Developing some new rituals…

When I woke up this morning I reached out for my phone to check the time. There was over an hour to go before my alarm to go off. I saw a couple of messages which I thought *must remember to reply*. And then went on Facebook, as one does. I scrolled down and stumbled upon a sponsored article. For some reason I decided to open it “10 Morning Habits Successful People Swear By”

Silence

Go to bed early

Toss it aka declutter

Pack snacks: eat healthy pick me up snacks during the day

Get moving

Say Buh-Bye To THAT One Big Task

Eat a wholesome breakfast

Visualise

Wake up an hour early

As I was already up, I thought 1 down another 9 to go. Can I develop some successful rituals I thought to myself.

I sat down in silence and within moments I could hear the birds chirping. The silence was soothing, calming. I eased into a meditative state. I was grateful for the moment, the life force, the love around me, around us.

I repeated a few mantras; ‘there is no order of difficulty in miracles’. A miracle is what I need most.

I then got up and did a few movements that I learnt at the hospital yoga session I attended a couple of days earlier. My shoulders and knees have been troubling me a lot recently. The yoga has helped a lot, particularly the shoulders.

A nutritiously healthy breakfast followed.

Then it was time for that ‘say bye to that one thing’. That one thing that must be the most difficult thing to do each day.

I remember running for student union elections in 2004. That was difficult back then.

Once elected, they said I had to speak to 100s of students; a mass address. That was also difficult.

Then I remembered surgery last year. I was petrified at the thought of them cutting me open. Further difficulty.

But making my JustGiving fundraising page live? Making my fundraising Facebook page public?

Yikes, that’s a whole new level of difficulty altogether.

Taking myself out of the way, nervously putting my ego and my pride to one side, I knew it was time to do this. To give it my best shot. Getting the bits and pieces together had already stretched me, so going through with it will only make me grow some more I believed.

A convoluted thought process now perhaps; I might die from this illness, but I will grow in the process (not taller obviously but soul growth). I learnt what the Napoleon complex was only the other day lol, another story.

And so I took the plunge. Made a couple of edits, and pressed activate. I messaged a few friends and family members informing them that the page is live and then embraced the uncertainty, embraced the love that has and is in my life, and trust that I can only follow my intuition and do my best. That is all one can do, one’s best.

Back to the 10 rituals. I had a day a lot of which was scheduled away from home, so I decided to pack some healthy pick me up snacks; some blueberries, cucumber, strawberries…

As I type, I’ve completed 7 of those 10 steps. Sleeping early is still on the cards (almost), and I am sure to visualise before I go to bed. That leaves ‘declutter’ as the one I haven’t really thought about today, but I did have a major decluttering session a few days ago.

As I close up this post, I ask myself what is success. A question I wrote my dissertation piece on, some 13 years ago. Its a philosophical point I will aim to tackle another time. But for now, I will go to sleep with a lot of gratitude and if I am blessed to see another day tomorrow, then the intention is to go again. Start early, sit in silence, move, have a nutritious breakfast, do that one difficult thing, repeat the mantra’s, eat pick me up healthy snacks during the day, declutter, visualise, go to sleep early. Repeat.

The article I read can be viewed here:

http://www2.forbes.com/leadership/10-morning-habits-successful-people-swear-by/

Getting Back Up

Prior to the scan

As a lot of you know I went in for a scan on Thursday. I asked for lots of energy, the healing type before hand, and was overwhelmed with the abundance coming my way.

The process all took place at Harley Street. Harley Street is well renowned for private healthcare care, well I think it is. I’ve had that thought since I was a kid.

Now because I’m on a trial, my care has been provided by the Sponsor, in this case the drug company testing the medication on human samples. Other ways to access most probably includes private insurance or personal money. The last two options ruling out the majority of the UK population in my opinion. Just the other day I read a report that said half the population in the the UK do not have £500 put away as savings. The divide is real, it is sad.

Before I went in for my scan I asked my doctor; ‘will I get the results next week?’.

