Showing the guns in my celebration of hitting the halfway Mark.
Showing the guns in my celebration of hitting the halfway Mark.
I promised myself that I would do regular updates of my blog but as always being busy has got in the way. I don’t like to use it as an excuse but I’m afraid I have to. Between being busy and so shattered, it’s hard finding the time to keep the updates going. However I just had to mark this occasion as its a significant milestone in my fundraising challenge! In the past week I passed the halfway mark, that’s 5000 miles cycled in just under 6 months.
To give you a better idea of what that is the equivalent to its like travelling from the UK to the likes of the east coast of China. That sounds slightly more impressive. In that space of time I’ve been cycling for about 356 hours, or 171 days. I don’t know if that sounds impressive or just plain stupid.
To be honest, I didn’t know how hard it would be to get to this point. It’s been difficult no doubt but I’ve got fitter and more determined to succeed! In the process. I like to look at it that its all downhill from here. It isn’t quite as straightforward as that I know however I have got this far so to do it all again shouldn’t be too difficult, could it? I’m not trying to play down the task in hand but I do understand and appreciate what it takes to ride 5000 miles and I feel like I can learn from the experience and improve on it. If I put those theories in action, it should be slightly easier or at least that’s the plan! First off though is a well deserved rest. I haven’t taken more than a day off at a time since I started. I feel like I deserve a proper rest so I plan to take a weekend free of bikes and work. Hopefully that gives my body adequate time to recuperate and get back on the wagon for the second half of the challenge!
As you probably well know, the reason I’m doing all this is to raise awareness and funds for my chosen charity. If you find the time and have any spare change your willing to part with please donate. Id very much appreciate it!
Riding bikes each and everyday in the attempt to do good as well as work, live and play, can take a lot of time. Add in the charity work behind the scenes to create awareness of my challenge and the charity and I can be forgiven for having gone quiet on the updates to my fundraising!
The last number of weeks have been hectic to say the least. The Pearl Izumi challenge was going well as far as the mileage goes but the fundraising has went a bit stale so step forward the back-up plan to help raise some funds!
First up was a stationary cycle in my local shopping centre. This was months in the planning, it was always something that was planned to do during the year. My local shopping centre was the perfect place to do so. March25th was the day chosen. The Sun was out and mother’s day was the following day so this potentially could be a good haul. I didn’t want to set any targets as to be honest I didn’t know what to expect.
I started at 10.30 am. The plan was to ride an hour at a time. As I did that, Sarah the fundraising officer from ‘Friends of the cancer centre’ would chat to any interested parties wanting to know about what I was doing or what the charity did. We where there until 4pm. It was such a worthwhile effort. We got plenty of feedback and lots of interest in the charity! The exposure was better than I expected and that’s half the reason for doing it in the first place, to raise more awareness! To top it off we raised a decent total £185. Not bad I think and gets the total amount moving again.
The following weekend same idea but slightly different approach. Collecting money was the name of the game but no bikes where involved. I wasn’t too optomistic this time as it was just me, a bucket, a few volunteers and that’s it. No props, no advertising, just the basics. Much to my surprise it went better than the previous week! Thankfully it did as standing on the spot for 6 hours isn’t as easy as it sounds!
All in all though the fundraising is back on the move again. I’m glad as it makes me realise why I’m doing all this, as if I could forget! The awareness of the charity is growing too! Ive been supporting the charity for 10 years and its part of my life but to others, they are oblivious and that’s been a shock. I guess that’s slightly nieve of me but I honestly thought people knew! When there is so many charities that aren’t local but people believe they are, we can be overlooked and stereotyped but when you tell people just where we are and how we help it really opens people’s eyes! Hopefully that will lead to more support. Do me a favour and take a look at the website. I’m not asking for donations. Just take a minute and look into what I’m so passionate about
Sometimes i’ve wondered is what I have eaten caused me to get cancer? Well can you blame me! We read it, watch it and we hear all about it. Constantly over the years we are lead to believe that our diet can increase our chances of getting cancer! Considering that what we eat is hugely important to our everyday lives it is understandable that people get worried and paranoid about how we fuel our bodies! Without food we won’t survive so is there any truth behind the theory?
