I opened an e-mail today and read it, and it was from Barbara Gannon, of ‘Sucess Follows Me’, and has a report of her journey with cancer called ‘Cancer Is Not A Death Sentence’ and it is a very good eyeopening read. And through so much of it, but not all, I could see my story in there. Barbara is a fiesty Aussie who’s very focused and determined, I replied to Barbara in my e-mail that I’m not a glass-full/half-empty sort of person, I’m a, if my glass is empty, then I’ll get another drink, sort of person, I’m a laid back type of person and just go with the flow. There’s the saying ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and it certainly seems true with me on my journey with lung cancer. My brothers son Timmy went vegan and encouraged my brother Morien to go vegan after he was having a bout of bad health, just generally run down. Going vegan helped him and he had mentioned it me but my reply or thoughts about going vegan was ‘yeah whatever.’ This was in the year leading up to my illness 2018. But when I was diagnosed with cancer he urged me to watch the film ‘What The Health’ and another ‘Food Choices’, after watching these and realising there was something in this, I went vegan in Oct 2018, a week before my diagnosis was upgraded to a terminal diagnosis, six months without chemo and an average of twelve months with chemo.
Five months after this prognosis that my cancer will ‘kill me in the end’ my cancer is dormant, I don’t know if this is that the cancer has died, or it’s asleep, whether it will wake up again anytime now or in twenty years. My oncologist shrugged his shoulders and said “I don’t know if it you have cancer or not” to my quetion “do I have cancer?” He certainly wasn’t happy at the prospect I may be cancer free. I came out of that meeting so confused, and not knowing where I stood, I had brain ache that evening trying to sort out my mind as to what was now going on. And reading Barbara’s report on ‘Cancer is not a death sentence’ so much rang true with me, one thing that strikes me is the attitude of the doctor when they give you bad news, they become immune to your emotions possibly, and bluntly tell you that’s it, your going to die. But that makes me think, if they were sympathetic and understanding and compassionate, and go through everything very gently and “when your ready I’ll go through what will happen”, you could come out of there believing all that they have just told you, and then in six to twelve months your gone. Barbara had the same sort of attitude from her doctor as I did, but she told him to F-off, I just smiled at mine and had a ‘whatever ‘ sort of attitude.
Barbara was told she had 3-6 months to live and researched all about cancer and what could be done. Where as the doctors are told just put them on medication, any medication, why? Because someones making money out of it, pharmacy companies. I have a very relaxed attitude to life, and went about my cancer as a blip in my life, it certainly made me take stock and have a look at my life, and now I’m much happier, and want to head down the helping people road rather than the making money path I was on and getting exhausted and bored of it. Being a lorry driver, my HGV part of my licence won’t be back for a long while yet, so I’m enjoying the rest and looking into what I can do to help other lung cancer patients. And with Barbara and me changing our diets and coming out the other side, I still have cancer but it’s dormant, could be dead but we don’t know about that just yet, as far as I’m concerned I’m just waiting for that to be confirmed. It just shows how important diet is, if it’s natural you can eat it, if it’s processed then leave it. Cut out processed food and starve the cancer, I went vegan and my cancer was dormant five months later after showing signs of shrinking and the cancer in my bones dying off after just three months. I did have six rounds of chemo, but this was pallitive so wasn’t meant to cure it. There has to be something in this, and with going vegan becoming the new thing, it can only be good for you and for the whole world, because that can’t carry on the way it is, something has to change, and what better way than going vegan.
I know I’m repeating myself with a lot of what I’ve said here, but reading the ‘Cancer is not a death sentence’ report, has given me renewed vigor in getting this message out to as many people as possible. You can follow Barbara on successfollowsme.com and download her report ‘Cancer is not a death sentence’, it’s a long one but it’s a really good informative read, and has got me to get focused again and cut out the chocolate and biscuits, get back to eat what god made, and that’s it. Keep healthy, enjoy this great read of Barbara’s, thanks for reading my blog about Barbara’s blog, sorry but it was so good I couldn’t resist blogging about it. Take care and see you soon, be 100% positive and Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer.
Saturday 21st September 2019, and today is the big day of Swim Serpentine, I’ve been looking forward to this for two years now, a little hiccup last year preventing me from taking part, so I can’t wait to get in, and start swimming in the lovely cold refreshing water of Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London. I say hiccup, but I suppose getting terminal lung cancer is a bit more than a hiccup, but that’s how I looked at it, it’s easy to say hiccup now, but twelve months ago I wasn’t looking at it quite like that, but I wasn’t scared of it either, as I really didn’t feel ill by it and certainly didn’t feel like it was about to kill me, so I just took it one day at a time, and had to put most of my life on hold for a while, but whatever, I was going to get through this, alive!
Training for this event has been slow due to illness this year, but I’ve had a few really good swims in the local pool, so I’m really pleased with that and feeling ready for it. In July I hurt my rib, or sprained a muscle on or next to one of my ribs, which was quite painful at times. I was doing some deep breathing exercises, and as I finished I could just feel a little discomfort in my ribs as I breathed in fully, so I wasn’t too concerned with this. Two weeks later I ran the London 10k, and a constant pain in my side during the latter stages of this run, I put that down to a stitch, and thought no more of it, but later that day it was becoming quite uncomfortable to get up from a chair or moving around in bed, and had sprained the muscle again, but it’s quite hard not to use that muscle when moving around, so more running or swimming was out, for now anyway. A few weeks later and my side is almost fully better now, and as we were out one day having a little walk, I sneezed, and yep, sprained the same muscle again. A few more weeks after this and it’s nearly better again, during a bit of diy, I’m putting the telly on the wall, as I’m lifting the tv onto the fitting I’ve just attached to the wall, I’d thought this new tv we got a few years ago was quite light, but when your struggling on your own to get both sides onto the new fitting and only one side wants to go on, you realise that actually, it’s not as light as you thought it was, and is becoming quite heavy now. And yes I’ve sprained the same muscle again, and it’s quite painful, I’m not having much luck with this muscle, and starting to get a little concerned, as my swim is coming up and I want to get a few good swims in before it, I need this swim, I can’t miss it again.
I managed to get in the pool a week before my swim, and I tentatively got in the water almost praying my side wouldn’t hurt, and what a huge relief it didn’t, it was almost better now, I just didn’t want the swimming to aggravate it. I got a mile in that day, two lengths front crawl and then two breast stroke for sixty four lengths, so happy and relieved at the same time. I got another mile in on the Tuesday before, and just did breast stroke that day, as I knew that’s what I’ll be doing in the Serpentine. Last time I tried a little front crawl, but with the cold, I could hardly breath and almost had to ask for help, so it’ll just be breast stroke this time, but next year front crawl all the way. Lots of training to get in this year for it, I struggle with front crawl and get out of breath really quickly, I need more work on my stroke. Around early July, I managed a great swim in Basildon Sporting Village, my local pool. They built a new swimming pool here for the 2012 Olympics, we had the Japanese swimming team training here, so Basildon benefitted from these games, and also Hadleigh just up the road from us with the Mountain Bike course for the Olympics that year, a great place for a walk or a bike ride. On the day of my great swim in July, I managed to get to 170 lengths, thats over two and a half miles, I just kept going, as my wife was out that day and nothing to get home for, I couldn’t believe how far I went. Hearing stories of people swimming two or three hundred lengths was just astounding for me and completely unachievable, but now I’m almost there, so yes I can do this, it is within my capabillities. Never doubt yourself.