He looked at me with a puzzled look; ‘Mo, this isn’t the NHS, if I get the result today, I’ll call you later. If not today I’ll personally call you tomorrow’.

It certainly wasn’t the NHS. Now I’m not demeaning the NHS whatsoever. I am grateful for the care and attention the NHS have provided and continue to do so. The support staff, the nurses, the doctors, so many of whom I have met over the past year or so, always stop and ask how I’m doing, when I see them on my routine visits. Even my initial oncologist (the one who almost frightened the life out of me) sees me and makes conversation with a smile. My surgeon, sees me from afar and waves at me. Memories I hold very dearly. Not to forgot my nurse friends who always ask me about the latest phones, with me having to declare my bias towards Apple Inc.

The service I have received at Harley Street has been phenomenal. The extra resources they have is obvious. They have comfy sofas in every room, they have a high end florist come around every Monday to replace the flowers with the latest offering. And even the gowns are a level up…

pre-scan

…The waiting

Friday came and I was getting on with the day with a bit of writing. The type that was just in flow (not this piece, which also feels as if its writing itself). But then the messages were coming; ‘have you had the results yet?’. Forget forgetting about the scan, the wait had begun.

the wait

Then the call came

‘Mo, its not good news’, how many times have I heard that before, I thought to myself. Maybe its in the doctors manual titled; ‘The best ways to let someone know its bad news’. I don’t know if such a book exists, but I do think it’s necessary, there are definitely ‘good’ ways to speak to a patient, I have been on the receiving end of some ‘bad’ ones.

He delivered his assessment. In short,

  1. There is growth in the existing Lymph Nodes (not good)
  2. There are new lymph nodes (not good)
  3. It is localised to within the LN, so hasn’t spread to the organs (good)
  4. We need a new plan

Absorbing the info

It hit me hard. Another blow had been struck.

Sitting in the corner of the ring, I was blowing my nose for the next couple of hours as the body released the emotion.

the not so good news

I am blessed with all the love and support that I have, yet part of me wanted me to just be with myself. And I respected that.

I felt angry. I wanted to pick up the glass of green juice in front of me and smash it on the kitchen floor. I wanted to order a greasy pizza and forget the alkalising. I acknowledged the anger, but decided I wouldn’t let the rage bring me down to my primordial instincts.

I eventually spoke to my wise man Dr Kim, and as always, he delivered in helping me see the bigger picture. And just this morning I spoke to my other wise man Mr Parker who also has an abundance of wisdom at his disposal. For completeness, I do have a third wise man, Leonard, and I will be touching base with him too.

I connected briefly with my closest friends and my awareness shifts once more to remember #EachDayAsItComes

I am alive, still. I have a healthy heart; the lungs, liver, kidneys etc are all clean. I have my senses, I have my dreams. I have my family, I have my friends, I have support from so many places. I have so much to be grateful for.

And so, I’m up again, back in the gym, training for each day of my life.

“I hated every minute of training but I said… Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion” (Muhammad Ali).

The breakfast of champions 🙂

breakfast of champions

Love and Gratitude,

Mo

A tale of CT scans

This week is scan week. It’s when I go into the hospital to get a CT scan that covers the distance from my shoulders down to my thighs. The scan will give the doctors the latest picture of what’s going on inside my body.

The first of these scans was on the 6th December 2014, which was a bit of a ‘bonus’. I went in that Saturday afternoon dreading two cameras being inserted into me; the endoscopy and colonoscopy, to find out what was causing the pain. Such a long time ago it feels. The laxatives I needed to take as preparation for that day seems to be removed from my memory banks.

When I met Dr. Rahman that day, I remember questioning what a cannula was and whether it would hurt. A cannula gets inserted into a vein, allowing blood to be taken or for medicine to be inserted. That was ‘me’ back then, scared of needles being poked into me. The ‘me’ that couldn’t be a first aider because I would feel dizzy at the site of a bleeding nose. I would soon have to get over my fear of needles.

