Dark Days and Relentlessness

Last updated: February 2022

The impact of lockdown here in the UK has felt utterly relentless. As of this writing, the area I live in, Greater Manchester, will have lived with some form of restriction on our day-to-day life for all but 25 days out of the previous 15 months!

An emotional toll

This has had a devastating affect for people like me living with stage 4 prostate cancer. I know that my life expectancy has been significantly shortened by my diagnosis, but I am determined to live whatever number of years I have left to the very best of my ability and enjoy each day to the full. However, this relentless lockdown has stopped me from being able to do that, and it has left an emotional toll.

I’ve traveled extensively throughout my life, and it has been one of my great passions. Witnessing the great migration in the Maasai Mara is a particular highlight.

Wanting to make the most of life

But of course travel has been severely restricted, and holidays planned for 2020 postponed. It may not seem significant or even important to some people, but when you’re living with stage 4, it’s vital to take advantage of the period when you feel fit and well to cram in as much as possible.

There will come a point where I’ll be unable to secure travel insurance. It’s already ridiculously expensive, and that will limit me in the future. So now really is the time to make the most of life and fit in everything I can.

Feeling low

There were times when I felt so low emotionally because I was unable to see my family – and, in particular, my grandchildren – that I questioned how much more I can cope with the situation.

My wife and I are blessed with wonderful friends. As of this writing, we haven’t seen them more than once or twice socially in 15 months, and even then limited to sitting in the garden.

Routine cancer treatments every 3 months have assumed a greater level of risk, given that a potential area of exposure to covid has been nosocomial. Thankfully our cancer hospital has worked wonders to keep us all safe.

Cuts to cancer research funding

The longterm impacts of the last 15 months can be seriously scary for cancer patients. I’m being kept stable thanks to Abiraterone, a drug developed here in the UK by research funding from Cancer Research UK before being licensed to Janssen.

CRUK has noted significant cuts in cancer research funding since the pandemic started. This is hugely worrying for me in that I know that, at some point, my treatment will fail, and I’m desperate for new treatments coming on stream to prolong my life. Cuts in research funding could seriously restrict that.

Not all doom and gloom

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I think the UK has led the way as far as the vaccination program is concerned, and I’m now fully vaccinated, which feels like the start of a brighter future.

Some thoughts spring to mind to close this article:

  • It’s been a hugely challenging time, but we seem to be emerging from it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
  • When we think about dark days in our lives, it reminds me that it’s so important to live life to the fullest. We shouldn’t wait for a life-changing diagnosis to do that. Everyone should strive for a much better work/life balance before it’s too late.
  • The development of covid vaccines has been amazing to me, and it makes you wonder how much more could be done to develop cancer drugs, or even a cure, with the same will to succeed.

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