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    I hadn’t been feeling great for a few weeks, but had shrugged it of as being very tired and being run down, when I didn’t begin to feel any better I decided to go to the doctors, I went there and was sent to raigmore hospital in Inverness that same day. At that point I was slightly concerned I must admit, but remember thinking to myself that at least I was in the best place and they would get to the bottom of my problem and just give me some tablets and that would be it. I realised there were something more sinister when I had to go for an ultrasound on my testicle and abdomen, I remember feeling very embarrassed at having to undress in front of strangers, but at the same time thinking it was 100 times easier than doing it in front of people I knew!! I had to wait a few hours for the results, that was probably the longest few hours of my life, but at the same time I wanted to know what I was up against, (realising in my own mind that it wasn’t going to be something simple) I got called into my doctors room and he broke the news that I had feared more than anything else, I had cancer. I had testicular and abdominal cancer. Some people say that when bad news hits you it is like a punch in the stomach, not for me I just went numb, my doctor spent about the next ten minutes giving me information and nothing went in, the only thing that went in was I had a chance of survival. I just went back to my bed and howled in tears, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide, not see anyone or anything, but I couldn’t do that. The nurse that had been in the room with my doctor and me came and explained things to me, I was able to focus my mind and take in what was being said to me, I had the most curable form of the disease, but my cancer was very advanced. The fact I had a chance of being cured was a thought I had to cling onto, another one was Lance Armstrong, (who is a multi time winner of the tour de France), who had the same cancer as me, but his had spread to his brain, my thinking was if he could beat it and do all the amazing things he has done, then there has to be hope. Something that I hadn’t even thought about was how to tell my family. I spent around two hours just trying to find a way to break it to them, but the reality is you cannot break something like that to them in a nice way; there is no easy way to say, “I have cancer”. That night I couldn’t sleep at all, was given sleeping tablets but they didn’t work, (something that would become a common theme in the months to come). I told my family by phone, well I told them I had cancer, but I left it to my doctor to go into all the details on my illness, treatment ect. I felt emotionally exhausted at that point and drained, and the idea of telling anyone else was something I just could not do, so I got my family and friends who did know to tell others. A memory that I will always remember was my friend Jamie coming in to see me in raigmore, I was about to have my dinner and I really didn’t want to eat, but he was urging me to eat my food, but I just couldn’t, of course what he and I did not know at that point was that I had a 20 cm tumour in my abdomen and that was the reason I was eating very little. It was when he was up that we decided to go on a holiday when I got better, in my opinion it is very important to have things to work for, as you will see as I continue this that I set myself numerous goals, some I achieved others I did not, my advice here is to be realistic, do goals that are achievable, but at the same time do not be down heartened if you do not make it, focus on what you have achieved rather than what you have not, ALWAYS look on the positives, never waste energy on the negatives, and gain energy from the positive things you have done. It really does help you and your mind-set.

    The first time I really felt scared and properly showed it was when I went for a scan on the brain, to see if the cancer had spread there, I think it was just the idea in my head that if it had gotten that far, then there would be no way of stopping it. Which I know now was a bad idea as all cancers are different and different treatments have different effects. Time can be a funny thing, at times it can go far too fast or it can seem like an eternity to move a minute. It was at this point I had decided to myself to stop looking to the past, I could not change what had happened, all I could do now was try and prepare myself for the fight that was in front of me. Fortunately the brain scan came back negative, and now we were able to focus on how to beat the cancer that was inside me. My doctor said that chemotherapy would be my best course of treatment and I would defiantly need one operation, but most probably would need another after my chemo. I was fine with all this, the next suggestion was that I would either be at Glasgow or Edinburgh for my treatment, I said yes to that as well, anything that would give me the best chance of survival, I was going to go for. I ended up being placed at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, I was told that it was one of the best hospitals in Britain for dealing with cancer, this gave me a lot of optimism, knowing that I had one of the best teams looking after me was a huge comfort. I went to Glasgow by ambulance and it took us around 4 hrs to get there, since the ambulance driver lost his way!! Anyone who knows me knows I am very competitive, I hate losing a computer game, so at this point, my mind-set was that this was the most important game of my life, this was a game for my life! I was not going to lay down and let the cancer win, I couldn’t do that and I wasn’t going to do that.

