Living Life in Limbo
When I was diagnosed with incurable advanced stage prostate cancer in May 2017 and given a worst-case prognosis of two years, life went on hold. Our families’ senses and emotions were subject to a huge roller coaster of tests, outcomes, commencement of treatment, and worries/concerns about the future.
Constantly thinking about cancer
Initially it was simply horrendous. There was barely a moment when you didn’t think about cancer. Every niggle, pimple, pain was obviously another tumor that had developed and was going to kill you early. You knew the answer to 2 + 2 was 4, but the brain kept coming up with 5, aka cancer.
Eventually, though, things settle down, a degree of stability takes over, and it’s at that point where you take stock of life and consider what’s important.
I ran a relatively successful accountancy practice, but working 50+ hours per week definitely wasn’t a priority!
I had a grandson who was starting school in September 2017 and who is the apple of my eye, so I took the bold decision to reduce my hours so that I could pick him up from school three days per week and build memories for him for when I’m not around.
Ultimately I took the decision to exit from the practice, which wasn’t great financially, but it removed stress from my life, and you don’t need that as well as cancer.
The best of both worlds
Now I work a small number of hours each week, so I have the best of both worlds. A little bit of work to keep my mind occupied and to look after clients that I’ve had a long relationship with, as well as extra family time to spend with my grandson and the then his brother when he arrived on the scene.
My wife and I also re-appraised our family finances and put plans in place for the worst outcome, while hoping that it would be a long time away. I’d urge everyone to do this irrespective of their state of health.
Getting a dog
We’ve had a dog in the family home ever since I married my wife, Tracey, in 1980. In fact, when we married it was “love me, love my dog,” because the dog came with her. Sadly we’d lost our last dog in late 2016, unfortunately due to cancer, and we’d been looking around for another when I was diagnosed.
My wife said she couldn’t cope with my illness and a puppy, but I persuaded her otherwise and thus, Radler became part of our lives in August 2017. He was a very welcome distraction for both of us.
A state of limbo
However, it’s very hard to form a different view than that life living with stage 4 cancer feels like living in a state of limbo with a zombie apocalypse headed straight for you. It's in the form of what I have called “squeaky bum time” in a previous article, 3 monthly PSA blood tests, the next one of which may be the one that tells you that your current treatment has stopped working, as it inevitably will, and start to signal the beginning of the end.
Facing that horror every 3 months makes you realize that time is precious and to value it even more.
Living in the moment
I now constantly tell people that they need to live for the now, live in the moment, and live life to the fullest. Please don’t wait for a life-changing illness to force you to do that. It may be too late.
As I see that zombie apocalypse headed my way I don’t turn and run, I face it head-on. I’m not scared, and I’m absolutely determined to live a full and meaningful life despite what I’m living through, and irrespective of how long that ends up being. If by writing articles like this I can help people to think long and hard about life values and to focus on living, then that would be a wonderful epitaph!
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?