Dr. Rahman leading on the camera work was unable to finish the procedure because of a ‘rather inflamed polyp’ in my colon. He ordered an emergency CT Scan, and left me that day with the words ‘it’s either Crohn’s or Cancer’. The CT scan would confirm which it was.

Five agonising days and nights followed. I can’t remember much apart from doing a little research on Crohn’s. Dr Rahman’s words kept echoing in the canvas of my mind, those words were on loop, along with the lyrics from Alphaville’s Forever Young; ‘Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst… …are you gonna drop the bomb or not.’

And yes the bomb dropped. I was destined for regular scans.

I went in on the 11th March 2015 for the next scan. This was after 3 gruelling months which included pre-operative chemotherapy. The tumour I had was deemed too big to operate on back in December. This scan would either reveal the tumour had shrunk or not. Something I didn’t anticipate was for a doctor to call me after I returned home from the scan to inform me that they found a blood clot in my lung, and I needed to go into A&E straight away.

I was in hospital for over a week and kept under observation, and prescribed 6 months worth of blood thinning injections. I was resigned to daily needles!

Whilst l was laying on the hospital bed, a doctor came around and gave me a huge moment of relief, of gratitude, of thank you, ‘the tumour had shrunk, considerably’ he said. I didn’t hear the ‘considerably’ bit, ‘shrunk’ was more than enough. I had the welcomed tears.

I was now to be handed over to the surgical team. Surgery happened a month later, with the surgeons confident they ‘took it all out’. I was to be put on another 3 months of chemo as a precaution.

All this took me to August for scan number 3. This time around the mood was upbeat. The doctor said ‘the worst is over’. And I had just returned to work on a part-time basis. The song on loop this time was Not Afraid by Eminem. Yes I was a little nervous. So when I eventually met the doctor in September for the results I wasn’t expecting him to say ‘it’s not good’. There was new cancer, this time in my lymph nodes. I was stumped, I didn’t know what to do or say. More chemo was in store.

Prior to scan number 4 in December 2015, one full year since the initial diagnosis, I was told by the doctor that chemo would be indefinite, it was a case of disease management. Disease management, words you don’t want to hear. I vowed no more chemo, regardless of the scan results. After 18 rounds of chemo, ‘no more’. The song this time was Fight Song by Rachel Platten (this song is amazing).

Before I went in to get the results, I spoke to my wise man Dr Kim (my integrated physician) and he asked me to do an exercise. I was centred, I was calm, I was prepared.

The doctor said; ‘Its not great news’. I remained balanced. He went on to repeat ‘Its not great news’, a further two times. I remained in my zone. The cancer had grown, and chemo was no longer an option. I got my wish of no more chemo. I was to be referred to a research institute for experimental treatment.

I had scan number 5 in January, just before the trial drug was to begin, to get a new baseline. The doctor this time said there is no growth.

And eight weeks later I am scheduled for scan number 6. I had two doctors meet with me last week, when Dr. One said ‘maybe we should think about what we do if the scan isn’t favourable’, Dr Two replied, ‘we will have to think, but lets stay positive for now’.

This time there is no song on loop, no words from doctors sounding to the drums in my ears. There are no nerves. I’ve done a lot of mind, body, soul work, to a point where I feel I am done with ‘doing’. I want to take my consciousness to a level of simply ‘being’.

Just another day…

As I scrolled down my Facebook newsfeed yesterday morning, the first thing I saw was a ‘Happy Friends Day’ video montage commemorating Facebook’s 12th Birthday. I then carried on scrolling until I came across a post informing me that it was World Cancer Day.

‘World Cancer Day?’ I thought to myself. I wasn’t really sure what the day was meant to represent, because cancer is an everyday reality for many, including me.

It’s not like other so called ‘Hallmark Days’ where you send a card saying Happy Cancer. That would be a little harsh, right? But you do have to find ways to laugh. With recent well known deaths; Wogan, Rickman and Bowie, a friend said that the cancer charities must be happy with the donations that must be coming in, in their honour. Hmmmm, sometimes you just have to laugh.