    At the Beatson, I,was given two choices for how my chemo cycle would work. One, have the normal 4 cycles of chemo over the normal time frame, or have the same 4 cycles of treatment in a shorter time, hence hitting the cancer harder and faster. I went for the quick option as my doctor agreed that it was the better option for me.

    However, before I started my chemo, there was the small matter of having a testicle removed, the operation itself worried me, but more so since it was my first ever operation, fortunately I had a great surgeon, who talked everything through with me, and that made me feel more at ease, but I still felt very apprehensive about the operation, the fear only really kicked in though as I was going to the theatre to have the op done, before that I can remember feeling strangely calm, (calm for the fact I was about to have an operation.) Thankfully the op went fine and although I needed help doing certain things for a few days after, the op was not as debilitating as I had expected and the recovery period was shorter than I had thought as well. Within a matter of days, my chemo was to begin. Before my chemo began, I was so anxious for it to start, I was constantly asking my doctors for it to begin, even though there were other things that had to be done first: Operation, kidney tests – to see if my kidneys were up to the task of flushing out the cancerous cells and the chemo, Also had lung tests to see what kind of shape they were in now, and also to assess after the chemo had finished if the chemo had any adverse affect on the lungs. My kidneys were up to the task, and my lungs were in ok shape. So after the operation, it was time to begin the chemo.

    (I want to make it quite clear that what happened to me during my chemo, does not happen to everyone. No two people have the same side effects, some people can go through it and just feel tired and a little sick, others can have more serious side effects. My advice is prepare yourself mentally for what it could do. the key is trying to find the balance where it does the maximum damage to the cancer and as little damage to you as possible, which is a very difficult thing to do.)

    I will always remember being excited at the start of my chemo, it finally seemed that we were taking the cancer head on, something that seemed to take an eternity to me, (but in reality took just over two weeks after my diagnosis). Something I used here was positive thinking, as you are getting the chemo, try to visualise what it is doing to the cancer. I appreciate this may not work for everyone but try it even just for 5 minutes in the day, close your eyes and just see what it is doing to the cancer. In my mind I saw the chemo as being an army, doing waves of attacks on the cancer, with every day of chemo, came another wave of attacks. Within days of me starting my chemo though, I had already begun to feel the effects of what it was doing to me. Was feeling very tired, and being very sick, and the anti-sickness tablets were not working, this was very unpleasant but at the same time I thought if it was doing this to me, then what must it be doing to the cancer cells. Then the ulcers in my mouth and throat began, that was bad, I hadn’t really felt like eating since I had begun my chemo, but due to the extent of these ulcers, I now couldn’t eat! And as the days went on, talking was becoming very difficult as well. Remember one night my uncle came up to visit me, and I couldn’t talk, I was trying to communicate through writing on bits of paper, but was very weak through chemo that my writing wasn’t readable. I think it was a very long two hours for the both of us!!!! Then came my 20th birthday on 7th April, I had set myself the goal of getting out of hospital for that but I realised about a week before then the chances of that were practically nil! Spending a birthday in hospital isn’t the greatest way of celebrating it, but the staff were very good to me, and made the best of a bad situation, they even got me a cake, but I was still unable to eat at that point. My family took me up some little presents, leaving the bigger ones for when I got out. Got some money from some people and a couple of cds from others. A few days later, things took a turn for the worse, I don’t remember all of the events but I remember losing my balance when I was on the way to the bathroom, and next thing I remember was being in the bed surrounded by about 5 doctors and nurses, (was like a scene out of casualty) It was nothing too bad but due to the chemo I was kept a very close eye on, and needed a blood transfusion, (something that would become very familiar). I had made it thorough the first bout of chemo, battered but still standing, it had been hard, but little did I know that this would only be the beginning.

    At this point I would just like to point out one or two things I hadn’t known until I went into hospital, One thing that really caused me problems in the beginning was the amount of tablets, was around 12-16 a day at one point and for someone who has trouble taking a simple painkiller, this was not easy! Your body has a way of adapting to it though, and now tablets go down with no trouble whatsoever! Another thing I never realised was the amount of blood that needs to be taken, it is constant, I understand why it needs to be done, to see how all the counts are, platelets/red blood cells/white blood cells ect, tumour counts. But the body does adapt for a time, I swear I wasn’t feeling the needle, although am not sure if it was just because of how ill I was I wasn’t feeling it, but you do learn to cope with it. I was waiting now to see how my tumour count was, to put things into context, a normal person has a tumour count of 5, and at the start of my treatment mine was 20’000. In my mind I think I knew the chemo had to have some effect, my thinking was if it had done that to me, what did it do to the tumour, the thing it was there to attack, my tumour count had fallen very significantly, and my doctor saw it as being very positive. So I went in to the second bout of chemo again full of new hope and spirit for the fight.

