Somewhere from deep within I found a positive spirit. If it’s always been there it’s been a little timid. Dark moments of depression and anxiety have clouded my life at times. You’d expect a death sentence to bring out the deepest sadness, not the pragmatic lets get on and enjoy life approach that I’ve somehow found.
I’m not really sure where it came from. I think it materialised in the period where I discovered that my treatment was going to extend my average life expectancy from six months to thirty two months. Seven months on I’m rather grateful for that. Had the prognosis remained so short I think I’d have crawled away into a corner and disappeared quietly. Death in service benefits from work actually incentivised me to die before redundancy on 31st May. Without the afatinib drug I’d be feeling a little miffed to still be alive today!
Amidst the positive approach I do get the occasional morbid thought. I’m not looking forward to the painful bits to come and final decline. Equally I still hope for a cure or at least a better treatment. It’s so close, but in a week that the boxer Errol Christie slipped away a couple of years after revealing his non smoker lung cancer I realise that the odds remain stacked against me benefiting from the next big thing.
I remember Errol Christie well and read a few parts of his cancer story yesterday. He vowed to “fight” the disease in March 2015. It’s a phrase I find difficult to comprehend. I’m not sure how you fight it. You take your treatment and your body then decides how successful that treatment is. How long it lasts for. How well you respond.
My understanding is that positive thinking won’t increase my life expectancy. There’s precious little evidence to suggest it will. What will be will be. I accept that. But what positivity will bring me – has brought me – is an enhanced quality of life. Despite the disease reducing my mobility. Despite hurting my back.
I can’t fight what I can’t physically stop. I can’t out-think the disease in my head. I like the image of my drugs zapping my tumours. But that’s medical magic working within me. Not my mind over matter.
I’m convinced a positive mindset has significantly improved my life. We can all learn from that. Long may it continue. Alas, I am very much accepting of the reality that it can’t extend my time.