In a world where obesity is becoming the norm, we can’t deny it’s not due to what we eat and the quantity we eat. It is said that being overweight increases the risk of getting 13 types of cancer! That’s being overweight, not obese so what are the risks with that!!
I bet most people will look at themselves and wonder, then follow that with the question ‘how do I know?’ Well I can guarantee if you think your overweight there’s a good chance you are! And with that comes the questions. It’s not as simple as if I’m overweight I will get cancer, there are many different aspects to it but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it. Many studies conducted between the association of diet and cancer have experts agreeing the food we eat can affect the risk. You only have to do a bit of research to see the many stories similar to this. So let’s assume it’s correct. What do we do?
So before stating the obvious, check your bmi or body mass index. It is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The NHS has one on its website. Now this isn’t the be all and end all as it doesn’t take into consideration muscle which weighs more than fat. The fact of the matter is, a healthier diet could help prevent numerous cancers. First off let’s look at some of the things in our diets that are linked to increasing the risk.
•Processed + red meat
Everyone has heard about the increased health risks with these. I have to admit I am partial to a bacon sandwich and the occasional slab of beef but is that potentially going to kill me? Well processed meat has been classified as a ‘definite ’cause of cancer and red meat is ‘probable’ according to cancer research UK. It goes as far as saying processed eat is a ‘carcinogen’ something that causes cancer. The evidence has been building for years and is supported by a lot of careful research but what does it mean, how much is it sensible to eat? Let’s be clear, yes a prolonged high meat diet isn’t terribly good for you but a steak, bacon sarnie or sausage bap a couple of times a week isn’t much to worry about. And overall the risks are much lower than for or things such as smoking! It’s a good source of some nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc. It’s just about being sensible and not eating too much too often.
Who likes a bit of sugar? Don’t be fibbing now, everyone likes sugar but so do cancer cells! Sugar in our food is a major problem in today’s society. It’s not even a matter of having too many sugars in our tea, or an extra biscuit here and there. So many foods contain sugar and most of us are unaware. Don’t even get me started on fizzy drinks! I’m partial to the odd energy drink or tin of coke but I don’t rely on them like I see with others. The daily sugar intake in those is scary. So too much sugar is bad but why in terms of cancer? Well sugar essentially feeds tumours and encourages cancer growth.
I’ve found by cooking from fresh you can keep control of your sugar intake. Again, it’s keeping it at a sensible level! Although not a food, alcohol is another obvious cancer risk. I see more and more people’s reliance of alcohol. That generally leads to smoking too. I’ve witnessed the effects of having a taste for both through a lifetime with my dad and he unfortunately lost his life to cancer. He smoked and drank most of his life.
So is there anything that actually helps reduce the risk? On the reader’s digest page they suggest 30 foods to help prevent cancer http://www.rd.com/health/conditions unsurprisingly it’s full of fruit and veg. Healthier diets could prevent 1 in 10 cancers. Without named all 30 I’ve picked out a few that we probably all eat and didn’t realise they have great benefits.
▪Garlic ▪Broccoli ▪Grilled salmon ▪Ginger ▪Mediterranean diet
▪Apples ▪Coffee ▪Antioxidants
The governments eat well guide is a good indicator to a healthy diet. That’s if you want to of course. No harm in looking eh? No matter how much we try and help ourselves to lead a healthier lifestyle, that doesn’t mean we are immune to cancer or any other health issue. No one is immune, I guess the moral of the story is to lead it in a way which makes us happy. As the old cliche goes, live each day like its your last. This post is only a guide, a point of reference if you so wish to follow it. Just try and live without regrets. Don’t deny yourself that bacon sarnie either 😉 just don’t live on them!
We ride for fun, perhaps we race or we are involved in the sport in no shortage of ways but when we are acknowledged for what we do it’s always a great feeling! I’ve been riding, racing and fundraising with bikes for many years. I’ve never asked for thanks, or be showered with gratitude but the past weekend I got just that and it felt so great. On Friday I flew to England to go to Pearl Izumi HQ to meet the team and learn about the brand I was to represent for this coming year.