    The second bout of chemo had gone similar as the 1st, I had felt very ill, and sickness was a regular thing, I also had to get platelets and blood transfusions to help me through the next course of chemo, I was again eating very little and it was beginning to show on me, you could see that I was losing weight, people who were coming to see me were noticing it. Also anything that I was eating had a metallic taste to it, which is another side effect of the chemo, it put me off even the things that I liked the most. It was at this point that I had begun to lose my hair, big clumps were coming out daily and I took the decision to have it shaved, just get it over and done with quickly, rather than having it coming out over weeks and maybe clumps of hair being kept in. For a lot of people this is a very stressful part of the treatment, the loss of hair, for me it wasn’t. The way I looked at it was that my friends had been saying for ages to get a skinhead, that it would suit me and I always said no, this way I was getting one and it was for free! (Some may think I am not being very serious here, but I always tried to look at things in a humorous way, and while there weren’t many humorous moments, this was one of them.) For some people this would have been a big problem but for me it really wasn’t a problem. I was losing my hair, big deal, the important thing was to survive and anyway skinheads were all the fashion last year! (Or so i am told anyway!)

    After the second bout the tumour counts were still going down but I was getting very depressed, It sort of sneaks up on you, it is not something that happens, one day you are happy, the next day you aren’t. In my case I think it was the fact I was far away from home and the way my treatment was hammering me so much. My doctor put me on anti-depressants; this was one move I wasn’t overly enthuasastic about, I had heard many stories in the press about people getting addicted to them and not being able to come off them, But I had a long chat with my doctor and he reassured me that there was no risk, it was a move that had to be done and I would urge anyone who is in a similar situation to accept the help offered, beating any disease is as much a mental battle as anything else. I had days that were up and down, some I would be up, others it would be difficult to just get washed in the mornings, other days I would have a bit more go in me, but it was difficult.

    The chemotherapy causes so many different things to happen to you that you don’t realise how much it really does to you, it can damage everything from your teeth to your nails, I actually lost the two toenails from my two big toes. My teeth were badly affected as well, (and I am having numerous visits to the dentist now to sort them out.) It can also cause sickness and a loss of appetite, and for me the heat was a huge problem, I was sweating like anything even when it wasn’t very hot, and this continued all the way through my treatment. However in spite of all this, always try to focus on the fact that it is there to get rid of the cancer cells, and if it does start to give you bad side effects, then think what it must be doing to the cancer,

    The next bout of chemo was the worst time for me in all my time in the hospital, il be honest in that I don’t have too much memories of this period. In what was par for the course with me, I was being very sick with the chemo and by this point I had been fitted with a feeding tube through my nose to try and just hold me at the weight I was at. I hadn’t been feeling very well for 2 or 3 days before that and the doctors were keeping a close eye on me, I remember it was a Saturday morning I really did not have any energy to do anything, (this was normal for me after chemo, but it was more than that) and I remember going to bed in the afternoon, and that was my last memory for around 10 days. In my “missing” time, I had been rushed into the intensive care unit; my body’s organs had begun to shut down and I was seriously ill, my doctor told me afterwards that I must have had something to fight for, since not many people who came into the unit as ill as I was made it back out alive. Basically I had caught a bug that had caused major problems, my white cell count – which fights infections, had gone down to zero due to the chemo, and my immune system was non-existent. The fact was I did have something to fight for, all the support and cards I had been given from people, and I put them up on my wall in the hospital, and on days when I felt I had nothing left I would look on all the cards and say to myself, “you cant give up, you have all these people in your corner fighting with you,” and that would give me a boost. As much as I had to beat the disease for myself, I had too many people with me on the journey, (as I like to refer to it) to give up.

    I was in intensive care for 10 days and I really have no memory of it – due to being heavily sedated, I was talking to people but have no memory of it, due to me having an oxygen mask on, it was difficult to talk. I remember asking my nurse how long I was in intensive care and when she said 10 days I was stunned, thought I had only been in for 3 at most, I even missed my beloved Rangers winning the league, even though when I was told was convinced it was a wind up!!