I digress, back to WCD. Maybe it’s about raising awareness? Maybe it’s about raising money? About remembering those who have departed? Or possibly showing support for some of us still fighting? I don’t know.

What I do know is that cancer causes pain, pain that can last for a very long time. Pain not only for the one diagnosed, but pain for family members and friends. I also know that cancer causes a lot of fear, including the ultimate fear that is death. I have had to face and stare straight into the eyes of death. It had hunted me down and I could feel it breathing down on me. Oh those many dark nights of the soul.

Some people are able to keep a distance (for the time being) from the angel of death and find a cure and go into remission, and that has to be encouraging for those of us going through treatment. Many who have lived to tell the tale (or are still fighting) do incredible work to raise awareness, to help prevent someone else from getting the dis-ease, or to help detect the condition early by looking for and noticing suspicious signs. Early detection means a better chance of survival. I follow the work of Nalie on Facebook, http://www.nalie.ca/ who is a breast cancer survivor. She promotes a #FeelItOnTheFirst campaign getting women to feel their breasts on the first of each month, take a picture and then nominating others to do the same. For Nalie, the work never stops, it’s an everyday thing; whether it’s through her blogs, or talks, or interviews. It is very much her life.

Each cancer is different, and each type has different signs and symptoms. Too often it’s detected late, which is why it’s referred to as the silent killer. In my case it was stage 4, there are no stages after that. The statistics are alarming, according to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, and at the moment 42% are preventable (UK) with lifestyle changes.

It’s not like someone consciously lives each day thinking, ‘I might get cancer’, well I didn’t anyway. I lived a relatively healthy lifestyle. Facebook memories show the countless health and fitness related updates; all those 5km runs, the 10km ones, and all the gym check-ins. So when I was eventually diagnosed part of the process was learning as much as I could about what was to be in store. Yet nothing can really prepare you. I mean once the chemo started to kick in, I experienced the nausea, the sickness, the fatigue, the loss of taste, the mouth ulcers, the weight loss, the sensitivity, the mood swings, the anger, the sadness, the blood clot, the blood transfusions… I haven’t mentioned hair loss because I was lucky enough for my hair to remain to the surprise of a particular aunty. (I won’t forget the hair thing, the footnote at the bottom will explain if you haven’t heard the story already).

Cancer really puts a bad hair day put into perspective.

For family members and close friends the fear is there too. They want to help, they want to ease the pain, ease the suffering they see on a daily basis, but they too suffer. Seeing a loved one deteriorate from their everyday life must be tough. But they do an incredible job, they are a part of the journey.

I have been relatively independent from a young age, and as such relying on family and friends to help was a bit of a challenge. I very early on resolved in my head that I will let go and absorb and welcome all the help and support that comes my way. Cancer has been the biggest challenge I’ve had to date, and as such it needs a lot of support to bring it into balance.

I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life; my mum, my family, my friends, my wise people, my medical practitioners #TeamMo

And as World Cancer Day came and went for another year, the battle continues everyday. This post is in memory to all those who are soaring with the angels. They suffered, their loved ones might still be suffering, but I know they would have appreciated the love that came their way.

I just hope I can keep the love circulating for many many years to come.

[Oh and the footnote about the hair. A lot of times when I mentioned that I had cancer in the early days, people would look at my head and ask, does that mean you’re going to lose your hair. For me losing my hair was lower down on the list of importance. A few days into chemo cycle 1, an aunty called and the first (and only) thing she asked was “Does he still have hair?” “Yes” was my mum’s reply. “OK, that was why I called.” End of call. You just have to laugh.]

18 years…

Eighteen years ago to this day my first nephew, Syam was born. I waited and waited and waited all day for my brother to pick me up so I could go and see him for the first time at the hospital.

How time flies. I was 15 back then.

I reminisce watching Teletubbies and then the Tweenies with him.