I had been one of 50 people around the UK to be chosen to be an ambassador. We are guinea pigs essentially as PI have never done a programme like this in the UK, only the U.S. Pearl Izumi, the biggest cycling clothing brand in the world were restructuring their advertising and marketing in a sense and were trying to get passionate, everyday cyclists to show off the range. As we went through some presentations we learned what was expected of us and how the brand wanted to be portrayed to the cycling community. With so much competition in the market this could be a new fresh way of getting the name out there.
After our induction, ride after lunch and collection of our team gear, we all had time to reflect on the experience. Speaking with some of the brand team, they were so thankful for us all coming. They wanted people like me who dedicate their lives to their sport to showcase them. They believed in my ambitions and plans and charity work and in turn I believe in them. I felt like a pro for the first time and only time. With my current challenge I have referred to the lack of motivation sometimes with the sheer size of the distance I need to cover. This is just another little boost to the ego and mindset to get me through those hard times. Sometimes I feel like my riding 10000 miles is underestimated but I no longer do
The Pearl Izumi team and my fellow teammates gave me such great words of encouragement and respect to what I’m doing and for it to come from such amazing individuals themselves, all doing amazing things for their sport, charities, organizations and personal goals, it is a proud moment for me to associated with this. So the rest of my challenge and the rest of the year, I hope to do everyone proud. Thankyou my fellow Pi teammates, thankyou James Hards and the Pi team for your belief in me and the support you’ve passed on. I’m ready to go out on the bike once again tomorrow with a big smile on my face and continue to show the world just what’s possible after beating cancer!
The ‘Cancer family’ is something I’ve referred to a few times in my blogs. It’s one of the most important aspects to my recovery from cancer, I can’t stress that enough!
Now I’m not necessarily referring to my actual family, of course they where there for me. My cancer family where those fellow survivors, fighters, amazing people in which cancer had affected in one way or another. They were my support network who knew how I was feeling and made me feel ‘normal’. Because of their importance to me I feel like I should at least dedicate this to them. Some of them unfortunately are no longer with us so this is especially for them!
The ‘Hope’ cancer support group where a lifeline for me when I needed them most. I had recently finished treatment and I was at a loss as to what to do, where to go, how to cope with everything I was dealing with mentally.I referred to the mental affects in my last blog, it’s something that could destroy you if you let it and it was at that point. The ‘Hope’ group where there for me. I thought at the time when I couldn’t find a specific testicular cancer support group to go to that I was going to have to deal with this on my own when I was then pointed in the direction of hope. They where local to me, they sounded like it was worth a go. What did I have to loose? In today’s times, cancer support groups are everywhere. Charities etc realised the importance of them and with the numbers on the rise, the group’s became more popular. The need for that help was never more in need.
This wasn’t necessarily the case when I had cancer. Although when I look back on it I know I had no shortage of support, that support is now better than ever and easier to get hold of!
With what I felt was a lack of options for me at the time, I decided I had to give the group a go. I was nervous, nearly to the point where I didn’t go. All the usual emotions were there, will they really understand?? Will they accept me?? Will I be able to deal with my problems through this group??
Well what can I say! Going to the group and walking through that door for the first time was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When I got home that first night I just knew I was going to beat this once and for all. A huge weight was lifted. I still had a long way to go but those people I met that night where exactly what I needed. That was nearly ten years ago, I went religiously every month and it took years for me to finally get to a point where I accepted it all. Even with that I still continued to go to the group. They where an important part of my life and always will be and up until last year when the group was put on hold, I attended. I still to this day keep in touch. Words will never be able to properly describe the positive affect the group had on me. I have so much to be thankful for and I can’t stress enough how much of a benefit it can be for you if you need the help. I found this more than anything to be the best in helping me deal with my demons. There is no harm in trying, it could be the best decision you make also!