First thing I have to do on Saturday morning is to pick my car up from having a service and MOT, it was done the day before, but when we walked there to pick it up, they couldn’t find the keys, it was a key fob where you press the button to open the car. I knew I should of brought the spare one with me, I normally do. So we walked back home, despite them offering us a lift, we do like walking. With the spare key fob this time we got our car and they’ll keep looking for our key fob, and will pay for a replacement, we discovered will cost £160-170, I never realised they were that much, don’t lose your car keys. First job done, now I have my three monthly scan this morning, so off to the hospital now, we were going to walk, but we’ve already walked this morning, so it’s the car and £3.00 parking. All goes well with the scan, I didn’t have to wait too long to get scanned, and it was a brand new scanning machine, they have three of these now. This one they can speak to you, a little awkward silence while they waited for my reply, I wasn’t use to this, I thought they just speak but she asked if I was ok. Now we just have to wait until the 17th Oct for the results. All done so off to the station at Pitsea for the train to Fenchurch Street, walk around to Tower Hill, get a tube to South Kensington, quick change and one more train to Hyde Park corner, and we’re here, my wife Sonia, son Leo, daughter Lib and her two Jess and Reg, just got to find my Mum who has come down from Ipswich just to support me for this swim, thanks Mum. We see Chris and Davey, our son in law and son, they’re looking after the hot tubs for this event, and have done for four years now, South East Hot Tubs have come along way in the seven or so years they’ve been operating.
We find a little spot to sit in the shade, it is a lovely day today, but I didn’t bring any sun lotion, I didn’t think I would need any, but it’s lovely today. I start getting my self ready, we have an hour before my start time, so no rush. I proudly put on my ‘Minion’ swimming trunks, no wetsuit here, as the water temperature is 18c so wetsuits are not compulsory. Theres lots of ‘oh my god, your not wearing those!’ Along with lots of laughter, which is what I like, life’s too short to be serious too often, there’s a time and a place and this ain’t one of them. Trunks, goggles, ear plugs, vaseline, sun lotion ( my daughter Lib had some with her), tow float, swim number and timing tag on my ankle, swim hat-pink, nice choice, just the colour code for my start time. Right lets do it, luckily I can put most of what I need in my tow float, and the rest my son Davey will look after near the hot tubs, handy having someone on the inside, now lets get to the start.
On to the start area with only a few minutes to go, getting excited now, I now it’s going to be cold and I haven’t done as much swimming as I would of liked lately, but I’m raring to go, my family are waving me off and the front of the queue has started to go into the water, it takes a few minutes for us at the back to get to the water, nervous excitement now, quick pose for the camera, and my feet are in and it’s cold, but not freezing, bearable, and a quick push off and I’m fully in, and I’m loving it, in where I love to be, the water. Swimming breast stroke and it seems slow going but I don’t mind, it’s not a race and I love being in here so why would I want to rush. There’s a group of us swimming along at roughly the same speed, I’m looking out for my family cheering me on from the side, but I can’t see them, so on with swimming then. It’s an oval course, we start half way along one straight then go around and down the back straight, then turn again to the finish. There’s a lot of people about as it’s a lovely sunny day. I’m feeling good today and coping quite well with this swim, I’m starting to catch a few, not speeding past them but moving up the field slowly, round the bend and down the back straight, I’m starting to speed up a bit now, and not feeling cold either, my fingers were going numb last time, but it was 15c, that three degrees makes a big difference, and I had my wetsuit on last time, much prefer as a skins swimmer, I’d say no chaffing but that’s not true as the top of my legs are getting sore, from my baggy minions shorts, I have trunks on underneath, but wanted to make it fun. Coming up to the last bend and no one has overtaken me, but I did start at the back, where all the slower swimmers are, but still a little chuffed with myself. Spoke too soon, ones gone past me quite quick, then on the run up to the finish someone came flying past and he had an orange cap on, so he started half hour after me and he’s caught me up, then another three come past before I get to the finish, they’re all doing front crawl and making it look effortless while they go past me so quickly, I must try harder.
As I get to the finish, I’m given a helping hand to get out, but I feel ok, two years ago I felt shattered at the finish, but I may of had the start of my lung cancer then without knowing it, I have it now but it’s dormant, and certainly doesn’t seem to affect me. I get out walk along and get my tag sorted out then a very feeble shower, then to the hot tubs, something you really look forward to, but my fan club are waiting for me to congratulate me, hugs and kisses before the tubs, I get a little emotional when my wife hugs me and asks if I’m ok, I am but so proud of myself for doing it, getting it done despite having cancer. The generator that swim serpentine had for the hot tubs, kept cutting out so the water in them wasn’t too hot which was a lot nicer, too hot and it’s uncomfortable, as you’ve just come out of cold water. Sitting in the tub you get joined by and meet some lovely people, which is really nice about these sort of events, doing some of the mud runs I’ve done you started to recognise people from the last race which was nice, but this is a big event with 6-7000 swimmers, hard to spot someone with that many. Get my medal and a few goodies and bottle of water then get changed and make my way back to where we’re all sitting and my lovely cup of tea is waiting for me, heaven. Feeling great apart from the top of my legs just above the knee, my shorts didn’t half rub all the way around, there’s always a price to pay for acting the fool, but it was fun and worth it, but they are really sore. We say goodbye and get the train home, salad in a pitta, as I’m vegan, another cup of tea, and bed, I’m going to sleep very well tonight. What a fantastic day it’s been, bring on the next one, take care and thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I do appreciate it, see you soon and :- Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, always 100% positive.
Well this week has been ground breaking in the swimming world, more specifically the English Channel, and to finish this amazing week, I’m swimming a mile in the Swim Serpentine event in Londons Hyde Park. For me this is a real milestone, as last year I was unable to swim because I’d just been in hospital with breathing difficulties, I couldn’t breathe in a full breath, only half a breath. As breathing is quite important in swimming a mile, and in 15c water, I knew it was best to give this swim a miss this year, especially as we didn’t know what was wrong with me yet, that made me more determined to swim it again this year. After five days in hospital and numerous tests and scans, on the 26th September 2018, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, by my lung specialist consultant. After a PET scan and bone scan, I then met my oncologist for the first time, and thinking this was just to be told about what treatment I’d be having, my wife Sonia and me were told I had terminal cancer and would have an average of a year left to live. Well what does he know! He doesn’t know me. Ask me to do something and I’ll do it, no problem. Tell me to do it and that’s a different story. I’m a quiet polite sort of person and like to be treated the same in return, so when someone tells me I will be dying, to be polite, he can go f**k himself. I should thank him for being the way he was with me, it was like he had got immune to human emotion, and almost got off on it that people would break down and cry at his words. But I didn’t, I smiled at him, as I didn’t believe in any way that I was so ill that I was going t die from this. So thank you doctor. It makes me wonder that if he had been nice and sympathetic I might of believed him and things could be so different today, maybe a picture on the wall for family to remember me by. But no, today I’m getting ready for Swim Serpentine tomorrow. My start time is 16.05, come and say hi if your there.
