see them and such a surprise too, I’ve spoken to some others on facebook who didn’t make it but were invited, but they never let it slip either. I’m very impressed.

As the night wears on and it’s getting late, it’s time for us to go, but one last photo, and I try to get Jess to stand in front of the sheet with me and stick her fingers up, but she won’t, in a few years it’ll proberbly be hard to stop her. But today has been fantastic, so nice of everyone to make the effort. I’ve felt a bit emotional a few times tonight, and very humbled by so many just wanting to say ‘good luck to you’ and carry on fighting. And I love my t-shirt ‘Nice try cancer, but I’m still here’ and with, well you know whats on the back, I’m going to sleep so well tonight and this was so much better than a meal, even if it was at the Magic Mushroom. So a huge thank you to so many people for tonight, to my wonderful wife Sonia, even though she did a lot of crafty things, and I never noticed, to Lib and Chris for having the party at their house, and organising so much of it, to Davey and all his friends, Tom and Chloe for the t-shirt, Leo, my Dad couldn’t make it but sent a card, my Mum, and to everyone that made the effort to come tonight, I really can’t thank you all enough. That’s it for now goodnight and thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and see you again soon, the answer to the last blogs quiz question was – Adam Ant with ‘goody two shoes’, takes you back doesn’t it. Take care and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, 100% positive, always!

Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer

This is the story of my journey with Lung Cancer, from waking up completely normally, to suddenly getting pains when I breathed in, to going to hospital and staying in for five days, CT scans, a biopsy, being diagnosed with Lung Cancer. More scans, then a terminal diagnosis, and my battle to recovery with so much love and support from all my family and friends.

This is me with my celebration cake ‘Dad 1 – Cancer 0’ after my scan showed the cancer in my bones was dying off and the tumour had started to shrink. A great day!

My wife Sonia and me on Southend Pier, on one of our walks from Leigh on Sea to the end of the pier and back, only 9 miles. A nice break from chemo, with the added bonus of seeing seals at the end of the pier, we’d been coming here for nearly thirty years and never seen a seal here before, they must come here in the winter.

Here I am having my second session of chemo, with sore eyes from the first session, chemo drys your skin and the inside of your eye lids can get dry giving you sore eyes, I got drops for this on this visit.