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New Year Resolutions

I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions, as I always knew I wouldn’t stick to them so I never made any, but having lung cancer and making it to another new year, why not, maybe I should make some and try to make some positive changes to my life, as according to my doctor, I shouldn’t really be here now, not that I ever believed the doctor, I always thought you had to be ill and feel ill to be dying of something, and I most certainly wasn’t ill enough to be dying of anything. So what can my resolutions be, thats if there’s more than one of them.

Firstly I’m a Wim Hoffer, doing breathing excercises with yoga and various excercises your suppose to do between each step of the course. I have hardly done any of this since July, since my rib has been hurting, which started after doing four rounds of deep breathing. It doesn’t hurt as much now and I’ve had five lots of radiotherapy on it, so hopefully that will start to ease soon. So the plan is to get back on track with the Wim Hof Fundementals course, and start to practice it everyday, if not daily then at least weekly. That includes the yoga before the breathing, and the homework between each step of the course, and of course the cold showers. You can find out more about Wim Hof and his breathing method here.

Second, writing this blog has been a lot of fun, so I want to do more writing, more blogs and even writing articles for magazines or the local paper. I’m writing a book and having radiotherapy has put the finish date of it back by a few months, so part of this resolution is to finish my book and get it published, either as an e-book or paperback or both, I don’t think it’ll make the New York bestseller list, so I don’t think getting the best deal would be too important, just getting it out there is the important thing, and getting it published.

Third, I can be a bit arty at times, and I enjoy creating stuff, it doesn’t have to be much, even just playing about with scissors and coloured card, cutting out the names of my grandchildren, they liked it, and I always enjoyed drawing and painting at school, so doing a picture or making something each month is something I want to do.

Fourth, has to be more swimming, if my cancer allows, and more running, getting fit again, starting gently and building up to getting below an hour for the London 10k in July and getting in around 45 mins for the mile swim in Swim Serpentine in Sept, and swimming it front crawl, the last two times have been breast stroke, and getting some chill swims in as well, I do enjoy a cold dip, which is part of the Wim Hof course that I enjoy, the cold showers, you always feel so refreshed when you come out of the cold shower.

So I think thats it :- sticking to the Wim Hof course more, more writing, being creative each month, and more swimming and running, that’s not bad for someone that doesn’t make any new year resolutions. This new year marks the end of my first full year of being affected by cancer, last new year, I had been ill since September, and no idea what the new year would bring, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it this far. But I have and I would say I’m thriving, I feel good and positive, and looking forward to a bright and long future, so I might as well make some plans and give myself something to do with all this time I’m going to have on my hands.

I’ll be seeing my oncologist in January, so we’ll take it from there after getting the results of my CT scan, and proceed into the future of this bright and prosporus new year. So thank you again for taking the time to read my blog and listen to my new year resolutions, and I’ll let you know how I get on with sticking to them, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all an amazing New Year and good luck to you all and that you have a healthy and happy 2020, be strong, think strong and do all you dare to dream, and find the strength and courage that’s already inside you to follow your dreams, whatever they are! Thats your new year resolution, I’ve just made it for you. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer and always 100% positive throughout 2020 and beyond.

Swim Serpentine, A Great End To A Busy Day.

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!

Swim Serpentine 2019, a great event. A screenshot of their homepage.

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.

This was a reply to a post on a cancer forum I’m on, ‘HealthUnlocked’, and when I read this I was gob smacked, this is truly amazing, well done Jeanette.

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.

An Amazing Week of Swimming

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 as she begins her amazing swim of the English Channel. Four times, there back there back.

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.

my ‘F**k You to cancer’ swim in April at Southend on Sea, water was a lovely 9.4c.

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.

Swim Serpentine booked.

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.

Here I am with my medal for my swim at the 2017 Swim Serpentine event, I had a great day there and completed my swim in 57 minutes, my target for this years event.

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.

Heres the row of hot tubs being enjoyed by so many after their swim at the Swim Serpentine event.

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.

This is my profile on Healthunlocked, this forum has been a great place for support and understanding. healthunlocked.com

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 is the page that I follow, with swimmers crossing the channel, I have so much admiration for anyone that attempts this crossing, whether they get to France or not, often swims go way over ten hours, how can you swim for that long? One day!!!!

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 glad I managed to get this booked, after the very kind receptionist in the Xray dept in Basildon Hospital managed to change the time of my scan.

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.