I love swimming, I just love being in the water, whether I’m swimming lengths or just mucking about, I love it. But could I spend 54 hours in it none stop, well that is another level, way way above me, that is almost comparable to Ross Edgley and his amazing swim around the coast of the Great Britain, 1780 miles, swimming for six hours then six hours off, non stop for 157 days. Absolutely unbelievably amazing. And then we have Sarah Thomas swimming 130 miles, it’s eighty miles as the crow flies, but crows don’t have currents and tides to deal with so it was 130 miles roughly, again absolutely unbelievably amazing. And I’ll be swimming a mile in hopefully under an hour tomorrow. I feel a bit of a wimp next to these two, I take my hat off to anyone who swims the English Channel or just attempt it. I follow a lot of swimmers on facebook, and they say so and so has just completed their swim in 13-14 hours, and I think how could you swim for that long, it really is amazing. But then to come along and try it four times. I think it was last year that someone attempted to swim the channel four times, but had to abort on the third crossing, that is still an amazing achievement, in the sea with waves, the tides, jelly fish, I don’t know how they do it, but would love to attempt it myself one day, you notice no solid commitment there. But I would like to one day, first as part of a relay team, and eventually as a solo swimmer. Lots more training required.
Sarah Thomas is an American, from Colorado, and what makes this special for me as well as the fact she swam the Channel four times, Sarah is a cancer surviver, last year Sarah was treated for breast cancer. Sarah used swimming as a way of coping with what was going on in her life at the time. Swimming is so good for you, in so many ways it can help you, it’s relaxing, meditative, keeps you fit, fun, good for the soul, and you can smash world records on a good swim, just like Sarah Thomas. Her name will long be remembered for her amazing crossings of the Channel, and that’s not all she has done, Sarah only holds the world records for the first over a hundred mile swim with no tide or current, and unassisted, in Lake Champlain, only 104 miles this time, and there’s also so many marathon swims she has done, so amazing, and Sarah kept herself going through cancer treatment last year by swimming as much as possible. It should be the law that everyone should swim as it has so many benefits to it. The world would be a much better place if everyone was a swimmer, you wouldn’t have to be a marathon swimmer to benefit, just being in the water is enough, any movements you do has the resistance of the water and is a good gentle excercise.
I’ll let you know how I get on with my one mile swim, no sniggering please. For me this is a personal challenge, as I said last year I couldn’t do this swim as I was ill, but know I’m ready to take on this event, and to beat my time of 54 minutes two years ago, I’m hoping to beat it but not expecting to be much quicker. Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed. But I’ll be really happy if I do. I ran the London 10k in July and beat my time of 1 hour 22 mins in last years race by seven minutes, I was so happy with that and got a bit emotional at the end, because I’d done it, and cancer wanted to stop me doing these things I love doing, better luck next time cancer. I had a swim in April in Southend on Sea, water was 9.4c, and was my first swim in the sea after my treatment, and was named my ‘F**k You to cancer’ swim, I didn’t have any swimming trunks with me, and only a buff, (neck scarf) to dry myself with, but the water was too inviting, I couldn’t resist. If your going to Swim Serpentine tomorrow, have a great swim or enjoy watching the swimmers, and you’ll love the hot tubs at the end, a great way to finish a great swim, they’re provided by South East Hot Tubs, and being assisted by Essex Portable Hot Tubs, my son in law Chris and my eldest son Davey, sorry couldn’t help but get that in, say hi to them or to me, I’ll be having my swim at 16.05, and aiming to be in a hot tub by 17.00, I have my three monthly scan in the morning at 11.15 so won’t be at Hyde Park until 13.30-14.30. Take care and go for a swim, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog, it is appreciated, and see you soon with news of my swim, thanks again and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer.
Hi, I’ve just seen this new film coming out for worldwide release on the 16th September ‘The Game Changers’, this is a production about how meat is not the be all and end of everything, as it was promoted in the seventies and eighties, and still is today. But today more people are realising that vegan is the way and not eating meat. When you look at the statistics for meat production it really is unbelievable how much water and energy is used to produce meat for the table, and this is adding to global warming so much. And absolutely astoundingly is that it is more polluting than all the transport around the world. Plus the terrible conditions that the animals are kept in for their short lives that no one seems to care about, as long as they fetch a good price at market. The meat industry in America is so protected even the US government can’t force the industry to disclose what conditions the animals are in or how much antibiotics is being given to the animals. This is all voluntary disclosure, you are not allowed to film the conditions the animals are kept in and then show it to someone, you can be prosecuted for that.
The film has been put together by so many sports stars who are now realising that plant based diets are much healthier for you than meat diets. And performance has increased just by going vegan. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a great body building superstar in the seventies and eighties, and was an advocate of eating lots of meat for protein. But where did all these animals so rich in protein get their protein from? Plants! Thats all they ever eat, and yet they’re oozing with protein for us to eat, and yet you can get it directly from eating plants yourself, bypassing the animals and getting protein first hand not second hand. Lewis Hamilton is an executive producer on this project, along with Arnie, James Cameron, Jackie Chan, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul. I feel quite pleased that Lewis became vegan after watching the netflix film ‘What the Health’, the same one that my brother Moriens son Timmy, got him to watch, after not being in good health, and felt so much fitter and healthier for the change to going vegan. When I had my diagnosis for lung cancer, Morien urged me to watch the film, which I did, and could see it made sense that we’re not meat eaters, and going vegan was what we were designed for. Five months after my diagnosis and going vegan, my cancer has been dormant for six months, and this was a terminal diagnosis, with an average of a year to live.
I’m so happy so many well respected stars are now coming out and saying going vegan is good for you. Everyone was brain washed into thinking eating meat was essential for a healthy diet, and yet the numbers of obese people in the west is staggering, and the meat production is such a strain on the worlds resources, and yet plant production could solve world hunger and reduce the impact on global warming, meaning by using less space than we do now, we could easily feed the world a vegan diet and everyone would be healthier, with less gases going into the atmoshere, less climate change, it can only be a good thing.
