Wednesday 1 March 2023

Thought Picnic: Great capacity and gratitude beyond adversity

The days of then

In a life that has had the experience of many things, I find in each day, a cause to be grateful and thankful for life, even when other things are not particularly going right.

The 1st of March, 13 years ago would have been the 8th session of chemotherapy after which I felt I was ready to restart my life with no inkling of what the long tail of cancer would entail. It transpired that I did not have to take that last drilling of cytotoxic medication because when I saw a 9th session scheduled after I took my 7th, my consultant and the oncologist decided not to proceed with the 8th.

Just over 5 months of chemotherapy changed me, I had lost 25% of my body weight and though I had the willpower for a lot, there was little strength for much. My medical team felt I needed at least 6 months of recuperation, however, there were mounting bills and a mortgage I could not ignore. In the third week of March, I was back to work.

In adversity, see possibility

My team was very understanding, I was allowed to have Wednesdays off, and that meant, I had enough strength to work and recover. I look at that journey where if the chemotherapy did not take, I was given 5 weeks through the statistical information that people who were admitted in my state not lasting a decade after diagnosis and say I am exceedingly blessed.

It is the same spirit that informs my approach to many other hardships I have faced since then, part of which was selling up my apartment in Amsterdam at over a 10% loss, needing to return to the UK to start over again, along with a few downturns in employment prospects. There is hope and strength that powers me through adversity that keeps me full of gratitude.

A story shared

When I attended a support forum on how prostate cancer affects black men yesterday, I was surprised at how my own experience of cancer affected the participants, they all seemed to want to hear more and all I wanted to say was not to be afraid to have things checked out along with working with medical personnel for the best outcomes.

I thank God that I am here to share my experience and tell my story that even when you seem to be hopelessly staring death in the face with a stark and dire diagnosis, you can have hope and expectations to the point that when you look back the passage of time leaves in awe of the wonder of life. Shalom!

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