The support groups extend further than that for me though. ‘Friends of the cancer centre’ where my first port of call. The charity has been close to my heart ever since and they’re one of the main reasons I do the fundraisers I do! The charity is only small in the big scheme of things but they have a massive impact on the local cancer scene in Northern Ireland. As far as I’m concerned, they couldn’t have done more for me. From the moment I walked in, feeling confused and unsure how to deal with everything, their professionalism and just caring attitude made me realise everything was going to be ok. Even to this day they welcome me with open arms and appreciate everything I do for the charity. That’s all because of the appreciation for them though. Sometimes charities get a lot of stick for various reasons but I can say ‘ fotcc’ is one of the good ones. They go the extra mile to help the ‘cancer family’ they care so much about. Anybody looking the support but maybe find going to a group intimidating, try your local charity. They can help in various ways, even supplying a social worker to talk one to one with can be enough. Never be afraid to ask. They will all be willing to support as their main concern is you! Never forget that!
Let’s face facts, we all at some point in our lives go through troubled times, not necessarily health related, it could be anything but something that really hits home and affects us mentally. We’d be very lucky in life if we didn’t but then that’s all part of life?
Cancer could be one of those ‘troubled times’ . Being given that diagnosis can affect us in many ways, before,during and after the ordeal. Let me stress that this is entirely normal! Sometimes we can feel embarrassed etc for struggling with all this turmoil mentally. I felt like that and tried to bottle my emotions from everyone. This didn’t help me at all. As embarrassed as I was I knew I couldn’t continue on the destructive path I was on! Me being a typical man, I was trying to be macho, trying to ignore that I couldn’t cope. Trying to pretend that my thoughts and feelings would pass. I just couldn’t understand what was happening to me. When I got my diagnosis I kind of imagined the hardest bit would be the surgery and chemotherapy. It was physically bloody hard but never did I imagine how hard it would be in a mental capacity!
The cancer tortured me, I even tortured myself at times and half the time I didn’t know why. Not being able to control what I was thinking was scary for me. I like control, I like being able to have things in order, be organised but the mental pressures of having had cancer was stopping all that and was turning me into someone I didn’t like! When things got so bad I knew I had to get help. At the time I wasn’t sure how but at least I was able to admit that I needed help. It’s being able to recognise that, it’s not always easy but it’s important you do for your future.
Some people I’ve talked to have described the cancer process similar to grieving. I think in some ways it is. Grieving usually consists of a number of stages all of which relate to cancer.
Denial and isolation
Personally the first point doesn’t apply to me. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t try and deny the facts, it was happening to me! For many though they don’t want to believe it. The isolation I think happens a lot though during the whole process. You can feel alone, feel like no-one understands and your just drifting away and in turn you push those closest away! At this point was when I really needed to get help. Not necessarily the first, second or even the third time I felt this, it was the turning point though. However I needed to be able to have people around me that knew how I felt, made me feel like I wasn’t some sort of diseased rat.
Anger can crop up in various forms. Sometimes the drugs we’re on can cause us to lash out but the one way I found the most destructive was that anger that built up deep inside us. The anger that bubbles like a cauldron. All those thoughts that annoy us, upset us, they all get added to the pot and it gets to the point whereby we believe there is no hope anymore. We become negative, we dismiss anything positive. It no longer becomes possible for anyone to simply encourage a positive attitude towards you and remind you everything will be ok because your so angered and bitter about it that you don’t care and you take it out on those around you. It’s not their fault but it’s not yours either. Falling into that anger trap is easy but getting out of the rut isn’t! There is only so many angry outbursts those closest to you will take and if they give up on you because of no longer being able to talk to you then either you recognise this quickly or hope someone just takes you to the side and tells you how it is. May sound harsh but it may be the only way to bring you to your senses! I got so angry for years after. I hated the word cancer, hated everything about it. I guess parts of that have never left me. Although I accept what happened, with looking at life differently I get angered by those that take life for granted! I shouldn’t but I do and I guess I’ll always have that in me. It’s a very small part of my personality but I can control it. It probably always goes back to the’why me?’ ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ Attitude and then getting annoyed by those that don’t embrace what they have instead of thinking the world owes them! Getting help got me through it though.
