Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:56

Chemotherapy and my mindset (blog #3)

Written by

Hi, apologies for this generic update
Its been some time since I wrote with events of 2015, apologies if you have heard some of this before but I hope you do not mind a one size fits all email.
First some history:-

Some History

April 2014 ran the Brighton Marathon in 3-47-04, a personal best, entered the 2015 race.
May 2014 ran from London to Brighton in one go, 100k in 15 hours
October 2014 diagnosed with metastatic Prostate Cancer
Jan 2015 signed off sick from work as chemotherapy started 13th Jan
Feb 2015 my 50th Birthday

So I have now had 3 sessions of chemo, not much fun. I have got used to the surroundings in the hospital, the staff are wonderful but you can imagine not much smiling from the patients. I am very lucky that I have been able to afford to pay for private health care for the last 15 years or so as that makes a real difference, its a pay back I never wanted but now it is all I can say that 15 years of paying in previously with no return has now been worth every penny.
When I had my first session, I allowed what I had read and been told to take over my head about how awful I would feel and I remember shuffling out of the room afterwards and spending the next couple of days behaving like an invalid. Then even though I didn't feel great I decided that its up to me how I behave.
From then on I have got up every day before 7-00am and just got on with things, yes I am slower, more absent minded and on occasions daydream however I am convinced that doing physical things helps minimise the pain of chemo.
The side affects for me have been some nausea sensations, fingernails that feel like they have been hit with a hammer, bruising on my toenails, sore throat and tongue, no taste buds, sore chest, tiredness, hair loss, no need to shave and generally feeling a bit yuk. Chemo basically kills off anything fast growing (as cancer is effectively cells that have gone wrong and grow too quickly and in the wrong way) but as well as cancer it also kills off the healthy bits that grow fast including all your white blood cells ie immune system. The good news is that after chemo ends the healthy cells should recover.
My diet has become generally vegetarian with fish but not at the expense of a weekly "what I want "meal when I am out although funnily enough, "what I want" has become more healthy anyway. I have come to like green tea, pomegranate juice, walnuts and tomatoes amongst other things.
As for running, I worked out an achievable training plan for the marathon gradually increasing what I do, I am now running 4 times a week, last week 47k including one long run of 19 miles. The long run took me much longer than before but that's a blend of hormone tablets, steroids and chemo, the great thing is I can still run.
This week the long run is 20 miles and the next a race of 16 miles plus run home 6 miles afterwards, then its run less or taper as its called up to the 26 miles of the Brighton Marathon on 12th April.
I am fortunate that my best mate Jim is running with me so on the longer runs he is my back up, I now always carry a back pack with phone, money, extra food, drink, warm clothes and pick routes that circle where I live so I am never too far away if I have a wobble. The marathon has been a great focus for me as it takes my mind off cancer stuff, gives me another reason to stay fit, eat well and by raising a few quid for charity feel I am doing something that will help others in the future. Bring on the marathon is what I say now, I have visualised what I will be like when I finish which really helps when I feel grim before or during training, emotional will not be enough of a word for it.
I tried to research what extra things to do when running a marathon on chemo and I could not find a single thing on the internet, plenty of people running with cancer but not on chemo, I don't know what that says about me.
My wife Sarah has been unbelievably supportive, I must be so much harder to live with now than I already was, she has been my light when all else is dark and I could not be in such a good state as I am despite the cancer without her. Sarah has entered a 10k race that is parallel with the marathon in Brighton that starts 45 minutes before on part of the same course. It will be the furthest that Sarah has ever raced having done a few race for life 5k's before and I know how hard she has found the training but has never given up , its another way of her supporting me .
On the health side again, I have more tests coming up to see how I am fighting (or not!) the disease plus other ways of maybe dealing with it however either way, I have 3 more lots of chemo followed by 6 weeks of radiotherapy. That lot ends mid July, I understand that I should be worn out by then and will need some time to recover but hey I will also need another race to run after April so we will see! With a fair wind I should be back at work in the Summer, I do miss colleagues, clients and all I came into contact within my job. My only bit of preaching in this email to you is to make sure that you (or your husband/partner/mate/relative/colleague) go to the doctors if you /they have any changes "down there" (or anywhere else for that matter) after as little as a week. Unfortunately if I had had symptoms a year ago and gone then I doubt if I would have the negative prognosis I have, sadly my symptoms came when it had already taken a firm hold but Prostate Cancer (and most others) are generally fully treatable if found early, don't put off that visit to the Doctors!
Finally, I hope all is going well in your lives, I know some of you are also sadly fighting cancer right now or know another who is, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Think of me on the 12th April and if you want to share my message to others please do as it may be your action that makes a positive difference to someone you know.

Take care.

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