Some will say it’s natural for us to eat meat, but we’re not designed to eat meat, a little every now and then won’t hurt. Chimpanzees will eat a little meat, if the opportunity arises, but we are not meat eaters. If I gave you a chicken, put you in a room and said there’s your dinner. So it’s now up to you to catch it, kill it with your hands or teeth, then pluck it and eat it raw. I honestly don’t think you’d get far with that, I know I wouldn’t. We don’t have the natural tools for that, but a dog or a cat, now they have the tools and they could feed on the chicken quite happily. Lions, tigers, wolves they stalk, hunt and kill their prey, and eat it raw, no cooking or marinading, or hanging up for twenty days or whatever, it gets eaten there and then, by a long line of meat eaters until it’s gone. Nothing is wasted. But humans realised they can make money from this, and it’s a lot of money, so no one wants to give that up. No one is going to say you shouldn’t eat meat. They make programs to promote eating ridiculous amounts of meat, ‘Man vs Food’is one, on one of these episodes they were on Hawaii, and they were trying to convince you that these huge burgers was the staple diet of the locals. It wasn’t, it was the favoured choice of the visiting Americans, so to profit they made these burgers for the visitors. It looked disgusting and an insult to Hawaii and their people.
So much is sponsored by the meat industry to convince you to carry on eating meat, even some cancer charities are sponsored by meat companies. You don’t have to give it up completely to have a healthy diet, but some people will be eating meat up to four times a day, especially weekends and holidays. A cooked breakfast, chicken sandwich for lunch, a roast dinner, a mixed grill was a favorite of mine, and maybe a burger or kebab as a snack at night. That’s a lot of meat, now it’s not eating meat that gives you cancer, but the cancer will live off the excess protein that your body has stored. The human body doesn’t like to waste anything, and will store fat and protein, as years ago that was the only way you would survive winter. Meat has more protein in it than your body will use, so it stores what it doesn’t use, in your arteries. Then when it’s needed you have this supply that can get to any part of your body. But it doesn’t seem to send a set amount, it just sends protein, and it just keeps coming, possibly the reason for some cancers to develop, having so much protein being given to a certain organ, in my case my lung, then this starts to make it grow wrong, which then speads, to the lymph nodes and bones and my other lung. Five months after going vegan my cancer has died off from my bones and the tumour has started to shrink, but I was having pallitive chemo, just to prolong life not to cure me. Something made the cancer dormant, it hasn’t shrunk any more or showed to be dying off since going dormant, but it’s dormant, and this is now eleven months on from my terminal diagnosis, and being given an average of a year to live. I’ve always been positive and never accepted I was ill, let alone ill enough to be dying, but I truely believe that going vegan is the reason I’m still here and quite happily going about my life with cancer, but dormant cancer.
The anti vegan movement is alive and well, and I wonder what they will make of this new film, ‘The Game Changers’. ‘What The Health’ was a vegan film made by vegans to promote going vegan. This was obvious, but this new film is by people who are so well known and respected in their line of work, and most have only recently come to the notion that going vegan is a good thing, and with so many of these at the top of their chosen professions, people have to sit up and take notice now, they’re not just academics telling you facts or their opinion, it’s people so many people admire and have done for years, getting on for over fourty years in some cases, that have come around to the idea that vegan is the right way. Realising years of being told only eating meat can get you to the top, isn’t actually the truth, they were just being sold a product by a good salesman.
So now the truth is coming out, and about time too, so wake up and realise you’ve been sold meat for years as the only way to eat, being promoted in sit coms and soap opera’s. How many times has someone tried to sell you something, eg a car, they tell you how good it is, makes the sale, and yet he drives off in a different make of car, not touching that make of car for anything. We’ve been sold the notion that meat is the only way for health and strength for years, now it’s time to get healthy, feel better, prevent so many illnesses that that eating meat can cause or feed, high blood pressure, Alzheimers, some cancers, dementia just to name a few. I’m not a medical person and these are my views based on my own personal experience with lung cancer(not smoked since 19 years old) and from watching films like ‘What The Health’, ‘Food Choices’ and really looking forward to this new film ‘The Game Changers’ worldwide release on 16th September 2019. So that’s another rant over and thanks for reading my post and my opinions on going vegan, it’s the best thing I’ve done for my health, give it go, you never know you might like it. And remember always be 100% positive and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer! Or going Vegan!
It may not be THE most beautiful place on earth, but it’s up there with the best definitely, we’ve just had four days here, staying at Devils Bridge, a few miles from Aberystwyth, Mid Wales. The scenery is stunning, we came into Wales on the A44, and got to a lovely little town called Rhayader, from here after looking at the map, no sat navs here, I saw a road that would take us straight to Devils bridge, I’m not sure what the road starts off as but it becomes the B4574, so straight on at the junction in Rhayader, and within a mile we’re turning right. That’s got to be it ‘Mountain road to Aberystwyth’ sounds ominous but I’m sure our little Kia Picanto can handle it. It’s not quite a single track road but it’s not far off, but I do like these little roads, it was always a lot of fun in an artic with a forty foot trailer behind you, delivering bricks and blocks, you went down these sorts of roads every now and then and I loved them, proper driving, that’s when I worked for Canute’s for three years, 12-15 years ago. Working for Abbey you had a few factories or farms you’d deliver to down roads like this, I got stuck once on the drive way into the farm, I couldn’t go forwards, too steep, and I couldn’t go backwards as I was now heading into a steep field as the road was so narrow, the farmer had to get his tractor out to pull me up the slope, and it pulled the unit and tanker, fully loaded, 44 tons as though it was nothing, very impressive.
We travelled along this road, just a normal windy road at first, then it went up and up, over a cattle grid, and then up some more, sheep everywhere, all quite content grazing by the edge of the road, only a few seemed put out by the cars going by, these were the ones looking for the next bit of grass to feed on, the ones munching away didn’t bat an eye lid. A river is to the left of us, with a couple of cars parked and you can see a few people by the beautiful river dropping 100 feet or so over rocks, not straight down in one go, but a steady slope. There’s just something about water I absolutely love, rivers, lakes or the sea I could sit and just watch it all day. The sound of it, the smell, the feel of it, I’ll always go for a swim if I can, I love the water. As we get to the top of the mountain the views are stunning in every direction, then it’s up and down for a while every turn producing a new stunning landscape. We go past the Crag Goch Resivoir, with a junction, left or straight on, these are the times you wish you had a sat nav, but it’s two-ish in the afternoon, the sun is to our left, and we want to be heading west, so straight on it is, we’re in no rush and with plenty of fuel in the tank if we do get lost. Straight on if your heading to Devils bridge, or Aberystwyth. You can look down here and see a parking place just past the junction, with several cars there, and can see some people in the river splashing about, my heaven, I wish we did stop but wanted to get to our hotel, hoping to get back here another day while we’re here.
We’ve come down from the top now and we have a huge mountain to our left, so beautiful, with it’s green slopes, a river between us and the mountain, the we see a small campsite, only a couple of hardy campers there, one was setting up, but what an amazing spot to camp at, and if you have all the right gear for the rain, which you’ll need here as it does like a bit of rain, you’ll have an amazing time here. We’ll need a bigger car than our Picanto if we’re to start camping, we could get the gear in the car but there’d be no room for anyone else, including the driver. We’ve been laughed at a few times at Ikea or The Range when we’ve tried to get the big boxes of flat pack furniture in the car, at least we tried, then got a van to take them home, much easier.