Depression is a word I detest! Those that know me well will know my thoughts and feelings on this. I believed that the word depression is so over used. People on a daily basis say ‘oh I’m depressed’ etc. Are they really? I heard it so often and seen so many people self diagnosing themselves that I got to the point I didn’t believe it was actually a condition. With having cancer and being involved with others with cancer over the years I began to see it was indeed a condition! When someone is clinically diagnosed with it, for that person they must be going through hell! I was never diagnosed with depression that’s why I don’t say I was however if the way I felt after cancer was even close, it isn’t pleasant! I mentally really struggled for a very long time. I’m lucky I’m pretty strong and over time I spent many an hour thinking my thoughts over. With help also I eventually managed to overcome my struggles. Those dark days I really didn’t know what to do. I blamed myself for getting cancer, I was nearly starting to believe the voices in my head. Some people when at this point will just not be able to cope, others will but they’ll go through many a dark day. Depression isn’t a sign of personal failure or an inability to cope. Try not to blame yourself or feel guilty.
Acceptance is the last step. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never get to that point but have faith as I know you will! Your well on your way to finally beating cancer once and for all! Acceptance can’t happen by doing it on your own. At least I don’t think so. There is no shame in getting help or even asking for it. Look at it as the doctor giving you a prescription. You need it and in using it, it will mark you better. Hopefully if you can accept having cancer you can move on with your life and live again! You can’t change the past but you can make sure it doesn’t affect the future no more.
A quick point I want to cover is the mental affects of cancer on relationships. Sometimes it doesn’t just affect the patient but the partners and loved ones also. It can be a great strain for both and can change the way the relationship works. There can be changes in roles, responsibilities. That can sometimes make you feel anxious, awkward and even judged. The moral of the story is though that both sides are probably struggling but don’t give up on each other. You don’t need to always talk about it, just stick by each other no matter what.
Don’t let cancer win and not only destroy you but those around you too! It might feel like that’s the easiest way to get it over with but believe me when I say there are amazing people out there within the ‘cancer family’ who want to help. They aren’t hard to find but when you do you won’t be sorry. They will lift you up when your down and show you there is life after cancer. The cancer family I will talk about more in future blogs.
This topic is so diverse, I’m probably only touching the surface but hopefully what I’ve written is some sort of help and kind of makes it a bit clearer. If your currently going through the stages, all I can say is your doing brilliant. Keep your head held high and in no time you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been!
Its been what feels like a lifetime since I last updated how the fundraiser is going! Well I’ve now broke the 2000 mile mark! The equivalent of cycling to Turkey. So I would nearly have left Europe and heading towards the middle east. I wish that was the case because the wet,cold,dark days have been tough. Body soul and bike have had some issues the past month but hopefully I’m past that. I’ve always said I’m in somewhat foreign territory when it comes to how everything would hold up. The bike has defiently proved that. I’ve been somewhat unlucky with mechanicals, they’ve hit me all at once but I should be sorted now. I just have to get myself into a regular regime of looking after it! The body has held up well. Regular ice baths and the odd rest day have done the job. Ice baths are brutal may I add but seem to be doing the trick at least! No pain no gain as they say. Once you go numb it’s grand. The things we do for helping others eh!
It’s defiently not easy. You get your good days and bad but luckily more good. I think doing what I am, things could get very repetitive, very draining and that could potentially make it difficult to drag yourself out to put the miles in on those bad days. To try and mix things up I had planned on getting out on the mtb for the first time in months. I was excited, the mtb is my bread and butter and I’ve neglected it for too long. It’s so uplifting being able to set off into the forests, mountains, the wilderness. Skipping over rocks, roots, jumps.
The Wicklow mountains were the destination and it was to be for a cancer fundraiser held every year. I’ve never been due to other commitments but with my plans for this year I wanted to make it part of the schedule. It was a group of like minded people doing what they love and combining that with raising money to help fight cancer.
To hear a few of the words spoken before the ride, it was a reminder of the pain cancer causes and why people like myself do the challenges and events to raise money! A big part of what I do is to help others and inspire more and that I think is part of the reason I do stuff like this and get noticed by the likes of PearlIzumi to be an ambassador. I do things to inspire others but from what I’ve learnt about my new pearlizumi teammates so far, they inspire me and I look forward to meeting them. This pushes me on and gives me the determination to succeed. This charity fundraiser may only be a small part of what I’m aiming to achieve but it reinvigorates the soul to keep carrying on. It makes you forget all those silly things that make us think we have it hard and remember there are many others out there who are really in need. I realise in moments like this that I’m lucky to be healthy again and can ride my bike, so because of that I was determined to enjoy the moment!