    I had suffered a slightly collapsed lung, and I had also suffered a hole in my bowel, which the doctors said was caused by the chemo, so I had to have a drain fitted in my stomach, (to drain away stuff coming out of the bowel) I wish I had still been sedated for that, it was not a nice experience. I was eventually allowed out of the intensive care unit, and back on my own ward. The experience had a major effect on me though; I think it was the first time that I had truly experienced fear for a long time, (which may sound silly with everything that went wrong with me, but for the most part I was able to block out any fear that I felt.) I got very depressed again for a variety of reasons, the main one though was being unable to walk, all the muscles in my legs had basically wasted away to nothing and I now needed help with everything: washing dressing, brushing my teeth even going to the toilet. I just had absolutely nothing left to fight with at this point; I was both physically and mentally exhausted. I just cut myself off from what was happening in the rest of the world. My doctor said I had enough chemo, (due to the severe side effects) and agreed the main thing was to try and get me moving again and trying to get me to eat some proper food. As I had said earlier, I had suffered a slightly collapsed lung, and lying in bed, (which I was doing!) wasn’t the best thing for it, so the nurses had to try and get me sitting up in a chair. I had spent at least a week confined to my bed, not only because I couldn’t walk but also my body needed time to recover from everything that it had gone through while being in intensive care.

    The first day it was tried will live long in my memory, it was a Sunday afternoon and got helped to sit at the side of my bed and I thought I was going to pass out there and then, my head just started spinning, (the reason for this was that I had been lying for so long, that my balance was affected) then came the time to try and get to the chair. I walked around 3 steps, (aided by about 4 nurses) and I was in tears because of the sheer pain. I sat for around half an hour in the chair, and it physically tired me out, then came going back. The nurses got me a lifting device to transport me from the chair to the bed, as I was so tired from the first trip. I will always remember asking my doctor the next day would I ever be able to walk properly and run again, he told me I would but it was going to take a long time, on hearing that I smiled, that was becoming a familiar phrase “going to take a long time”.

    I had gotten very down, as I had said before and I really did not want to do anything, and the normally optimistic me just could not find anything to be optimistic about. I had plenty of time to think in there; (in many ways this was a good thing for me, as I was able to really get things sorted out in my head. But at times this was a bad thing, as I was letting the bad things that had happened to me while I was in hospital get into my head, something that was not good for me at all.) It was during this time that something had struck me that made me feel ready for the next battle, it had dawned on me that I had beaten the absolute worst that the cancer and the chemo could throw at me, yes it had left me very poorly and yes it was going to take a long time for me to get back where I was physically but I had beaten it. This gave me such a big boost I cannot really put it into words how much it had helped me. I was back in the fight, but the fight was only just beginning. (Again)

    This was a different battle though. My cancer was under control but my body was a wreck, and the fight was to get the muscles working and to regain weight, also try and inflate my partially deflated lung, and also hope that the hole I had in the bowel would heal up without the need of surgery! (Piece of cake really!!) So I was given a variety of breathing exercises to do by the physio’s. I always use to call them the slave-drivers because they would work me so hard, but it was what was needed, I would urge anyone to follow what they say 100%, even if you can feel you can do more, (and maybe you could for that day) but you will be unable to do anything the next day! (As happened to me on more than 1 occasion)

    Something I have yet to mention is the fact that I turned into an insomniac while I was in hospital, I just could not get to sleep and would have my radio on til maybe 5 in the morning, and then sleep for around an hour and a half, and then be wide awake for the day, the sleeping tablets were not having an effect on me whatsoever, I think I must have become immune to them! I don’t know how I made it through those few weeks without being physically exhausted, I suppose the reason that it didn’t happen was that I wasn’t using up a lot of energy, (since I had very little) and my body just got into that routine, (thankfully it got out of it in around 2/3 weeks)

    Taking in things that I really liked and having me eat whatever I could of them treated the eating situation! Which at times had some very funny situations where I was eating very little, and my family were getting mini picnics every day!! At this point the hole in the bowel was causing some concern, as I could have needed surgery but I was not physically ready for an operation, luckily my doctor told me that most probably my bowel would heal itself and if it didn’t then an op would not be for a while yet, at least until I had more strength. At least now the main focus for me was getting some strength back in me. I was able to focus on this one thing rather than having to deal with other things on top of that.