We go through a village called Cwmystwth, how nice would it be to live here? The Mountains all around, so far from the town, a completely different life, I’m probably not tough enough to cope with their winters, or life here throughout the year, but I would love to try. We come to another junction, straight on for Devils Bridge, I hope, Hafod estate is the left turn here, and we’re staying at the Hafod Hotel, so a bit of confusion and pick straight on, luckily it’s the correct decision, and Devils Bridge soon appears in front of us, the car park for the hotel is on the left, park up and get our bags and walk the hundred yards or so to the hotel. More stunning scenery all around so beautiful here. We book in and go to our room, so relieved to be here. It’s a long trek from Basildon to Devils Bridge, so we broke it up with a stay at Gloucester, which was nice having a wander around there on Sunday evening, then meeting the take away guy at the door, and taking our food up to our room to eat and relax.
This trip is all about family, my brother Gareth lives nearby in Pont-Rhyd-y-Groes, and has done for ten years, so this is only our third meeting in those ten years, luckily his kids will be there too, which is really nice to see them all. Also my Dad is coming down, with my oldest brother Morien and one of his sons Timmy. We had the trip to the Peak District at the end of July, and had most of our family in one place, just Gareth and my Dad not there so this is so nice now we’ve seen everyone within a month. The last time everyone was together was at our wedding thirty one years ago. There were no children at our wedding from our family, now we have fourteen children between us, and my wife and me now have five grandchildren, how things change. We have a little walk around Devils Bridge, and go down to see the ‘Punch Bowl’ and waterfall, this is really nice, and only £1 to get through the turnstile, only about a hundred or so steps here, but you get down below the three bridges that are here, each one built on top of the other, at the bottom you have the river, and as it has swirled around for thousands of years, it has carved out a half circle in the rock, amazing to see, the power of water is unbelievable.
After this little walk it’s off to Pont-Rhyd-y- Groes, the drive from here is only fifteen minutes and it’s so beautiful, over the mountains and amazing views in all directions, this place is so beautiful, you sit in Gareths kitchen or at the front of the house, and it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. We’ve been here once before and it’s as good as I remember it, you always think how sad it is to think that maybe people who have lived here all their life, may take this view for granted, it’s so spectacular, and not repeated at many, if any places around the world. Gareth tells me it rains so much here, but we were there for four days, and it did rain but not enough to spoil any of the days, so I don’t believe him when he says it rains most of the time. Gareth cooked us a lovely meal, a welcome bonus, we were wondering what we’d eat tonight, and there’s no mcds or chip shops round here, not like Pitsea, we have at least nine takeaways on our doorstep. As we got here there were these adults or nearly adults at his house, omg they’ve grown so much, but we haven’t seen them much over the years, Jem is eighteen, Jasper is sixteen and Jensen is fourteen, Gareth had to ask each of them their age, as long as they’re ok some info like age isn’t regarded as important by the brain, it’s just a number. Jasmine is out tonight, and she’s twenty four, a year younger than our son Tom and the same birthday. Great seeing everyone, and we make plans to climb the local mountain tomorrow, before my Dad, Morien and Timmy get here.
In the morning Sonia, Leo and me go down to the other little walk you can do at Devils Bridge, this one is £4 to go around, but obviously much longer than the £1 walk, and it’s worth every penny, this is stunningly beautiful, all 654 steps of it, most of them quite steep steps too. I could put hundreds of photos from this walk in here, so I’ll try and keep to just a few. This is a tiring walk and so happy that I can manage it while carrying around some lung cancer, even though it’s dormant, but we let Gareth know that walking up the ‘James Family Mountain’, as they have named it, will be out today, so we just go round to his house and chill in the front garden with amazing views, and being shown photos and told about some of the aircraft that use this valley for training, with the defining roar from the jets, knowing that if you hear it, by the time you look up you know it’s gone. It’s great seeing everyone again and Jasmine this time, but we head back to the hotel for a rest before dinner tonight with everyone at our hotel, they do some vegan food here so I’m looking forward to that. My Dad, Morien and Timmy arrive safely, and in a great big 4 by 4 thing, and we’re told my Dads car is making alot of noise so probably wouldn’t of made it, so they hired a car and this was all they had available, so needs must and they had to make do with it, a bit of a struggle though when your not use to it.
We all had a lovely meal at the hotel and had arranged to go to Fairbourne the next day. This is where we came on a lot of holidays when we were very young, Morien was an only child when he first came as a baby, there are six of us now, we all have so many great memories of Fairbourne, mine was the minature railway, I got a pass for it one year and spent the whole of the last day of our holiday on it, just going back and to, loved it. The beach was a great place for football or cricket, and a swim, then the walk back to our cottage just up the hill through the village. As we got to Fairbourne the weather had eased, the rain had stopped, but still a little windy, first stop the chip shop, chips, curry sauce and a bread roll, then a walk to the beach past the minature railway, and get the swimming and cricket things from the car. As we get to the beach over the sea defences, the tide is in and only the large stones and peebles are visible, so time for a swim first before the cricket, Timmy and me are the only ones going in the sea, and not long after getting in, we see a large jellyfish, hopefully we won’t see many more. I love it in the sea, jumping the waves trying to get beyond the breakers and having a little swim, but just being in the water is enough for me. As the tide is going out a small bit of beach is becoming visible, so it’s nearly cricket time, we had so many games on the beach here, as the sun was going down, then back to our holiday cottage. Hardly seems possible it is over fourty years since we were here, and yet we can remember it like it was yesterday.
Out of the sea and get dried, and the cricket match is under way, just two batting and the rest bowling and fielding, no counting the runs or sides, not enough of us today for that. A lot of fun though, even though I was bowled out first ball by Jasmine, she sent the stumps flying, I saw the ball coming but couldn’t hit it, and bang, OUT! Back to fielding then, even my Dad has joined in, and he’s in his eighties, but he’s not as quick as he used to be, so he’s given a runner to help him. Gareth is a very keen cricketer, and it shows in his children, all four of them, and I like to think I’m a pretty good bowler, and that is from growing up with Gareth. Cricket was a very popular game in our household when we were young, in the garden or on the beach, but I never really took to cricket, and don’t ever remember playing the game at school. I do remeber playing with Gareth one day in the park in Congleton, where we use to live, “I know what your weakness is now, fast bowling, watch this.” And straight in the nuts, OUCH! “Oh come on, arn’t you ready to play again yet?” “No! Not yet!” No wonder I never took to cricket. Luckily no repeat of that today I’m glad to say. But it is a great day playing cricket on this beautiful beach, with the tide going out slowly, it reveals a massive beach at low tide, and a lovely sandy beach, great fun as a kid.