I jokingly tell him that I ‘taught him everything he knows, and more’.

I remember the day I sat him on my lap as a toddler and put the wrestling on. The excitement on his face is still with me to this day. It was like he knew he was being let into something sacred, something special. He instantly became the newest fan. Impersonations of The Rock followed; “If you smeeeeeeellll what the Rock is cooking”, along with that raised eyebrow look. He is still a fan to this day. Oops, I’m to blame.

I taught him how to use a PC and the internet. Those years when connecting online meant a modem, a telephone line and waiting for that fax like tone.

At the age of 5 I taught him everything there was to know about Football Manager. We would spend many a time on that game. Damn, I bought him the latest version a few months ago. I’m such a bad influence, hahaha.

I always tried to be the best uncle possible.

If he asked me a question, I would always give it my best shot. If I didn’t know the answer, I would find out, encouraging him to do the research with me. In my youth I was a politics geek. Sky News was my default channel. One day he asked me what all the fire was about on the screen. I soon found myself explaining the Palestine and Israeli conflict to a kid who hadn’t even started school.

Cricket would become his number one sport. I bought him a cricket set and we’d go to the local park to dig in the stumps. I would stand at the bowlers end, bowling delivery after delivery. He would hit the ball all over.

As the years have gone by he still might be into wrestling and football manager, but his interests have grown too. My bookshelf has somewhat become a library for him. He’s always asking what book is next. I introduced him to Paulo Coelho, Eckhart Tolle, the Celestine Prophecy; and the next on the list no doubt has to be Gibran’s, The Prophet.

I studied Maths up to A-levels, but he intends to take it further into Degree level coupled with Philosophy. So much smarter than me.

As the years clock up, I have to work harder at keeping up. Our TV watching has moved on from the CBeebies; we now watch the likes of Suits and Gotham. Albeit in our own time, but we do compare notes.

It seems a bit of a paradox. The year just gone by, we have had very deep conversations related to health, life and death. He has grown up so much; these days he run errands for me, accompanies me to hospital visits at times, babysits his little brother.

Happy Birthday mate. I hope to see many more.

Love and Gratitude,

Uncle Mo.

Extra Time

2015 was a year of lots of hospital trips, doctors and drugs. It was also a year of deep and meaningful connections with friends and family. Other than all the medical jargon I was destined to learn, all the green juices I would drink, and all the coffee shop meet ups, it was a year of sport.

Whether it was Sky Sports on the tv, or Sky Sports on my phone, I would find a way.

Being all drugged up with chemotherapy, meant at times I had little energy to reply to a text message, times when I had zero concentration to read a book, times when, well it felt time wasn’t moving at all. During those times the easiest thing to do was to lay on the sofa and switch to one of those sports channels.

Sport was a welcome distraction…

As 2016 began I decided that without any chemo in the plans, I could finally get on with writing that book, finally complete those online courses, and ultimately make the most of whatever time I have left. It is time to unsubscribe my Sky Sports subscription

Right now, I am so tempted to talk about time. As Einstein said, time is relative, which has become a fascinating area of study for me, but that is for another…, occasion maybe.

… Football

New Years day, 2015, began with seeing my beloved Tottenham Hotspur (and Harry Kane) destroy Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. That’s right, destroy is the word. 5-3 the score, conceding five goals, Chelsea were made to look ordinary. Although a couple of months later, Mourinho would have the final say as he lifted the Capital One Cup. He said something like “we came here to win the trophy, not play a final. Yes, his Chelsea beat a very ordinary Spurs team. The season would end a further few months later with Chelsea crowned as Champions and Tottenham finishing 5th, once more.

Cricket

During my sociology years, I came across Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’, to prove loyalty to a nation. Growing up, Bangladesh only appeared on the news with images of flooding, and there wasn’t really a cricket team to support. Although when I discovered there was a team back in 1999, I would inevitably fail Tebbit’s test. I would cheer them getting a chance to play, let alone every wicket and every run. Bangladesh would rarely win.