The weather wasn’t exactly ideal, that wasn’t going to stop me going out and enjoying the day. It took a while to get comfortable on such a different bike to what ive been riding of late but before long I got the hang of it all again and had a huge grin on my face! I definitely missed that adrenaline rush, no Matter how much I ride the roadbike it doesn’t give you the same feeling as dodging through trails, muck getting splattered everywhere and that sense of satisfaction at the end. Mountain bikes rule, I will absolutely be getting out on it more. I’m looking forward to the next number of weeks again because if im being honest, the bike was wearing thin on me at times but I’ve really reevaluated and I’m back on track! Onwards for the next month of cycling, no 1000 mile months this time round however it’ll be substantial no doubt and it’ll be all worth it!
Cancer is a dirty word. Unless we have to tackle it we tend to push it to the side and pretend it’s not there, ignore the many aspects to it. It’s only when we are forced to take notice that the true extent of what it involves becomes clear
If it was as simple as being given the diagnosis, be given a ‘MAGIC’ pill and boom, it’s gone them that would be amazing. Unfortunately that’s not the case and depending on your type of cancer, and at what stage your at greatly depends on how the cancer can be treated.
Treatment can consist of any of the following:
Surgery radiotherapy chemotherapy hormone therapy
Biological therapies bone marrow stem cell
I’m sure there are others, that’s the most common. Now I can’t comment on them all as I haven’t had all of them so I’m no use on every treatment, I’m sorry about that!
Now to start, if you are diagnosed with cancer, you could be lucky in the sense that its caught early and only surgery is needed. Depending on the type, that could mean fairly straight forward surgery without any real affect on your body. Happy days if that’s the case! Thats brilliant news. I had testicular cancer so without going into too much detail, you can guess what had to be done! That has its obvious downsides, as do other cancers. These downsides can affect you afterwards and can include anything from reduced chances of conceiving to digestive problems etc. Although simple and straight forward in thought, it can still be seen as the lesser of two evils. I’d have to agree. Be cancer free and live a fairly unaffected life but have the odd downside? Yes please.
I’m aware I’m probably downplaying all this. Believe me when I say I had my issues! In fact it took me many years to make peace with it but the important thing is I did! I couldn’t let the scars, the mental torture of the consequences affect me anymore. I urge anyone reading this to do the same. Whether its cancer related or not, If something is tearing you apart from the inside out, do something about it, get help. You’ll be so glad you did whenever your life is on the up again!
As bad as surgery can be its nothing compared to the likes of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Now I’ll talk about chemo related issues at the end but I want to start with ‘radio’. Now I never had to get it but I witnessed my dad go through it and others. My opinions on the treatment are my opinions! It’s my view on it. Those that read this may disagree with what it’s like, all I know I it’s tough which im sure all can agree!
My first opinion was that it didn’t look so bad, it was quick, or so it seemed. The people getting it all seemed ok considering. I was like, why can’t I get this instead? That was very ignorant of me though. In my dad’s case, as the days wore on, he slowly had the life drain out of him. It got to the point where it seemed like torture for him. He would go everyday, get radio for like 10 mins or so and that was it. But only he knew how it would make him feel after a few hours! The pain, the inability to do the simplest things. The radiotherapy just sucked what energy he had and even when he maybe started to feel half normal, the mental torture of knowing you had to summon the will to do it again the following day!
Yes I was wrong! But then we all have to learn. Radiotherapy is very different to chemotherapy however that doesn’t mean it’s not as destructive. Of course its tough but if it’s going to help your recovery then it’s a thumbs up surely! My nievity taught me not to judge a book by its cover. It’s the mental torture that got me with it though. The relentlessness of the treatment, how it never seems to end! With preparation though I think you could cope ok. The not knowing what your getting into can sometimes be the hardest part. Before I move onto ‘chemo’ I just need to clear up a myth with radiotherapy. People always think If your to get it your going to be radioactive! Is This true? Well in most cases no. If your treatment is external then your not radioactive and are not a danger to others. If you get what they call Brachytherapy then technically you are. So in most cases you can get on with normal life without the worry! Just thought that was something to clear up.
