Never Give Up, Never Give In!

If you have never read anyone of these 1,108 blogs then you will not be aware that over the last year I have been battling with cancer. I was diagnosed last September with level 4A bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is the s third biggest killer after prostate and breast cancer, (depending on which web site you choose to believe) To be perfectly honest I knew nothing about cancer indeed I was mis-diagnosed on three occasions, and was told that I had a virus initially salmonella and then something else, the name of which escapes me.

A CT scan and going private resulted in a diagnosis of a very large tumour on my abdomen. This resulted in my being told to go to hospital immediately where I was about to be operated upon by a very skilful surgeon called Miss Karen Busby. She over a four operation removed a tumour the size of her fist, I came to realise that in tumour terms this is a very big tumour. Unfortunately the tumour had got so big that it burst through the bowel wall and moved onto the colon and bowel. Nine times out of ten this is very bad news as usually the fleeing cancer cells jump onto the lymph nodes and then get a free ride to the lungs and kidney etc. Often this can be fatal, but unbeknown to me I had no idea what was going on I just knew that I felt very ill, lost a massive amount of weight ( from 76 kilos to 61 in 14 days) and just went with the flow.

I had absolute faith in the NHS, my experience was truly good, yes there were challenges like trying to sleep in busy wards when you get woken up every two hours to have your blood pressure tested. Waking up with a new plumbing regime was also an interesting side effect, what happens is that your posterior goes into early retirement and a new process is introduced. A part of the bowel is pulled out of your stomach and becomes a temporary waste disposal unit. This requires daily management with bags being enclosed around said bowel protrusion to remove the waste disposed, it sound horrendous but actually, you just get on with it. And it has its advantages you never get caught short again, and you get a special plastic card that allows you push in front of a queue of lavatory users should you wish too.

Chemotherapy is a very interesting experience to be honest, people think it hurts, actually in my case it never did, bits of the journey hurt but its a small price to pay given the life saving nature of the treatment. Basically it requires pumping large amounts of toxic chemicals into your body to kill off the cancer cells, Downsides include having to wear a pump for 48 hours that infuses chemicals into your body but again an inconvenience rather than a painful experience. Also in my cases chronic insomnia which is really tough was also a big problem, the chemicals stimulate the brain and in my case resulted in day after day of being awake all night. But again compared to sickness all day, a lack of energy and other nasty things again its a small price to pay. Five consecutive days of having to inject yourself in the stomach sounds pretty scary and unpleasant but actually again you get used to it and just do it.

So, after 15 treatments a CT scan revealed that the cancer does not appeared to have spread, against the odds. However, I still require regular tests to see if it has come back. In my case I am at high risk that it might come back within the next three years. My view is simple I almost died last year and could have been buried by October, so frankly any time alive is a bonus, as far as I am concerned if the cancer comes back at least this time it will be detected early and I will deal with it armed with the same attitude as I adopted this time around. The mantra Never Give Up, Never Give In, has been my mantra as taught to me by my Sensei Shihan Cyril Cummins, who sadly passed away himself aged 79 after a courageous battle with bowel cancer. I was determined then as I am now not to let this evil disease get the better of me. Too much to do and too much to live for my friends, I will let you know how the battle with entering remission continues.

Written by Austin Birks

August 26, 2019

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