So in 2015, I don’t know whether I actually imagined a year of wins for the Bangladesh cricket team. They beat England in the World Cup, they beat Pakistan, India and South Africa, all in One Day series’. Did I just even write that? Surely this can’t be true, surely I’m still drugged up?

Tennis

Federer is my favourite tennis player of all time. I just love the guy. He is the epitome of coolness. I don’t know if I was drugged up when I sent the following message to a friend; “If I was a girl, I would have Federer posters on my wall”. I am so desperate to see him win an 18th Grand Slam. 2015 wasn’t the year though, all the majors came and went, Federer always second best to Novak.

Boxing

I’ve never been real a boxing fan, but Sky Sports did an incredible job in hyping up the ‘biggest fight of all time’; Money Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao. Yes, I watched all the build up specials and decided to pay Box Office 20 quid for the privilege to watch the ‘fight’. Not only was I to lose £20, but I lost a few hours of sleep as I woke up at 3am. It was the worst decision of the year. Again, I blame it on the drugs. I vowed never to pay for a boxing match ever again!

WWE

I grew up watching Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart in World Wrestling Federation, renamed (after a legal claim from the WWF) World Wrestling Entertainment. The year just gone by I would find myself watching ‘Sports Entertainment’. Again, I blame the drugs. With all the science I was learning, I think my brain wanted to dumb down. Did I really spend hours and hours of watching men in tights hit each other with chairs and tables and ladders?

The Rugby

Well there’s not much to talk about. England failed to live up the hype in the World Cup, which by the way organisers classed as the 3rd biggest sporting occasion in the world. I don’t think so.

Although, in Rugby League (the proper type of rugby) England did beat New Zealand, a highlight, indeed.

F1

Cars going around and around, again and again. Hmmm, Hamilton drove away with the title again. Not much else happened.

But I think the ‘entertainment’ was away from the track. Red Bull vs Renault in a civil war of blame, was fascinating. And then there’s ‘the F1 boss’ Bernie Ecclestone; with his bizarre musings on both Putin and Blatter. About Putin, he said; “Super. I’m his best supporter”. About Blatter, he said; “I don’t think he should have ever stepped down, and I don’t think he should have ever been challenged, because it’s because of him we have a lot of countries around the world that are now playing football”.

How do these guys get to run the biggest sports (country in Putin’s case) organisations in the world for like forever?

Full time

Yikes, as I’ve just written my sporting high and low lights from 2015, I’ve realised how much time I’ve wasted; let’s just ‘blame the drugs’. I don’t think I can or even want to give up sport. Although, I do believe I will be a lot more selective about what I watch in 2016. No men in tights (WWE), no boxing, that’s for sure. Federer and Football are a must though, “Come on you Spurs”.

I think I might wright a review of all the shows I watched next; Suits, Gotham, House of Cards…

Each day as it comes…

A friend called me as the clock struck 12 midnight, on the 20th Dec. A rendition of the Happy Birthday song followed. Yes, I had just entered into the 33rd year of my being. On one level it’s just another day, just another birthday. Yet on another level, one I wasn’t sure I would see.

A few hours later, my almost 6 year old nephew, Ejaz called me, to also sing happy birthday. Only as he was counting the years, he continued on after 33. It made me chuckle, but its all the so called little things that make the biggest difference.

A year ago, before I turned 32, I remember speaking to my cousin; “dude, I’ve got some shocking news” and went on to say “I might only have another nine months left”. I was aimlessly walking up Tottenham Court Road, stopping occasionally to wipe away the drops which were streaming down my face. I was told those now infamous words; “you have a small chance of success” by the oncologist Dr Bridgewater. Since then it has been about #TakingEachDayAsItComes…

I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything to write about today, but the same friend mentioned above suggested I do. Not sure what to write about, I revisited my previous post.

I remember opening a new page and pouring my heart out, not really thinking about the words that were coming. It was a milestone moment, one where I wanted to capture my emotions, capture my thinking. A moment which I hope, I intend, and God willing I can look back upon in many many years to come. Counting those years with my nephews as they too clock up the years.

