Is it life changing?........
Cancer has touched a number of family members throughout my life - not that long at 44, but it really affected me most when my Mother was diagnosed at 50 and died at 51.
I must admit, it had a pretty profound affect on me and my family and although it was over 15 years ago it still remains with me.
So, having never even considered that i would ever get it, i was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, Diffuse Large B Cell on Friday October 5th 2007 at 5.10pm. I was 40 years old, married with 2 beautiful young boys both under 5. Its funny how profound moments in your life stay etched in your head and this was certainly one of them.
The realisation of the enormity of the whole journey came over me in incredibly powerful waves - very frequently at first, and none more so, when i saw the x-ray of my chest showing a mass of 11cmx7cm right in the middle, a big white cloud! I was petrified.
However, the team in Glan Gwili were just magnificent and my Consultant and the Senior Team there kept me focused. 8 courses of Chemo - one every 3 weeks for 6 months was the first assault. Followed by a multitude of scans and checkups, then - in their words, 'were going to throw the kitchen sink at it'. 2 x seperate weeks of 5 days Chemo at UHW, then a gap and then a Stem Cell Transplant again at UHW, finally followed by 3 x weeks of radiotherapy every day at Singleton.
After all that, you know it then ironically, became the hardest battle for me. Just coming to terms with the whole thing. But one thing that i had in spades, was Hope. I never gave it up!!
I worked throughout all of my treatments, obviously when i felt rough or fatigued, i stayed home, but when i felt at least a little better, i went to work. Even went to work every day after my Radio. I thought i was Superman.
How wrong i was!!
The ALL CLEAR came in April 2009. Complete Remission. But, then things became difficult
Emotionally, physically and phsycologically its draining and you do not realise the enormity of the 'the journey' and the trouble is, there's no rule book. You get great advise from many quarters and there are a million books and of course the internet - stay away from it!
Throughout Wales and the Uk, we are blessed with exceptionally gifted and dedicated Cancer Charities and organisations that have specific skills in helping patients and their families get through all elements of the journey.
My journey has enabled me to reflect and consider where i am. But, its taken me up till this year to be able to focus on that. Everyone has a different path and that moment of clarity and epiphany comes to everyone - you just dont know when.
So, what i try and do is 'give back'. Give back as much as i am able to (i still have a few lingering issues, nothing major though), whenever i can for whoever i can.
Is Cancer 'Life Changing'? I certainly think so and i wish and really hope everyone who is touched by this disease has the ability to make the most of the growing help and support thats out there to help them through 'their journey'. And if my experience helps and guides someone else, then i feel that it would have been fullfilling my journey