13th July 2021 – 4 Years since SCT, Mental health,wellbeing, and much much more

This is really a long awaited article and covers a vast area. But first and foremost this day 13th of July 2017 4 years ago I had a full Stem Cell Transplant. So much has happened since but the most important part is survival. So much of my recovery was based on a positive attitude and constantly pushing myself to get better.

These past 4 years have been an experience to say the least. We lost a lot of so called “friends” between 2014 and 2017 because they simply couldn’t genuinely care and/or accept that I had a terminal cancer. It separates the real people that care about you from the phony twofaced pack. I have seen so much more in the past 4 years than I had in the previous 50 odd years on this planet. But it has been great to get to a level in life where you really feel you have helped others. Parts of the past 4 years really stand out in my mind. Obviously been told in November 2017 that I had my first cancer clear PET scan ever was amazing. Been placed in full remission in March 2018 was the cream on the cake. Losing my Mum to vascular dementia in April 2018 was to say the least devastating for me, I miss her so much every day. Getting a new job in Nov 2018 placed smiles on so many people’s faces, no one believed that I would be capable of getting back but I should not be underestimated. I meet some truly incredible people since been diagnosed and we keep in regular contact. I have also had the displeasure of meeting some right idiots, you know the type that say “I heard you were unwell” seriously ????? “How did you manage to get that” …. “I know someone that had exactly what you had” best answer to that is Are they dead …. and a classic “ I should have known your still sick” WHAT !!!!! my answer in reflecting this should have been ” So a panel of world class oncologist including 3 professors and the fact I’m still alive means I am CANCER CLEAR you gobshite But beyond all this negativity my positive attitude remained unaffected and grew.

(DEFINITION of a Gobshite (plural gobshites) (Ireland, slang, moderately offensive) One who engages in nonsensical chatter or unwanted conversation. A stupid, foolish, or incompetent person But my absolute favorite “Someone who talks an absolute load of bollocks & has nothing meaningful to say. They just talk complete and utter shit.” other example What’s that gobshite talking about now?) 

Here are ten things that a person with cancer should never have to hear:
  • “Well, at least you have the ‘good‘ kind of cancer
  • “Do they know what caused your cancer? How did you get that?”
  • “How far along is your cancer?”
  • “You really don’t look that sick”
  • “God must have a plan for you!”
  • “I know someone that had exactly what you had”
  • “I know someone that died of that cancer”
  • “I am so so sorry for you”
  • “Have you tried alternative medicine?”

And I am now adding this for those in remission

  • “ I should have known your still sick”

Landing into the current Pandemic was a setback for me business wise. Covid hit Ireland in Feb 2020, work literally doubled overnight. We were the main transport agent for the HSE (Irish Health service). By late February my medical team were pushing me to isolate. I had a meeting with my oncologist in March and he wanted me to isolate and I said no. But about a week after meeting him I started to show signs of Covid – actually 4 of the 5 main signs. I had a rapid Covid test which came back as a false negative. The results came in two calls – the first was on Wed morning the 8th of April – the nurse told me the results were negative. The second call hit later that day from the medical team, they had relooked at the results and classed the results as incorrect, it was the first time I had heard the medical term “false negative”. I had a lengthy discussion with the doctor and explained that I felt like I had a bad cold. The doctors words were “Isolate or I will report you to the police” enough said I headed home. But there was one more shock to add to the year, Anita got confirmed news the she had Cancer. Doctors were fast to respond after diagnosis – the Cancer group was classed as Skin Cancer but had spread the full diagnosis defined it as VIN Cancer with a full operation set for 22nd of April 2020. The 9th of April was my Mum’s second anniversary a really difficult day for me. I called our MD to update him on the medical decision which led to a serious disagreement. However I battled the cold, it took 2 antibiotics and a 5 days of steroids to control it. The effects of this Covid included serious difficulty breathing and had lasted 4 weeks. But the medical team refused to sign me back into an office based working environment not only for my protection but to protect others like my team, they felt that I had successfully run the business from home for nearly 4 weeks and they had no issue with me working from home. My employer was not happy. But I managed to run the entire operation at a profitable level up to late Sept. I met the oncologist and he would not allow me return to a fulltime office based role, absolutely no way. However I did have him agree to allowing a split of 20 hours in the office a week and the remaining 40 hours from home (no joke I was pushing 60+ hours a week). Again this led to a more serious issue with the MD, but I was not prepared to allow the disagreements go any further and I agreed to be laid off from 1st of Oct. By November Ireland was starting to lock down again and by New Year I had a direct instruction to isolate. Finally the vaccine started to show positive signs of been okay for Cancer victims and I got both jabs. I was cleared to return to a working environment but to exercise caution.