    The physios were there every day, working on me, giving me exercises and getting me up and walking again, in a strange way this was the easiest part of my time in hospital, (don’t get me wrong here, this was a huge challenge to do. What I am trying to say is that I knew what the outcome would be at the end of it. For many of the other things I had to endure/cope with in the hospital, there were no guarantees on how things would go and things were really out of my hands. At least for getting myself back on my feet, I had a major role to play in it, rather than having to rely on drugs, this was a battle I could fight and that is a great feeling, just to have some control back, you have to be really positive to beat this disease and when you are like that, it does play a huge part in your recovery, but this was the first real time I could do something myself and see the gradual improvement on me.) This may sound daft to people who have never been in this situation, but even just sitting at the side of my bed took a huge amount of energy out of me, the first day I got up to walk, (with support from my physios) was so difficult, the pain in your muscles in your legs was just something awful, I was in tears just walking to the end of my room and back to my bed, (and that was only about 10 foot.) I think I just slept for the rest of the day recovering from that. Apart from having to get all my exercises to try and help my legs get stronger and more flexible. Had to do them 4 or 5 times a day, and it was good, having something to do, rather than lying on a bed all day being unable to do anything.

    Things were beginning to look up, I was eating a wee bit more, and I took a fancy for a milkshake, (and I was still very weak) and anyone who has ever drunk a milkshake from Burger king knows that they are the hardest things to drink even when you are fit and healthy! I had to leave it for around 5 hours for all the ice cream in it to just melt before I could begin to drink it. That is what happens to a lot of people when they haven’t been eating for a long time, they take cravings for things. The worst example I can give about this was when I wanted a meal from MacDonald’s, I don’t even normally eat there, and the staff were very good in getting it for me, as they were only to happy to see me wanting to eat something. Took my meal and actually enjoyed, then about two hours later, I begun to feel a bit “funny”, was feeling very full up and then something happened that had not been there for a few weeks, I was sick, and the amount of times it happened it more than made up for the missed few weeks. Was rushed down for x-rays that night, and they were fine, which was a good thing, but it still didn’t solve the puzzle on why I was being sick. It had seemed to settle down, and then was put on my liquid feed, and within an hour of that being put on I was throwing up again. The problem was that my bowel – which had very little “solid” i.e. – real food, to deal with over the last month or so, and my bowel could not cope with the amount of food that I ate, it had become sluggish and there was very little that could be done except just give it a rest for a day or so, and start the eating process again, and to just eat snacks and things rather than try to eat a big meal, that my body just couldn’t handle, and this time not to make the mistake of tucking into a MacDonald’s meal early on this time, what I had to remember was that while my bowel was sluggish, I also had a tumour still there, taking up space which meant that I couldn’t eat mountains of food then, even if I had wanted to. Which I didn’t! (Needless to say, I now try to avoid MacDonald’s at all costs)

    My walking had started to come on a good bit; well, I was still needing a lot of support to do walking, but I was slowly beginning to get that wee bit further everyday, the way I tried to do this was set myself a target every day. Walking around my bed once, then after achieving that, trying to do it twice, then upping it to twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Around about a week later I made it out of my room and was walking in the corridor, the huge cheer I got from the nurses felt great, I knew I had achieved something. It may not seem like much but when you had been stuck in your bed, thinking that you may never walk again, to do something like that, felt like winning the lottery.

