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 still be here today.
I came out earlier this year about some thoughts I had been having in the first few years after diagnosis. I honestly didn’t think I would be alive today to celebrate this birthday. I had no idea what to expect. I thought I was going to die but I didn’t!
The initial 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 and I consider myself fortunate (and I now push for more access for all).
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.
I’ve always been focused on my 66th birthday as it’s my state pension start day and I’m now officially retired!
So, as I now march forward to 2022, piss off cancer, I’m 66 and I’m still here!
I started doing the “Piss off cancer” series when I got to 65, mainly because I initially thought I wouldn’t make that age. These pictures were taken on 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 (it soon became clear that my jumping skills have declined!). Despite asking the photographer to look out for the tide coming in, I did manage to get my feet soaked but it added to the effect. Chris (the photographer) was laughing more than me!
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