Right onto the big one, chemotherapy. It’s a word to me that has always filled me with fear, even before getting cancer. It’s basically a toxic poison, made up from various plants, natural organic ingredients that produce a deadly concoction to kill cancer and sometimes healthy cells too! Now there is too many types to go into but I will tell you a bit about the type that I recieved to give you an idea of what it does and what is used to make it. Chemo works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells. My chemo was a treatment called BEP. BEP was made up of three separate drugs. First up was Bleomycin. It is a type of antibiotic that is poisonous to cells. It binds to the cancer cells ‘dna’ so that they can’t divide or grow. Now this particular drug wasn’t overly bad. Silly to say but compared to the other two it was small fry.
Etoposide is the second. It is made from the Mandrake plant. What is that I hear you say? Well this plant is very well known in medicine and has quite the history. Folklore would suggest that there is a superstition that people who pulled up the root would be condemned to hell and the Mandrake plant would scream as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. Therefore in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the plant from the soil. Believe that if you will but on a serious note this plant is highly toxic! To look at it you wouldn’t know but believe me it is. The tiredness, vomiting, rapid heart rate,dizziness etc etc all common with chemo are all brought on with the help of Etoposide in this treatment. When you read up on it, modern medicine is fascinating. It amazes me how they know this helps destroying cancer but then it proves how important research is!
Lastly is the P, Cisplatin. Yes I know it doesn’t begin with a P but the name it’s otherwise known as does. Otherwise known as Platinum. Yes that’s right, that very well known metal that everyone knows is highly toxic. This blew my mind when I was told I was getting this. I began to question did they realise but I knew I had to trust the specialists in what they were doing!
As dangerous as it is, its a very important part of medicine. The world health organisation have it on their list of essential medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system. Cisplatin is called the ‘penicillin of cancer’ because it is so widely used and it was the first big chemotherapy drug. It’s poisonous of course but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful in treatment. The side effects can be serious but hundreds of thousands of people have been given Cisplatin and the medical establishment has learned how to deal with it.
I’m living proof, nearly 10 years after and I’m fighting fit! Yes I still have slight issues after having chemo but I can safely say I’m pretty much 100% and feel great. All that pain and suffering seemed horrible at the time but without it I might not be here to tell the tale. Yes it’s controversial, some people think there are alternative ways of doing things but I know it works and I’m glad I did it. Sometimes we face tough decisions but if you can battle on then usually you win! Any sort of cancer treatment can be daunting. It won’t be easy but those In the medical profession know what they’re doing. Trust them! You can have your doubts by all means but unless your a professional in the field too,don’t assume there is other ways of defeating it. Ask for a second opinion, do a bit of research, speak to cancer survivors on their opinions. Sometimes the saying ‘no pain no gain’ is the only way of going about it. Take each day as it comes and don’t focus too far ahead, that’s the key to getting through it.
Thats where this post was going to finish but I recently was talking to someone about treatment while writing this and I thought I’d just add it in seeing as its appropriate to the topic. The person in question said they knew someone who apparently died because they were given chemo! This got me thinking, can chemo kill you? And also can it give you cancer? After a bit of digging its safe to say you could easily be drawn into websites which are very much ‘anti-chemo’ and totally against it. The problem with that is its one sided. I managed to find a couple of articles which tried to give a balanced opinion. The one that I thought was best went on to explain that through research, in some cases treatment was likely to have caused death however without treatment the patients would have died from the cancer anyway. Many factors come into play like age, other medical complaints etc as to how chemo will react. What they did stress though was there is a fine balance between giving it and not and much consideration goes into those decisions. Doctors don’t just hand it out every time. At the end of the day there are dangers with it but cancer won’t disappear on its own. They’re trying their best to prolong your life. You always make the final decision though.