    When my chemotherapy started back in March, I had set myself the target of being out of hospital by the end of June, I was told from the beginning that I was setting myself a very tough target, but it was something that I had wanted to do, I knew myself I wasn’t going to make that target long before the end of June, but it was something that gave me a bit more motivation. At this point my doctors were asking me how I would feel about getting closer to home, I was delighted by this and was shocked when I was told I would be going to Raigmore Hospital on Monday 20th June, (in a weeks time). The main reason for me going there was to get some time with my friends and family and get the chance to go home for a few weeks get a bit of normality back into my life. Of course, it was never going to be that simple with me, I had caught a sickness bug, it was nothing major, but had meant that I would need to stay in hospital for a few days longer. For once though, this black cloud had a silver lining, I had mentioned before that I was a huge Rangers fan, well the nurses at the Beatson arranged for Mark Hateley (the former rangers footballer) to come in and visit me. I had no idea of this and when someone came into my room, I just assumed it was another doctor, or someone wanting more blood from me, when I realised who it was, I was gob smacked, for around the first 5 minutes I just kept saying “I don’t believe it.” When I had managed to compose myself, we got some photos taken and he signed some autographs for myself and my friends, then me and Mark were left to chat, he seemed so interested in me, what I did, I even tried to talk him into playing a match for my local football team. We spent around an hour chatting and I could have gone on for hours. He also brought me a signed shirt, and rangers goodie bag, with a variety of things in it. I had already been on a high with getting to Inverness, but this put me into orbit; everyone was saying it was great to see me smiling again, (if I’m being honest here, smiling was something I had nearly forgot how to do.) Even now if I am having a bad day, I think of that day and it brings a smile to my face. There was one more surprise for me before I was allowed to leave the hospital; I had thought I was going by ambulance to Inverness, (a thought that didn’t really fill me with glee due to the first trip down to Glasgow, and that was before all my treatment) I found out the day before I was leaving by plane! I was delighted by this, not least because this would be my first time in a plane, and even though I was strapped into a stretcher on the plane, seeing the clouds on a beautiful summers day made me appreciate all the more why I was fighting to live.

    The main reason for me going to raigmore was to build me up weight wise, and try and get my muscles working and built some strength up, and the eventual aim was to get me home to Embo, spent some time there before going back to Glasgow for my next course of treatment. The thing that excited me the most (apart from seeing my family and friends) was the fact that I was there to just get some strength back. I again saw this as a game, and the chance to work out in the gym was another big incentive for me. The chance to interact with others was a huge thing for me, as was just to be back in the highlands, it put me on such a high that I felt like I was flying! Being in the gym was a lot of fun but it was HARD work, I only did around 30 minutes a day down there which was split around walking, on the exercise bike and some weights. I also did some walking around the ward, but it really took a lot out of me, I was having to going to sleep in the afternoon I was so tired. My sleeping pattern was all over the place and I was up watching history programmes in the early hours of the morning. It was good though as I was able to learn a lot of new stuff about history that I didn’t know before, and also brush up on things that I knew already.

    I was still nowhere near being the way I was, I was still stuck in the wheelchair, and even the heat from the shower in the hospital could make me feel very faint, it was just because I was very weak, and simple things like that were not at all simple any more.

    After around a week of hard physio, I was told by my doctor that I would be given the chance to go home for the weekend the following Friday, If everything went fine, I would be out of hospital properly on the Tuesday, I was so excited by this, it felt like I had been given the best Christmas present and birthday present I could ever get.

    i had to prove to the hospital that I was fit enough to go home, I had to show I could go up and down the stairs ok, the challenge had been thrown down and I wasn’t ready to let the chance to get home slip through my fingers. I was more motivated than ever to show I could do it. It was hard but I proved I was up to going home.

    It was great to go home, but at the same time a sense of nerves began to set in, would my friends still treat me the same, would people I knew still treat me the same. It was fears that I had no reason to have; my friends just treated me as before. I suppose that I felt being stuck in a wheelchair and having a feeding tube up my nose, put a fear in me that people would look at me differently. The weekend went brilliant, and I even had a bit of Sunday dinner, (I could not wait to get that to be honest!) Wasn’t able to eat a lot of it, but it was great.

    I mentioned earlier that I had a drain placed in my stomach, well it had been hoped that my bowel had healed up, so the drain was to be removed. This was almost as painful coming out as it was going in, but the pain only lasted a few minutes luckily. Then I was ready to go home, it was only going to be for around 2 weeks, but after how long I had been in hospital, that two weeks seemed like a lifetime. I was still in a wheelchair and had a feeding tube connected up to me still, but I was home. For me this was brilliant, just to have a chance to get into my own routine, not having to get up at 8, catch up with all the gossip about all my friends and what they had been doing over the summer. It was great just to have a few weeks that belonged to me. Being able to go out with my cousin to play a few games of pool, (although I was in the wheelchair). It was nice just to do some normal things. I even was starting to get some hair back on my head!! But I knew that the hair would be coming off, when I had my next course of chemo. Being in the wheelchair did get to me sometimes, it was more frustration than anything, having to rely on my family to do things that normally I would take for granted, but thankfully these times did not happen much.