The response, to those words, was overwhelming. I had no need, no desire or feel any reason to shed a tear when Bridgewater, a few days earlier, said “the cancer has grown, we have run out of chemo”. Yet the comments, messages, phone calls that came after the post, had me in tears. I was flooded, speechless and full of gratitude; for the love and support with which I am blessed #TheLittleThings

Thank you, from each cell of my being.

Having a life threatening diagnosis has required me to learn as much as possible, to get an understanding of what’s going on inside my body. I’ve learnt that in cancer, some of my cells have gone astray. Maybe they felt alone, as they decided to separate and go off on their own. As part of the healing process its my job to bring them back home. To welcome them back, just like the father did with the ‘prodigal son’, with unconditional love and compassion. To remind them they are all part of a whole.

Although maybe the cells haven’t gone astray all, maybe they have been trying to wake me up to life; to notice all the little things, to find meaning, to remind me of unconditional love. I remember once hearing someone say; “the meaning of life is to give life meaning”.

As I enter my 33rd year around the sun, I would like to thank my cells, my tissues, my organs, my bodily systems (nervous, respiratory etc), my body; for serving me for all these years.

One thing I’ve learnt this year is not to take anything for granted. Anything can happen, at any time and take life on a totally different trajectory. There is a field of infinite possibility and as I re-learn about cells, molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles; I do intend to enter that field and re-align my entire being to be of service. To live a life of no regrets.

I take a moment now to remember those who have come and gone, over the generations. Their stories are embodied in ours, of which we may not even be aware. I know they are soaring with the angels. As Rumi said; “When I die, I shall soar with the angels and when I die to the angels, what I shall become you cannot imagine”. How amazing it will be to soar with the angels, although I pray each day for a bit more time, to do the work I was born to do here on this plane.

I commit to continue taking each day as it comes, or rather living mo-ment to mo-ment for now.

Because meanings matter…

The 11th of December will never be the same. It was a day that changed my life, and the meaning it has, forever. Today is one year since Mr McCullough, gently nodded his head and quietly said “yes, it’s cancer”.

Everything inside of me just wanted to crumble away, to wash away into the ocean with tears, but there was a part of me that said ‘stay strong’. I remember saying to a friend once, when they shared the news of cancer of a loved one, to stay strong. It was a moment for me to take that advice myself and be strong, whatever that meant. If I didn’t it would make me a hypocrite.

I knew I needed to stay strong for my family, my friends, for the doctor and nurse who were in the room. Yes my eyes welled up as I looked at Jacquie (cancer nurse) and then my sister. Staying strong in that moment meant absorbing as much information as possible. Mr McCullough drew pictures, he explained a plan of action, and gave me the time and space to ask as many questions as possible. He reassured me that if any further questions came to mind, to write them down and ask via email.

What a year it has been.

18 cycles of chemotherapy

1 major surgery

A blood clot detected in my lungs, followed by a 9 day hospital stay and 9 months of daily blood thinning injections

2 blood transfusions

But, I do still have my hair 😉 (to the aunt who wanted to know if I’d lost my hair a few days into my treatment)

What’s next?

Well 2 days ago, my oncologist started the consultation by saying “not great news”, and he repeated “not great news” again, at possibly my apparent centred, unshaken self. (Dr Kim set me an exercise that helped me immensely, which I will inevitably write about soon)

The remaining cancer had grown. The chemo didn’t work; either it stopped the rate of growth or had no impact. “We have run out of chemo” he went on to say. I’m now to be referred to the ‘Sarah Cannon Research Institute’ for trial a treatment which has “seen good results”. I don’t know much about what that involves at the moment.

Now I don’t know if I will see another 11th December. To be honest I don’t know if I’ll see another day, let alone my 33rd year of being (which I’ve been reminded is in a week or so). ‘Each day as it comes’ has been a mantra for me for the past year. Upon waking each morning I say ‘thank you’. I say thank you because life is precious. Every moment matters.

