Most of you already know, but way of background, almost two years ago, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, had a tumour removed and a stoma created for urine. Since June 2016, I have been having Chemotherapy almost every forthnight. In December, 2016, new tumours were discovered in my lungs and pelvis.
I thought I'd write a little reflecting on my time being 'sick' and offer a few thoughts on what has helped me.
I feel very blessed that those I'm walking through life with, have been wonderfully supportive to me, and my family, and their support has often taken the form of some of the things listed below.
(1) Most important to me is continuing relationships as they were. I have really valued the conversations I've had with friends and family, and how these conversations have not only been about me, and how I'm travelling, but also feature how the local sports teams are going, the latest news in politics, music and cinema, I love hearing your hopes and fears, what's really going on for you. Yes, I may have an illness, but in many ways it isn't different to the cross you bear. Another way to put this is, while I have cancer, I am not only cancer. I retain all of the interests I've always had, and one of them is you, the person I'm speaking too.
(2) Time is so wonderful and a precious gift to give. I really enjoy spending it with you, doing what we always did. Sure, I do need to be more conscious of whether there are bathrooms, and if there are, are they easy to get to, but I'm otherwise the same. The hard thing here is I might sometimes need to say no, or cancel. Trust me, I hate doing it. My energy is so varied sometimes, each cycle is different. Know that it is not personal.
(3) Among the best gifts I have been given, aside from you and your time, was a box of DVDs, a hard drive with movies and a netflix voucher. At various points I've spent a lot of time sitting on the coach. I'm trying to, hoping to, do that less - but it is always great to have something to watch when I do. For my birthday last year, I was given vouchers or contributions towards nights or meals out. Fiona and I really cherish that.
(4) Another great thing is to bring home cooked meals. It is a wonderful feeling to know you don't need to cook, you can just throw something in the microwave at there's dinner. At the moment, I'm enjoying cooking, so we're okay.
(5) Another great thing you can do, is ask my family how they are - ask Fiona how she's doing and how the kids are going. They are experiencing it all too, in a different way, with different concerns, so it is great for them to know they're not alone. Get to know them for who they are. Please talk to us, before you talk with them.
The next few are things I'm learning or trying to learn (it is a slow process, two steps forward, one step back).
(5) The first is some thoughts about prayer. It certainly hasn't been easy to be faithful in prayer. It is a struggle sometimes. How do you prayer to 'The One Who Hears' when it seems He hasn't heard you. How do you pray for the same thing week in, week out. What should you be praying for, total healing, because if you have faith mountains will move, because God will give you the desires of your heart; for His will to be done remembering His will took Christ to Gethsemane, and beyond, for His Glory, and for our salvation.
It's a little of all of those right. I pray for healing, because I believe God's powerful, I pray for God's will to be done because that's salvation and redemption, ultimate healing and restoration.
I think what I'm learning about prayer is its communion with God, our Father. In whom is love and mercy. So I talk to him, and tell him all of that, I'm honest, I tell him I wonder where He is, but I love and trust Him completely.
What I'm learning, is to try and pray whether I feel I want to or not. God knows and loves me intimately, and He knows my longings, and what is ultimately best for me. Death and sickness are not natural, they will be done away with. Until then, we wait.
You won't find an answer to the question of 'Why'. I think it's better to think, how can I make the most of the life I have now been given, in other words 'Why Not Me?'. God, can and will use the experience to bring some good. Good, perhaps meaning changes in me, and others. If in walking this road, I've helped another traveller find their way , I can take comfort from that.
(6) I have also been thinking on how to help myself in the low times, when I just want to curl up into a ball. One of the ways I've learn to pick myself up is reminding myself of what I have been blessed with, or can be thankful for.
- The top of my list is my family, it is so very grounding looking a photos of my wife and our kids. The joy they bring is indescribable. It's the little and big things, wrestling the kids, listening to them giggle, sing, seeing the cheeky looks on their faces, building random vehicles or putting the Sylvanian families to bed, enjoying fish and chips at Balmoral, looking at the animals at the Zoo, reading and praying together.
- I'm so very thankful for my family, their support and prayerrs. I am so grateful that my brother and sister have come and sat through Chemo with me.
- Throw time with friends in next. One of my big highlights of the past few months was being able to spend quality time with my friends and their kids too.
- It is also great to make a list of things you can do, or remember doing that can build you up. For me so much of it is about music. Listening to music at home or while I'm out and about. I still love buying a brand new CD, opening to packaging, and reading the booklet while hearing the album for the first time. There's just something amazing about using all of the senses to hear a new album. In the modern age, I just download from itunes and listen through earphones, lying in the dark. I still think that is the best way to hear new music or discover old favourites. I also really enjoy putting CDs together for people too. so if you want some music let me know - and I'll put something together for you.
- I'm really thankful for books - I enjoy getting lost in a good story and I still really enjoying a bunch of non-fiction too. I haven't read too much about cancer, truth be told.
- I love a good film, with great characters and dialogue. Something to take me into another world, another time, and other lives.
- I just love looking at the world after a storm or rain shower - everything looks and smells fresh.
- Walks in the sun and just after a rain shower.
- Time spent on the beach, I'm not a big swimmer, but I love looking out onto the ocean, listening to the waves, building sandcastles.
- Seeing the sunrise - there's something special watching the light spread through the sky, and light up everything.
- I love watching people, seeing friends chat, parents interact with their children, kids running around playing together - creating elaborate worlds or stories.
- Coffee shared with friends or family. Conversations about anything and everything. I know I especially shouldn't drink so much, but life is short and coffee is great.
- Another is looking back on the memories I have. Memories of places I've been, people I have spent time with, and experiences I have had. All of them are positive energy and provide fuel for the fight.