    After 2 weeks iback in the Beatson in Glasgow for my final 2 courses of chemo before I would end up having my surgery, there was a small chance at this point that I wouldn’t have needed surgery, but I knew in my heart that I would need it. I had my chemo, and there was the usual tiredness, but the sickness was non-existent, which was a pleasant surprise, and my doctor said it would be ok for me to take a few days up in Embo after my chemo, I did that but that was probably a mistake, I was pretty ill from the moment that we arrived in Embo, was hoping to see some friends, but there was no way I was up for that, went off my food for a few days as well, (which is a normal side effect for chemo) and was sick once, was really good for me, since I had normally been sick as a dog when I ever had chemo. So went back to Glasgow a few days later thinking that I had got over the worst of the side effects, but I was wrong,
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    It was on the Saturday night that it happened, I went for a lie down as I was feeling a wee bit tired, then I realised that I couldn’t get my breath, shouted for my aunt and then my uncle took me straight into the Beatson, and it was found that I had contracted a tummy bug, but since my immune system was so low, it caused a lot more problems than it would for anyone else, however this side effect meant that my doctor didn’t want me to go through any more chemo, so I would not have any more and now my operation would be in September, would go in on the 19th to the Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow for my operation to remove what was left of the tumour from my stomach, I will admit I felt a bit of nerves when I heard this, just because I was not going to be with those who had seen me through my journey from the beginning at the Beatson, however was relieved when I saw my surgeon would be Mr Hendry, who had operated on me when I had to have my testicle removed. Went for my check up at Glasgow and everything was fine and I was allowed to go home, and the final words from my doctor was “to enjoy the next few weeks”

    I was a lot more mobile now, I couldn’t go too far but was able to have a lot more independence of my own, met up with a lot of friends, had a few nights out. Just really trying to catch up with what everyone had been doing, also went down to the football at Ross County, which was fun, (If only the result had been better, County lost!) It was so good meeting up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, we had a little reunion and around 10 of us turned up, which was nice for me to see so many friends, and it was nice for them to see me looking a lot more healthier than when many of them last saw me, I wasn’t looking great, but was looking a damn site better than I had done when I was in the hospital.

    I had also been invited to a friends wedding dance that was taking place in the middle of October, this was something I had aimed to try and be able to go to, although in my mind at that point there was no chance of me being fit for it.

    I was still needing my liquid feed through the feeding tube, which limited my movements a little, (for example, if I was out late one night, then I couldn’t go early the next morning, until the feed had finished) Although if I was out late one night, I would probably need the next day to recover! Although the feeding tube came out halfway through my time at home and since I was eating ok then, it was decided that it would not be getting replaced, that was so good for me to finally lose that, It made me feel like a normal person again, rather than having bits of tape on my face holding the feeding tube in place. It did me a lot of good, but I was so glad when it came off me.

    Again, with all good things it seems, the time went all too quickly and I was back in hospital preparing for my operation. I wasn’t feeling too much fear at this point, I was concerned, but was confident that I would get through it fine. I saw some scans of my tumour and I knew the chemo had done a great job, I mentioned earlier that my tumour in my abdomen was 20cm, well it had shrunk to under 5cm, which was a huge improvement, and as I was told, the smaller it is, the easier it is for the surgeons to do their job and get it out.

    The only time I felt fear was when my doctor went through all the things that could go wrong, things like having to have my kidney removed, maybe ending up in intensive care. I was assured that the chances of this happening were very slim, and I always remember saying to him, “don’t tell me then, I would rather not know” but unfortunately I had to know everything. Another fact that scared me was my op would be 10 hours long; I think it was just the idea of being in the operating theatre for so long. I think I texted every person on my phone the night before the op, just rambling on about who knows what, I don’t think I made much sense that night. I was just listening to music for a long time that night, just to try and focus my mind. I always remember thinking that I had gone through so much over the past few months; I was not going to be beaten at the final hurdle.