There are only two certainties I have in this 3 dimensional world of our senses;

One: This moment right now, there is a life force inside me, inside everyone else who is still breathing, a life force connects us all

Two: That I will die to the body one day.

In between those two certainties, lies an abundance of uncertainty. “Falling in love with the unknown” has been a new mantra in recent months.

What I’ve learnt this past year is that there is meaning in everything. That meanings matter.

That I matter, that you matter.

If you are still reading, I honour you and salute you. If you’re not; I also honour you and salute you.

I appreciate the demands this world has on us. The demands on our time, our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions, our energy, our being. A world where videos are 7 seconds long, where photos self destruct in 10 seconds, where thoughts are to be expressed in 140 characters…

There are too many people to thank in this post, but I thank you for being in my life and for being a part of my journey, and for me to be a part of yours.

I’ve learnt to appreciate all the little things that are so easy to take for granted.

A simple text message, a phone call, a meet up, or even the suggestion; “can you meet up for a drink”. Every encounter has meaning, and I am truly blessed to have the people who are in my life.

I know what it feels like to be alone, to be in the company several people appearing to be fine, but deep inside feeling like life has come to an end, that its not worth living. This was back in 2008, and I was blessed with amazing souls back then as I am right now. I’m reluctant on ever giving advice, or saying what someone should or shouldn’t do, but if you can sense or intuit someone going through a tough time, do reach out even if its a simple random message, it might make all the difference, because meanings matter.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about death or dying. It’s not from a place; “Oh my God, I’m gonna die”, but from a calm and centred place. I am at peace.

I am.

Thank you, I love you.

‘Hoping for the best but expecting the worst…

It was exactly one year ago, the 6th December 2014, when I went in for the dreaded endoscopy and colonoscopy. Two camera’s to be put inside me to ‘find out what is going on’, as the doctor in A & E said some 6 weeks earlier.

I can’t remember much of the morning from that day, but can clearly picture everything that went on in the hospital. I was in a room which had posters from children’s TV, whilst the nurse carried out the prep; lots of questions, the consent form, as well as fitting a cannula. A cannula being the first of several new medical terms I was destined to learn over the coming days, weeks, months and year. I was introduced to Doctor Rahman who was to be the person in charge of the procedure. He ran through the final details answering several of my questions, one of which being; ‘Will it hurt?’.

colonoscopy

Did it hurt? Damn, it was excruciating. As they put the camera down my throat I kept wanting to gag. The assistants kept telling me to breathe, easier said than done. The endoscopy was relatively quick. The colonoscopy however, seemed to last an eternity. They kept pumping air inside me as they manoeuvred the camera through my colon. It was painful, it felt extreme, and I kept thinking to myself; ‘How much longer?’.

Once it was over Dr. Rahman gave me an update. He said the endoscopy was clear, but the colonoscopy wasn’t. He went on to say they found an ‘inflamed polyp’ which was ‘too large’ for them to examine the entire colon. As such they were going to carryout an emergency CT scan (that very afternoon) to determine more information. He said they took a sample of the polyp which will be sent for a biopsy. His lasting comments to me were ‘you either have Crohn’s disease or cancer’.

I had the CT scan shortly after, and in the recovery area the biscuits and tea were much needed. I was starving. The colonoscopy required me to take gut clearing fluids (laxatives) the evening before to empty the bowel, not fun at all!

The cruel predicament; when ‘hoping for the best’ meant Crohn’s but ‘expecting the worst’ meant cancer. I had Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’ on loop for the next few days.

‘…are you gonna drop the bomb or not …let us die young or let us live forever …sitting in a sand pit life is a short trip …forever young, I want to be forever young’

One year on and the irony (Is that even the word?); the universe seems to have a cruel poetic rhythm. Just as a song is played on loop, stories seem to recycle and repeat over and over. I had a CT scan earlier this week and I’m waiting for the results in a few days…