As the cricket comes to an end, before we all head off some of us go on the miniature steam railway, getting the last train of the day, to the end of the line opposite Barmouth, some people getting the ferry to Barmouth, and then back to Fairbourne station, back to the car, but before we head off, my Dad, Morien and me drive up to the holiday cottage we used to stay in, we see the house we use to stay in, but is so overgrown now, then we see the house name, and so many memories come back from just reading the house name, then we see the owners of the house opposite, and ask them about the house we use to stay in, they knew of the owners, not being old enough to know them, and knew the story of the house, that it was bought from Harrods in London, and shipped out here on a lorry and put together on the hill, and being the first house here, there’s about maybe ten houses here, it’s great being back here and hard to think the last time was over fourty years ago. Back to Pont-Rhyd-y-Groes for a lovely meal and great hospitallity from Gareth and his kids, a great end to a great visit to Wales, seeing all my family now in just over a month, beautiful scenery, here and in the Peak District. Back to the hotel and back to Basildon tomorrow, and looking forward to going on the mountain road again. Take care and thanks for reading my blog, always be 100% positive and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer.
Here is an extract from the book I’m wring about my experience with cancer. This is the day I became ill with breathing difficulties, going into work and struggling along hoping my problem would just sort itself out by itself, to giving in and reluctantly going to hospital. My book is called ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer’ and will be completed in October all being well, after my meeting with my oncologist on the 10th October, that will wrap things up nicely or be a start for a second book, depending on the results.
The Day Started OK.
‘I’m Gonna Send You Back To The Place Where It All Began’
10th Sept 2018. I came home from a night shift from my job at Hoyer, driving a 44 ton artic tanker, delivering petrol and diesel to BP garages around the south east, just a normal shift nothing out of the ordinary, no problems. I would normally be home between 4 and 5 am from a night shift, sometimes a little earlier or later. I’d normally stay up for about a hour having a snack or a cup of tea, winding down from the nights work getting ready for a sleep, I won’t say a good sleep as doing shift work, days and nights you start to lose your natural sleep pattern and you really don’t sleep as well. A normal sleep would be about 4 or 5 hours, then get up as I’m now wide awake anyway, have a cup of tea, then some lunch have another cup of tea then start thinking about going back to bed for a hour or 2, then up at 3, get ready and off to work again, on a night shift I won’t see my 13 year old son all the shift, except if I’m working weekends, as I’m off to work before he gets home, and asleep when he gets up. It pays well but it’s not the best job, 4.00 am or 4.00 pm starts, and 12 hour shifts.
I got up as I do on the Monday morning about half 10 or so, and after about 10-15 mins I breathed in and got a pain in my back, but inside me somewhere, I sat down and started thinking what it could be and what to do. At first I started to think I had slept awkwardly and bruised my ribs in my sleep, maybe even cracked a rib, that seemed to cover it, so I thought it’ll pass soon enough. I carried on as I normally would, had a cuppa, had lunch, then start to get ready for bed again, I thought I won’t be getting much sleep with this, and if I don’t, as much as it pains me I wouldn’t be going into work that night. I couldn’t believe how well I slept but as I got up I still had a problem breathing. 3 more shifts to get through, but I didn’t want to lose my attendance bonus, or my money for the next 3 shifts, so I thought go in and see how I get on. An echo of what your firm will always say when you tell them you won’t have time for the last delivery, “See how you get on”.
I went in to work and only had 2 jobs to do, my first one was in Newbury just off the M4 J13, I was already loaded, not too bad, then a local one after if I could manage it. Off we go to Newbury, an unusually smooth start to a shift, driving wasn’t a problem, getting to Newbury and parking up on the tipping point was easy, then I had to put cones out which was a struggle, my 6 small cones were easy enough, but the large cones were awkward to handle, heavier and they often stick together making it a struggle to separate them. Got that done with plenty of panting. Then started tipping, one pot only had 3000 litres in of unleaded, in a 7000 litre pot, which can lead to an airlock, as there’s not enough weight to push the fuel out, as it’s all tipped by gravity. So you have to lift the hose which is heavy on a good day, let alone when you can’t breath properly. Once you get it going your fine but you have to lift the hose then walk to the customer end lifting the hose as you go, which is full of product. I’m panting away but eventually got it going and I’m thinking I shouldn’t be here doing this, there’s no way I can do any more I’m just going back to the yard, parking up and going home.
An ambulance came into the garage to fuel up, and I’m looking at it thinking that I should go and ask them if this is just a bruised rib, but then a thought comes into my head that if it is something worse, they’ll be keeping me in a hospital in the Newbury area miles away from my family in Basildon. Stubbornly I choose not to see the ambulance crew, and I’ll drive back to Purfleet, when I’ve finished tipping here, go home and sleep it off, it’ll be better in the morning.
Arriving back at the yard in Purfleet about 11.30pm, I drove round the back and parked up, phoned Hoyer and told them I’m going home, “Oh ok then what’s the matter?” “I’ve hurt my ribs and I’m struggling to breathe” “Oh no how did you do that?” “I think I must of slept awkwardly last night” “Oh thats alright then”. You could almost hear the relief that I wasn’t going to be suing them for falling and banging my ribs at work. “Just send a text or phone your LTM”, (my manager), I sent him a text. I got my gear together and took out my tacho card, and left a note apologising to the next driver for not fuelling the truck and preloading. It’s such a difference to come into work and your loaded and the diesel tank is full, they’re not huge diesel tanks so need daily topping up or you’re going to run out, and being a fuel tanker driver, you’re never going to live that one down.
I saw some of the lads in the tea room, but unsociably went straight to my locker as I felt I was struggling a bit now and just wanted to get home, some of them came up to me and asking what I’ve got next then realising I was done “How come you going home so early”, “Oooooh that sounds bad” “Your going to the hospital right” “Oh err yeah probably” “Ooohhh no you want to make sure you do go, could be serious, could be your lungs and not your ribs” uuummm thanks feel a lot better now. Getting to my car though I’m thinking maybe I should just pop to the hospital just to check its nothing more serious than a bruised rib, sure it won’t be. Its not even midnight yet, I’ve got plenty of time and I’ll only be sitting there.
I got parked in the car park at the hospital, but just walking over to the A+E department was hard work, slow down and I won’t get out of breath, up to the counter and join the small queue, “Yes, have you got your form?” “Err no I’ve just got here, I’m having trouble breathing,” “I’m sorry I can’t process you until you’ve seen the triage nurse over there”, well I look behind me and theres only a few patients sitting there, “Where is this triage nurse?” “Knock on the door and take a seat next to it”, so I knock on the door and sit down, it felt a bit like knocking on a door and hiding when you were a child, great system. The door opens and a couple come out and “Next” but another couple go in before I can get up, oh sod it I haven’t got the energy to argue with anyone tonight. I shrug my shoulders at a couple opposite me and say “I’ll be next then” and we laughed. As the door opened again “Next” and another couple start to go in but the couple opposite me tell them that I’m next, so thanks to them I’ll now be seen, and told to go home and sleep it off, you’ll be fine in the morning.