So as I write this article I am actively chasing my next challenge. I started in Freight Transport logistics and distribution in 1980, that’s 41 years of experience, 35 of them in senior management/director roles. It is a business I truly love, since 1980 I have never been unemployed up to Oct 2020. The fact that I dived into renovating my home saved a serious mental health issue. But right now its July and all projects in the house are completed. I have a few opportunities on the spectrum with two of them really looking good. But I am holding back on discussing this further as this post is very public.

What a difference 4 years have made, this was a photo taken in prior to the Stem Cell Transplant in July 2017

And this photo was taken last week.

And today the 13th of July 2021 I have met with our newly appointed auctioneer Ms Rachel Sarah Murphy. I’ve known Rachel for many years as Rachel has consistently followed my article’s. My decision to go to the market with our house is based primarily on removing any location issue that may arise. I don’t want to limit my job search to Cork. The house and gardens have been extensively renovated over the past 8 months. It needs nothing only a good family to love it. Rachel feels it will sell fast.

I have a meeting organised with my Ophthalmologists on Friday for a right eye booster (ahhhhhh) but by then I intend to finalise the small jobs left in the house.

Mental health definition

“a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being”

Below are seven aspects to focus on to help you stay mentally well.

  • Stress Relief
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Connection
  • Physical Activity
  • Be Kind
  • Spirituality

I have been studying psychology for many years now and it is a subject that not only fascinates me but it inspires me. The power of positive thinking has without doubt helped to battle my war with cancer.

As a cancer patient I have had to deal with rejection, social isolation, physical and mental stress, ignorance towards illness and so on. I commenced removing negativity from my life in 2014 and to this day I continue to insure that no matter how bad a situation becomes I will always look to positive elements.

The 7 points above are the medical solution to mental health- what do you think ?

Yes they all play a part in mental health but are these points helpful – my answer is maybe. But they miss out on positive thinking.

A statement by the seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes. “ I think; therefore I am” was the end of the search Descartes conducted for a statement that could not be doubted. He found that he could not doubt that he himself existed, as he was the one doing the doubting in the first place.

But let’s add one word

. “ I think positive ; therefore I am

I’m not going to spilt this article into sections. My initial thoughts were to approach each area of mental health impacts like Cancer and Covid but as I commenced writing I decided to combine everything. Where I also intend to give examples of my own approach I would ask you to consider the relativity of the examples that I use and how best they can help you. Please be under no illusion that mental health is only one element in battling illnesses but never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

“And if you can dream it, you can become it . . . ‘ – William Arthur Ward.

Those who have followed my articles over the years would generally say “I love his positive approach” even my oncologist would say that. When I was first diagnosed on the 14th Feb 2014 I was alone in a hospital bed. My oncologist sat down and said “You have cancer” he went on to explain the type of cancer, the medical approach, staging and possible outcomes. But all I really heard was “Cancer” and “Hodgkins Lymphoma” I believe right at that moment I made a decision, that decision was to kick the shite out of cancer little did I know what that would entail and how long it would take.

Mental Health – Two word that now mean so much to all of us.

