I was 54 years and 9 months old at diagnosis. For the first few months, I had no idea what the outcome would be. What I did know at the time, given the final staging, grading and other damage that was accumulated via various tests, checks and scans; is that my body had been slowly dying. Without intervention I may not be here now to tell you this tale and who knows what would be listed on my death certificate. It’s amazing to think something that would eventually kill me without intervention, didn’t have a much grander announcement than the one presented to me in 2010 (or had I been paying more attention, in 2008 or 2009). I will never know if a much grander announcement would have happened because following my chance diagnosis, I was ‘patched up’ and thankful to be still be here 10 years later.
The intervention was really in two stages:
1. A nurse who I saw at my local GP thought outside the box when I said I had lost a “wee bit of weight” and a blood test she ordered set off a sequence of events leading to a diagnosis of Stage 4 Grade 2 Neuroendocrine Cancer.
2. I was lucky to live smack bang in the middle of an area covered by an emerging NET centre of excellence led by one of the biggest NET experts in UK who also happened to be a brilliant surgeon. Some people struggle to find and get this diagnostic and therapeutic luxury.
Despite my good fortune (and it’s very strange a person thinks a stage 4 cancer diagnosis is good fortune), back in 2010 I had no idea if this unexpected event meant I would “shuffle off this mortal coil” earlier than planned. And I still don’t know today – prognostic crystal balls are not an exact science. I’m no longer seeking an answer to that question because I want to plod on living my life, I have no wish to know precisely how and when. I guess when the time comes, I might get some form of announcement, perhaps grander than my reticent cancer diagnostic signals. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it and in the meantime enjoy the journey leading to it. I remember my surgeon telling me I had a decade which is about now. I just felt my pulse, it’s fine! I always try to be an overachiever.
At the time of diagnosis, my official retirement date was 30th October 2020 at age 65. However, the government moved the goalposts and it’s now 30th October 2021 (I missed out by 55 weeks). My Scottish traits are quite annoyed by that (£££££). Consequently, I’m now focused on my 66th birthday, when I can start to recoup some of the 50-year investment into my state pension.
The pension thing above is slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ because every birthday is worth celebrating, every ‘cancerversary’ of diagnosis, surgery and anything which helped to keep me alive, will be celebrated.
So as I now march onto 66, piss off cancer, I’m 65 and I’m still here!
The pictures were taken today, 30th October 2020, at Avon Beach Mudeford, on the south coast of England, not too far from my home. Chris and I had ‘brunch’ on the beach at the ‘Noisy Lobster’ followed by these beach antics. Enjoy. The video below is the making of my ‘jump in the air on a beach’ pose. Despite asking the photographer to look out for the tide coming in, I did manage to get soaked but it added to the effect and Chris (the photographer) was laughing more than me!
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Paul Hunter, three-time Masters snooker champion was just 27 when he fell victim to Neuroendocrine Cancer at the peak of his powers and popularity. At