I have not posted for a while but time for an update and when better than Friday the 13th
Yes I’m superstitious I’m Irish and allowed to be.
So let’s look at July 13th – but July 13th 2017 Exact one year ago today I was in St James Hospital Dublin, just 24 hours over 6 days of one of the most aggressive forms of chemotherapy know to medical science called BEAM, and I underwent a full Stem Cell Transplant
B.E.A.M is named after the initials of the chemotherapy drugs used, which are:
BiCNU ® – carmustine
Ara-C – cytarabine
B.E.A.M is basically a rescue regime and an extremely aggressive therapy. It is aimed at destroying anything in the body that can regenerate. Have no doubt this type of Chemotherapy can kill a person
As I said it is extremely aggressive and makes all previous therapy’s like ABVD and ICE feel like a walk in the park.
Where most Chemotherapy drugs are aimed at attacking cancer cell, tumors or growths BEAM is aim at killing any cell that can regenerate.
I am lucky as my body can handle large quantities of chemotherapy drugs but this one nearly caught me, I did say nearly….
That commenced on 6th July 2017
STEM CELL TRANSPLANT
so 12 months ago following BEAM chemotherapy I had my transplant.
A little catchup here. I had my stem cells harvested on the 6th June 2017 following ICE Chemo – it’s called autologous stem cell transplant as there was no time to find to find a donor. ICE Chemo is to kill cancer cells and prevent generation of cancerous stem cells. The aim is to produce fresh stem cells. On the 6th of June I had a little over 75million cells harvested (you can read about this in previous blogs I have done)
So officially the day following the STEM CELL TRANSPLANT on the 13th July I entered palliative care
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a terminal diagnosis.
I was placed on a morphine pump and all drugs were via IV. To be honest looking back now 12 months later I was seriously facing death.
Stage 4 Lymphoma… Diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkins Lymphoma Feb 2014, remission Feb 2016, Relapse March 2017, Rescued therapy Stage 4 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and REMISSION again March 2018.
I have not just beaten Stage 4 cancer once but twice in 4 years
But it’s not easy and it takes 100% commitment. And when you hear the words “Your cancer clear” it is unbelievable.
Physically I’m doing better than expected. I average 70,000 steps a week, which is what the heart foundation recommends for people in their thirties. I don’t push it but it took nearly six months to achieve this. I’m now exactly 81kgs in weight, 14kgs lighter than 4 years ago and 5kgs lighter than last June but I regained from the 78kgs I was at last July. I feel strong and I feel good. What else matters
A subject I have approached more than once in the past and this was encouraged by a friend (Sinead). I have had a very strange year to say the least. This time last year I was dying, I was fighting for my life. 9 months ago I knew I had gained the upper hand and commenced studies as the medical team would not allow me to return to work. I achieved 12 diplomas and 6 certificates within the transport industry topped with 3 distinction diplomas in psychology. I have had to deal with a three month wait to be declared all clear which was rapidly followed by the heart breaking news that my mum was dying (she had entered a retirement home in August 2016 and had been diagnosed with vascular Dementia, in the following 20 months she never failed to recognize me and always enjoyed a good chat) in March 2018 she took a turn for the worse and had two battles with pneumonia ending with bilateral pneumonia which caused her death on 9th April 2018. I then faced all the legal ends & prepared the family home for sale. The house sold within 10 days of been placed on the market.
So declared terminally ill, dealt with the passing of a parent, sold family home – all classed as major stressors but to balance I had entered remission, achieved academic awards I never dreamed of getting and I have been offered employment in three countries over the past month.
April & May are a blur to me and I spent most of June getting my mindset back in place. The death of my Mum was devastating to the point of been more difficult to handle than stage 4 Lymphoma but I managed it and mentally I am now in a really good place. I have had some great support especially from my soulmate Anita.
But there are other struggles out there even after you have beaten cancer. They range from acceptance back into society, attempting to turn the clock back and re-entering work. I am going to talk about this a little in this blog but with my attempt to restart my career I need to be a little restrictive.
Now you would think this is easy but it’s not and I am sure every cancer patient would agree. During therapy people generally don’t know what to say or how to approach you, friends will walk away and people will ignore you. It’s a fact. So you battle for your life and win, and people generally don’t know what to say or how to approach you, friends will walk away and people will ignore you. No difference except your getting better and those who are your real friends do know what to say and are helpful. From my point of view I don’t understand the mindset of those who think cancer kills anyone who comes in contact with it – pure rubbish just ask the 20m plus worldwide. You need to understand that there are so many types, stages, treatment and research that segregation is impossible- for example in my case the initial diagnosis was poor as I had an advance level Stage 4B Hodgkins Lymphoma- 51 when diagnosed, life long heavy smoker and in okay physical shape (maybe a little overweight) so the chance of recovering with Chemotherapy was about 35% this rapidly declined when the chemotherapy failed and I had to do radiotherapy in Nov 2014. By Dec 2014 my diagnosis was 6 to 8 weeks to live. But against the odds I survived and entered remission Feb 2016. Relapsed March 2017 to rescue for Stage 4 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma with a 5% survival rate. Yet here I am over a year later back in remission.
A message to those who turn the backs on cancer patients- your a shower of ignorant bastards and karma is real – stop making excuses and grow up.
When I was diagnosed last year and been very aware of how dangerous the situation was I immediately started to remove negative, I am not and never have been a negative minded person- throughout my life I have turned disadvantageous into advantages I have taken negativity and turned to positivity and so on. So any person or business that showed the slightest level of negativity were removed. That ended up been quiet a lot. The “we will be there for you” idiots we’re simply told to go away and leave us alone. Even the rumor merchants tried to spread negative reports about me which in some cases has come back to haunt them.
Karma is a wonderful philosophy one that I have great belief and trust in.
To all my fellow victims: believe in positivity & avoid negativity and always remember what comes around goes around. I’m here for anyone that reaches out but those who turned from me when I was ill will be treated likewise
Re-entering a working environment
And unfortunately this is where I need to be careful and restrictive. Most people who have been following my blog will be very aware that I have been direct about procedures and never restrictive but when you have a company constantly bad mouthing you and making calls to block applications to a similar industry then you have to be restrictive. A lot of this comes down to the attitude described above. I have been able to restrain, ignore and forget the backstabbing so called business individuals as they are simply the lowest form of life.
In reality all I want to do is return to the industry that I spent nearly 35 years in. For those that are not aware the industry is Road Sea & Air Freight forwarding.
Even with all that crap in the background I have had some fantastic interviews with substantial companies and I know most of them follow my blog. So I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the ladies and gentlemen both in recruitment agencies and corporate industries for your support and encouragement.
But beyond all of this it is great to wake up and get out of bed every morning. Not once since the 28th of July 2017 have I not done this. In all weather I took a morning & afternoon walk, something I believe has helped in my recovery. Yes there have been struggles – financial, mental, physical & social but we’re still here and loving everyday.
Appreciate life it is wonderful as you never ever know what tomorrow may bring