This is the first chapter of my book ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer’, I’m quite pleased with it and I’m enjoying writing it, and I think it has helped me come to terms with what has happened over the past 11 months, and made it easier to cope with. You go over the same thing so many times, and you look at it from so many different angles, it changes the way you look and feel about things, and takes some of the fear away, and some things you just have to be totally realistic about, not relying on the outcome you want, but accepting what is going to happen and just getting on with it.
Feel free to leave any comments, take care and always be 100% positive and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer!
Having swam this event in Londons Hyde Park two years ago, I booked my place last year, and was getting ready for it when I suddenly became ill, with breathlessness, and after some CT scans and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I couldn’t swim like that so had to just give it up and not go, something that I was very disappointed about, but under those circumstances I had no choice. But it’s not the same this year, my cancer has been dormant since March, after the cancer in my bones had died off and the tumour had began to shrink after Januarys scan. June’s scan was the same as March’s scan, dormant, stable and showing no signs of growth, so I’m not just going to sit there and wait for it to come back, if cancer wants to take me it’s going to have to work so hard, and I’ve always thought of cancer as a very lazy parasite, wanting you to sit there and feel sorry for yourself so it can crawl all over you. But stay active, as active as you can and send your cancer to sleep. I think going vegan played a big part in that and being 100 % positive.
I found out about this swim in 2016, I had heard of it but that’s all, but my son-in-law Chris had provided all the hot tubs for this event, and when he got back from that event, Chris told me how I would of loved to do it, so I had a look and the next year signed up, and swam a mile in 15C water, in 57 minutes, and then you get out and sit in an amazing hot tub, that is such a great extra that Swim Serpentine added to make the event even more special. I hadn’t heard of any events having hot tubs to sit in to help you to get warm again, but it really is nice and a great finish to a great day. South East Hot Tubs is the buisness that he runs with our daughter Lib, and they’re doing so well with it, I take my hat off to them both for making it work so well, especially after remembering Chris coming home from work one day saying “A bloke at work is selling a hot tub, I’m gonna buy it and rent it out.” Yeah whatever Chris, went through my mind, but they’ve proved everyone wrong and making a huge sucess of it, and good luck to them as well, it’s been about eight years of hard work but they’ve done it and now getting the benefits of all their hard work, with a sucessful buisness and a lovely family to show for it, and I get to try out a hot tub every now and then, for free, they’re great. And if you want to rent one for the weekend have a look at southeasthottubs.co.uk a great addition to any party whatever the weather, and they were invented in Norway or Sweden to be used for a warm dip in the winter, and you always feel great once you’ve been in one.
This year I’m up for this swim, I had a great swim in early July, I went for my normal swim for about an hour or so, but Sonia was out with her sister Denise, so I had nothing to rush back for, felt good and just kept swimming, managing 64 lengths in 44 mins, 82 lengths in an hour, 128 in 1 hour 32 minutes, and 164 lengths in two hours, and then at least six more just as a warm down, I couldn’t believe it. Now it wasn’t none stop, and it’s pushing off at the end of each length, I also had two little stops waiting for someone to get out of the way. So it wasn’t an official record, but it was over two and a half miles, and I felt great. I have to thank a lady on ‘Healthunlocked’, a forum on the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation website, I read her story and she had half a lung removed due to lung cancer, and had gone swimming and was completed an amazing 360 lengths in one session, makes me look like an amateur, but I was amazed at her strength and courage, and never thought I’d be able to get anywhere near that, but I’m on my way, just starting with small steps.
Swimming the channel has always been a life long dream, but never actually thinking I would ever be able to do it, I still don’t if I’m honest but I will give it a try, starting off in a relay team then hopefully as a solo swim one day. I follow a lot of crossings and they say “so and so has just reached France in 11, 12, 13 or even more hours of swimming, how do you swim for that long? Absolutely amazing, I take my hat off to everyone that attempts this challenge, whether they get to France or not, such an amazing effort. I read a blog of someone who had been swimming for 12 hours, but the skipper of the boat called it off, as the tides were against them, and to actually finish would be at least another three hours of swimming. The tides are so unpredictable in the channel. I assume because you’ve got the Atlantic at one end and the North Sea at the other. The blog carried on and said the next day the same skipper went out, lovely conditions, and the swimmer got to France in almost a straight line, and swam seven miles less than the swimmer the day before. Oh my god just swimming seven miles is an absolute feat, let alone swimming seven more miles than someone else. An unbelievable effort.
This year Swim Serpentine is on the 21st September, the same day as my CT scan, just to check everything is still dormant, or not. They do like to scan you at the weekends for these check ups, my scan was booked in for 17.15, and all the waves that were left for the mile swim was 16.05 or 16.35, so it’s looking like this clash of times means a very disappointing not doing this swim again. I phoned up the appointments line but never got through, not once, so Sonia and me walked up to the hospital to see if we could get the time changed. My appointment was in the new Cardiothoratic department, first stop there, they couldn’t change the time of the appointment, but said if we went to main Xray department, if anyone could help they could. So off we went and a very nice young lady helped us and changed the appointment to the morning, so I had time for my scan and then get to Hyde Park and swim in the 16.05 wave. I’m feeling great now and really looking forward to this swim. I love swimming, I can’t swim far front crawl without stopping, but am practicing and getting further, but will be swimming this event breast stroke, I can do this all day long, but I just like the feeling of gliding along when you do front crawl properly. I just find myself swimming as quick as I can when doing front crawl, and getting breathless so quickly, but I am working on it.
So with Swim Serpentine booked, the London 10K completed, my cancer is dormant, this year is going great, cancer stopped me from swimming this last year, I was so determined to swim it this year, and was getting really worried that just a clash of appointments would prevent me from taking part this year. This was a mental battle as much as anything else, and I wasn’t going to let cancer stop me again, and was so relieved that the receptionist was able to help to change the time of the appointment. I didn’t want to cancel my scan as I had my oncologists appointment already, and these routine checks are so important in keeping one step ahead of cancer. So that’s another one to me, and I’d better get training then, and I’ll let you all know how I get on, take care and Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer.
As I said in my last blog I was going on a steam train driving experience, which turned out to be a great day, and I had some filming to do in Liverpool, for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which was also another great day. Cancer likes to take away these sort of days from you, but it’s losing it’s grip on me, as I seem to have loads of great days now.
The Steam Train experince was at Elsecar Heritage Railway, near Barnsley, and what a great time we all had, there was four of us doing a two hour experience each, so it did get a bit boring for those not having a go. The train would go out with someone on, then back, then another, we had three or four goes each, the last with two on the plate, that’s technical talk for the bit where the driver and fireman stand. The train they normally use had broken down so they got one in from another steam train centre, but was smaller than the one they normally use, this one looked like Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine, engine number 1310, for those that are interested.
