The day after my first marathon I had my last dose of chemo of this current course. Quite a gruelling experience at the best of times, but a bit nuts after running a marathon. However, before I made it to hospital, I was invited on to the BBC Radio Lancashire breakfast show again to talk about my marathon. I was very tired, but Louise says it went ok.
When we got to the hospital one of the nurses called out that she’d seen me on the TV news. It was really sweet, but she did it in front lots of other patients in the clinic waiting room and I was a little shy about it all. I don’t feel I really deserve to be singled out, especially in front of fellow patients, some of whom have it a lot harder than me. It was a bit of a sign of things to come as a few others would also say nice things about my marathon run. I guess it shows the strength of the relationships we’ve built up with Doctors, Nurses and other staff at the hospital. We are lucky that the people we know, at hospital and elsewhere, like us and want to share in our successes, which is brilliant. But I’m just some bloke with cancer that runs a bit and it feels strange when people say very kind things to me, like I’m inspirational. I feel unworthy of comments like that and it’s really difficult to take sometimes. I feel like in my Cancer Adventure that I’m merely reacting to circumstance. All I’ve really done is maintain a positive attitude, admittedly through some pretty difficult circumstances. I know a handful of people that I feel are genuinely inspirational, people who give up their time to help others, in ways I could only dream of. In the situation I find myself in I’ve just looked after myself and often struggle even to do that. Let alone look after my family. Pete, a friend of mine said that people come away from talking to me about my cancer, and the seriousness of my illness, feeling happy and uplifted. He thinks this is because I’m very positive and don’t get let things bog me down. Not simply that, but he said I never let my situation get anyone else down either. I guess he’s right. I always like to make light of my situation and concentrate on all the good things that have happened to me. You never know how you’ll react or behave if something like cancer happens to you and it’s pleasing to me that I’ve managed to maintain a positive attitude through it all. Like lots of other patients I like using humour as an antidote to the stresses of cancer. I like to tell jokes about the things that have happened to me. Two years in I’ve got a lot of material. Louise, bless her, has heard them all a million times and rolls her eyes whenever I trot them out. I blame my Dad; I’ve definitely inherited his poor sense of humour!
Anyway, a few other people on that treatment day said some very sweet things. I’m very grateful to them. I’ll remember all the things they said and do my best to use their positive messages to give me energy on my training runs and marathons. After a short wait we got to see our Oncologist, but before he came in a few nurses we know from clinic came into his consultation room to see us. It was lovely to see them all. We’ve known many of them for while and I’ve talked to a few of them about my running and the distances I’ve managed, so to see them the day after my first marathon was really great. After they left my Oncologist came in and we then spent more time discussing my race than we did discussing my treatment. He said some special things and praised me for running the marathon. I told him what I’d said on the radio the week before that he’s a special doctor, one that’s encouraged me to live life and squeeze the most out of the time I have left. I really feel that his care and attitude is definitely one of the core reasons I’m running marathons.
Turns out I’m the third patient in his care to run a marathon, which I think says a lot about how he encourages and enables his patients to achieve. I pointed this out to him, but in typically humble fashion he told me that it was all down to me and my attitude. Such a wonderful thing to say.
Another such man who’s also had a positive role in my treatment was the surgeon who operated on my bowel and gave me life in March 2012. We’d not really seen him since I’d recovered from surgery and hadn’t actually gone to see him, but instead a colorectal nurse who’s been a rock to us for the past two years. She was working in the Bowel Surgeon’s clinic and when he heard we were there he asked to see us too. He’d seen me on the news the night before and told me I’m an inspiration to many in my situation. Like the kind words my Oncologist said to me it was difficult to take especially as, just like our Oncologist, my Bowel Surgeon is one of the kindest and most compassionate doctors I’ve ever met.
Neither of them have any of the hubris and ego that might be associated with other high achieving doctors. Regardless of the whys and wherefores of the things they said about me it’s certain that my Oncologist, Bowel Surgeon and others at the hospitals I’ve been treated at are the reason I can run now! But as I left the clinic I couldn’t resist having a chuckle with the nurses about how much I was limping with all my post marathon aches and pains. The nurses in the treatment room, when I went for chemo later that morning, were equally as kind as the other medical staff I’d seen earlier. The nurse who administered my drugs encouraged me to wear my medal. I must say though, I felt I little ridiculous wearing it as the day wore on. I got more and more nauseous and felt further and further removed from my marathon running self of a day earlier.
I’ve now come to the end of my course of treatment, so tomorrow (22/04/14) I will be having that most anxiety inspiring of medical procedures for any cancer patient, the dreaded scan. I always think of chemo as being a bubble. Chemo is great. That might sound a little perverse, but I’m given a course of treatment that lasts 12 weeks and nothing can really happen to me in that time. While I’m receiving treatment as far as I, or anyone else is aware, I’m doing well, my health is great and my cancer isn’t growing. During treatment I don’t have any serous concerns and I’m not worried about anything. I just get on with life, spending time with my girls, running, just normal stuff.
The difficulties come with the last dose of chemo and the discussion of scan dates and dates for the post scan clinic appointment, when we get to hear our news. Even still, I won’t be dwelling too much on possible scan outcomes. I tend not to spend too much time agonising over things I can’t control, so it’s not going to get me down. Besides, the time spent lying down on the scan machine is always a great time for prayer and meditation.
Ben’s Bowel Movements. Running 6 marathons in 6 months in support of Cancer charities: