Our family’s journey with cancer started with a phone call after my husband’s colonoscopy – I was about to get on a chairlift on Cardrona ski field, so confident that the verdict would be hemorrhoids, when Mike rung with the results, ending the blue bird ski day. That day was followed by rounds of specialist visits and the news it was stage 4- news broken on our youngest child’s 6th birthday.
That day we hopped on a roller-coaster that often feels more like a steam roller, with torturous waiting periods in between scans for news that dictates whether the roller coaster is on its way up or the steam roller has taken over. Such high hopes after a positive response to chemotherapy and a successful bowel and liver operation. Hopes dashed with the news of the return of metastasis in the liver, another operation to see if we could quickly remove those, once again floored by the news even more lesions had joined those already there. More scans – more ‘scanxiety’ with news of spine and kidney lesions, followed by a brief reprieve with more positive response to chemotherapy, but a few dizzy spells marking the arrival of metastasis in the brain.
Amid all this Mike has maintained his sense of humour, his strength and resolution to face each challenge, and coped with side-effects of chemotherapy, surgeries and pain without complaint.
Exercise is key to maintaining an ability to cope with the everyday as well as crisis points in this journey. My training for the Vineyard Half, which doubles as my therapy is to walk to Hagley Park with my faithful dog Otter, and circuit the park – taking time to breathe, to enjoy the incredible place that Hagley Park is, and have my dose of nature as well as smiles from other walkers.
I have lately taken a more ‘serious’ approach to this training, timing my laps, recording my walks and taking a slightly more ‘competitive’ pace with other walkers.
I would like to say that that I am doing the half to show Mike that I am able to put up with a gruelling challenge like he does, that I am able to show grit and determination in the face of adversity but the reality is I am doing the half- 12km version because it will help me-the training, the weekend away will give me strength to help him.
Raising awareness of Bowel Cancer- a cancer that if caught early has such good odds, a cancer that affects young- many young, as well as old is something I want to be part of. It is such a commonly occurring cancer, but still a relatively little talked about cancer. Perhaps because we don’t like to talk about Poo and Bottoms?