You would blow the whistle to start to warn everyone, then go to the button to cross the crossing, wait for the white light, proceed when safe, then blow the whistle again for the trainee workman working on the line, they were training for going on the main lines, practicing getting out of the way of the trains, they go alot slower here than the intercity trains they’ll be up against on the main lines. You’d push the regulater up as you go up hill, then bring it back a little, then all the way back and the steam break on then off, then on and off, as you come to the end of the line, it’s only a mile or so long, but it’s a great experience driving a steam train, I can’t wait to have another go, even though it’s so hot with the fire raging away at your feet. Maybe not so good when it’s chucking it down with rain, but I’d do it again whatever the weather. So a huge thanks to my Mum for organising this for us, and to my brothers Morien and Gwyn, and his wife Jan, my wife Sonia and son Leo, and also to Timmy, Morien’s son, for filming it and putting together this little film of a great day :- https://youtu.be/eAcIY2Sbhzw hope you enjoy watching it, and if your ever in the Barnsley area, I can’t recommend it highly enough, Elsecar Heritage Railway.
Top right – My Mum and my wife Sonia with me. Me standing on the front of engine 1310. The four of us on the front of the train, after our driving experience. Sonia and me. The mighty ‘Mardy Monster’ the biggest of its kind, in for repairs.
On Friday the 2nd August, I had my chance to tell my story on film at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation at their headquarters in Liverpool, this was for a campaign they are doing in November, so they pick the best bits and put out a minute or two of everybodies story, there where about five of us here today and they had more on Tuesday. The campaign will be nationwide, but my story will be aimed at where I live, Basildon Essex, and other peoples where they live, I doubt I’ll be on celebrity this that or the other at any time after doing this, but I’m proud to be doing this, in the hope that it will help someone, and inspire them to kick cancers butt. The day went really well, we had some nibbles and met a few of the others telling their stories, one guy had his diagnosis nineteen years ago, and was still here, that’s inspiring and he was so dignified with it too, then there was Eileen, who was on the cover of their annual magazine ‘Inspire’, a lady who was more worried about missing out on her trip to Nepal than her cancer, and Eileen did go on her trip, a very strong lady, and very friendly, I wasn’t going to argue with her when she told me to come and sit next to her and tell her my story, a lovely person, and a pleasure to meet Eileen and the others that were there to tell their stories.
We were also having a photo shoot, which we knew nothing about, but was fun, we also did a bit of filming outside, but there were a lot of people having lunch, sod it we did it anyway, even though that did feel weird, my wife Sonia and me were filmed just looking into the distance, and to have ours hands coming together, this was to fill the gaps when they edited the filming of my story. As we filmed while others watched while they ate lunch, it was a bit off putting that no one recognised me, but I’m not a star yet, maybe in November they’ll say “I saw them filming that bit”, but then maybe not. After the photo shoot, it was time for the story, the bit I was worried about, I’ve never been much of a talker, let alone on camera, but it seemed to go well, we were given a list of questions to know what to expect on the day, which I did look at and prepared myself for, but it turned more into a chat, and when Rachel, the interviewer asked me about our daughters wedding, that was when I started to get emotional, it took a little while to compose myself, I was so proud that day taking my daughter down the aisle, one that cancer wanted to deprive me of, but with all the love and support I’ve had, cancer didn’t stand a chance. A very great and very proud day for all.
I had prepared for all the questions, but when I was asked what was something inspirational that had happened, my mind went blank, I knew I had an answer for that but I just couldn’t think of it, looking back now I’m sure it was the fact that I was at our daughters wedding, but as we’d already talked about that, it threw me and my mind was blank. One of the others had a note book with her, I had it all written down but in my mind, not on paper, note to self, write it down next time. I think it went well and will put out a link to it when it comes out in November, and we get a copy of the photo’s which will be good, proper photo’s of my wife Sonia and me, looking forward to those. I would like to thank Rachel for seeking me out on Facebook, and making me feel totally relaxed about it all. All the people we met were really kind and would like to thank them all for their hospitallity, see you all again next year. After we had finished there with the photo’s and filming, we had a little walk around Liverpool, around Albert dock which is really nice, and then strolled into the city, and had to see ‘The Cavern’ where it all started for ‘The Beatles’, then strolled around Liverpool 1 shopping centre, Liverpool is a great city, so much history and so many characters, if you know a scouser you’ll be having a good laugh in no time.
Clockwise from top right – Me in front of the Liver building. Looking out on the Mersey. Sonia and me outside the Cavern, we were told we’d never make it too! This is Leo, one of my Dads dogs, he has recovered from cancer too. The cottage we stayed in, at Bamford in the Peak District. The Cotton Exchange where the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is based. Two cancer beaters. This is Timmy, my brother Morien’s son, Timmy went vegan who told Morien about it, who told me about going vegan when I first got diagnosed with cancer, and my cancer is now dormant, this is Timmy, who saved my life! And this is the Derwent Dam, where the dam busters practised before bombing the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in Germany, very close to the cottage we stayed in, we had a lovely walk around here.
As you flick through the internet and you sign up to weekly news letters, looking through one of them from ‘Highexistence’, it was almost a revelation. The Stoics from around 2000 thousand years ago, were writing about things that are so apt for todays life, the one that reeled me in was from Marcus Aurelius (121AD-180AD) and he wrote “Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.” And that’s exactly what I did to my Oncologist when he told us “you have an average of a year.” I think it threw him to have someone smiling back at him when telling them they only had so long left to live, it seemed he had become almost immune to human emotions, whether doctors end up in oncology through choice or circumstance I don’t know, but I don’t think his heart was in it any more. At my June appointment he had left suddenly and left the department without an oncologist, with a few filling in for him, but struggling with the computer system at this hospital. As my scan results were so straight forward the lung specialist nurse dealt with me that day, just to say that all was exactly the same as last time, it’s all stable and still dormant. Lots of smiles and thumbs up, a great result.
Death is a reality, when it happens is beyond most people’s control, so live your life to the full,be thoughtful and be kind, because you never know when your times up. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” More from Marcus Aurelius. Make do with what you’ve got, when you look at what you’ve got, and where you’ve been, it makes you feel greedy to expect any more, as you have so much already. That’s from me, I can be quite philosophical at times, I’ve always seen myself as a log floating down the river of life, and I’ll go where ever it takes me, and when ever I go over the waterfall to end my journey, the last thought I’ll have is what a great time that was. Not panicing about what I’ll miss out on in the future, that’s beyond my control. ‘Have the courage to change the things you can, the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ That’s another great saying. Now a word from Diogenes of Sinope (412 BC-323 BC) “It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.” We’ll bring Epictetus (50AD-135AD) in now “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” So many of these sayings is how I’ve got through my cancer journey without the benefit of knowing of these Stoic philosophers, but meeting some of them, quite by accident has been great, you can find them too at highexistance.com . This week they’re sending out daily emails for Stoic week, and if you put less thought for possessions and more for your loved ones and yourself, you can have a happier and more relaxed life. “Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.” – Epictetus. Take care, be strong and ‘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.
Believe 100% you will beat it. Go Vegan. Take CBD oil. Have chemo.