If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here


Let me tell you something that I hope you never find out for yourself. When you get cancer it does all sorts of things to you; but one particularly horrible thing it does, for months or years afterwards, is it knocks your confidence. You used to be able to do things that required physical or mental effort, but now you are never sure if your body can do the things it used to do. In the last eight or nine years I have been confronted by challenges that I wasn’t sure I could rise to. What’s worse is that, even when you overcome your fear of failure, you are never sure you can replicate your success on subsequent occasions.

You climb a hill and feel very proud of yourself, but next time you are offered the opportunity to climb another hill you hesitate because you might not be able to do it this time. It never gets easier. Each time you have to overcome demons that are really just hoping you will give in. That’s how cancer will eventually beat you. It saps your spirit and your life becomes a downward spiral, slow at first but then increasingly and depressingly more rapid. So my friends, if I were you I wouldn’t start from here! It isn’t just Cancer that will try to drag you down. It can be any other form of debilitating illness, it can be  loneliness or sadness, it can be many things.

Let me tell you about my eight years of living with cancer. When I die, whenever that might be, I’m pretty certain that my death certificate will contain some reference to cancer. it may be inevitable that I will eventually lose the battle but it doesn’t follow that I have to live out my days waiting for death. Since the day in November 2007 when my first cancers were cut away I have travelled the world. I’ve trekked into the base camp of Mount Everest, watched the sun rise in the Annapurna Sanctuary and driven through the desolation that is the Tibetan Plateau. I’ve ridden camels in the Sahara Desert and climbed in the Atlas Mountains. I’ve crossed the still smoking lava fields of Iceland’s interior and peered into steaming holes of bubbling magma. I’ve eaten indescribable things in China, Nepal, Tibet and Vietnam and canoed amongst the mangrove swamps of Vietnam’s mighty Mekong Delta.

So believe me. Giving in to illness shouldn’t be an option. Set goals that are just beyond manageable and live your life in the knowledge that a life lived in the fear of losing it is no life at all.


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