Definitions 

Mental “relating to the mind”

Health:. “the state of being free from illness or injury” and “is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in which disease and infirmity are absent.”

By combining them as Mental Health:  defined by the World Health Organization, is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”

W.H.O clearly define Mental Health in a positive light. But unfortunately when we hear about Mental Health we consider more of the pressence of “Issues”

Mental Health Issues: Classed as Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors

I wrote an article in Mental Health August 2018 This artice was well received by our readers and I have linked backed to it. In the article I went into how stress is one of the biggest contributors to mental health issues, what I intend doing here is pointing out some of the serious issues that I have been challenged with since 2014.

The top five most stressful life events :

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Moving or selling your home.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Job loss or new job.
  • Divorce.

 Some of the Issues I have confronted since 2014

Diagnosed 14th Feb 2014 HLD Stage 4 Major illness or injury

Chemotherapy ABVD Commenced Major illness or injury

Declared Chemotherapy Steroid induced Diabetes May 2014 Major illness or injury

June 2014 Bleomycin attacked right lung Major illness or injury

Radiotherapy to right side neck  Nov 2014 to Dec 2014 Major illness or injury

Terminally diagnosed Dec 2014 less than 8 weeks to live Major illness or injury

Peripheral neuropathy sets in Jan 2015

Injection to Right Eye June 2015 Major illness or injury

Tonsillectomy July 2015

Remission Feb 2016

Lost my Company Dec 2016 Job loss or new job

Declared relapse both HLD & NHL urgent rescue required March 2017 Major illness or injury

Terminally diagnosed again March 2017 given less than 10 weeks to live Major illness or injury

ICE Chemotherapy April to May 2017 Major illness or injury

BEAM Chemotherapy July 2017 Major illness or injury

Stem Cell Transplant July 2017 Major illness or injury

Terminally diagnosed given 6 hours to make any calls I needed July 2017 Major illness or injury

Remission March 2018

My Mum passed away from vascular dementia April 2018 Death of a loved one

Sold my Mums house Aug 2018 Moving or selling your home

New Job Dec 2018 Job loss or new job

Fatigue and Peripheral neuropathy Feb 2019

Moved to new home June 2019 Moving or selling your home

Eye Stroke – June 2019

Eye Stroke – Sept 2019

First Hemiplegic Migraine attack 4th Nov 2019 Major illness or injury

GP Placed me on antidepressants 15th Nov 2019

Hemiplegic and eye strokes but confirmed Work related stress Major illness or injury

Suspected Covid19 April 2020 4 weeks Antibiotics followed by steroids Major illness or injury

April 2020 Anita diagnosed with VIN cancer but successfully removed by surgery

May 2020 second major Hemiplegic attack Major illness or injury

Advised to continue working from home and remain isolated from May 2020 September 2020 arguments with employer over isolation leading to been let go Job loss or new job

Feb 2021 officially In full remission 3 ½ years

May 2021 Pfizer Vaccination

Late June 2021 cleared to return to a working environment

July 2021 House placed on Market for sale.

Much more expected to follow including new job, new home and God knows what else.

Its quiet a list and in reality 23 serious stressors in 7 years. Yet I have remained 99% positive throughout these massive hurdles. The one that really hurt the most was watching dementia consume my Mum, where it ended with her death, out of all the issues I have faced this was and remains to be a serious cause for mental illness for me. It is my belief that the level of stress created was because I had no real control over the situation. I’m not a control freak but since 2014 I have been constantly in control of both my medical & psychological well-being.

Some people will read this “they’ve been through hell”. But we don’t look at it like that. Both of us laugh and smile every day. Even throughout the medical problems we were capable of keep our humour up. It all added to the positive mental attitude.

And finally 

The blog site is doing great. Started with just a few people we knew and has grown over the past 4 years to 33,867

E-Mail ian@hlai.ie

Linkedin Profile: www.linkedin.com/ian-f-doherty-pc

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hlai.ie

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