    Got woken at around 7:30 to get ready for my op, I went down there focused, and I remember asking Mr hendry if I was the only person in the theatre for that day, he said yes, and I remember joking that at least he wouldn’t make any mistakes by trying to get rid of me quickly to get another patient in, that is all I remember…

    I woke up very groggy, in the recovery room at the operating theatre; I saw Mr Hendry and the first thing I asked was “did everything go ok?” Ws thrilled when he told me the operation went as well as it could, there had been no complications. I was in the high dependency unit and I don’t remember much about the first night, just that I couldn’t get much sleep since my blood pressure, heart-rate ect was being checked, and my epidural, which I was told was normally used for pregnant women, was being given to me to help stop the pain from all the stitches needed to sew me back up!

    The next day I was sitting in the chair at the side of my bed, this was not at all easy, even with all the painkillers, I developed a fear that my stitches were going to burst, and despite the assurances of the nurses and doctors who were looking after me, it was a fear I could not get out of my head.

    On the Friday, I was finding it really difficult to move out of the bed and I just broke down in tears. It was part of frustration due to being unable to do anything for myself again, and also a sense of relief as I had made it through the operation, and (hopefully) my cancer would have been gone. I just sobbed for around half an hour, In a way I suppose I turned off my emotions in that last few months about the cancer, it was one way I used to cope with what was happening, and that day was me just letting it all out, letting go of what had happened before and now looking to the new challenges which stood in front of me, and my first challenge was to get moving freely again.

    I had to wait around two weeks for the lab report to see if the tumour had been all dead tissue, or if there had been any active cancer cells in the tumour, this was something that didn’t worry me since at this point I was concentrating on just trying to get back on my feet and trying to eat again, as I had gone off my food for a few days after the operation, which wasn’t uncommon after an operation like this, but just with my weight still not being up to what it should be for my height, the sooner I begun to eat again, the better. I had got back into reading again and was gripped by The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, think I read the book in around 6 days, (just shows how much time I had to do reading and watch the odd dvd, as I had my personal dvd player in with me, but I wasn’t too interested in it. I was feeling very tired after the operation but was told I should feel tired, as the operation I went through was the equivalent of someone running a marathon.

    I will always remember when I was lying in bed reading my book, a priest came in to see me and said a prayer and while he was doing that, the machine that was monitoring my heart-rate/blood pressure, was beeping constantly and the look on the face of the priest was pure fear, think he thought something had happened to me, he told me afterwards that he thought that my heart had stopped beating, but it was a common occurrence while I was in there. I had to smile when he told me this, found it really funny, but I have always said I try to find the funny side of things like this and I wasn’t going to let a chance like this go to waste. The one part I had a major problem with was the big scar on my stomach, I could not bring myself to look at it, it had been left strapped up and I didn’t want to look at it, I think I had created the image in my mind of what it would look like, and when I eventually looked at the scar, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, my doctor told me I should tell the grandkids that granddad was attacked by a great white shark, but he said that the true story about it is exciting and very inspiring to people.

    I was in the high dependency unit for 8 days, and I had made massive leaps and regained a lot of movement thanks to the great work of the physios at Gartnavel, and my appetite had come back, so my doctor saw no reason for me to be kept in any longer as my recovery would work just as well at home as in hospital, so I was deemed fit enough to go to my aunt and uncles in Glasgow, I was told not to even consider going home by car since it would be far too painful for me to wear a seatbelt for the journey from Glasgow back to Embo, so I rested up in Glasgow for a few days, then got the train back to Inverness and the bus home to Embo, was absolutely shattered by the time I got home, a little reminder that while I was feeling better, I was still not firing on all cylinders and wouldn’t be for a while yet.

    I had made it home though and that was a great feeling to have, although we still didn’t know the outcome of what was in the tumour, all we could do on that score was wait.

    My recovery from the surgery was not simple, then again when was any of my treatment simple!! I had an infection in my wound, which needed to be kept a close eye on; thankfully the doctors and nurses at the Dornoch Health Centre did just that for me. It thankfully cleared up within a week or so.

    Then I got the news that I had been waiting for since I got my diagnosis, I was in remission, got a phone call from my doctor in Dornoch, the tumour that had been sent for tests had come back and it was all dead tissue and there was no living cancer cells there. To say I was happy wouldn’t do justice to how I was feeling. It is the best feeling in the world and I admit I cried when I got the news, it was as if a burden that had been going around with me had finally been lifted from my shoulders. The plan now was to look forward and I did just that by going to my friends (Katie and David’s) wedding dance. I had a great time that night, and for the first time in a long time, I just put to the back of my mind the experiences of the last few months and concentrated on enjoying myself, I was even up for a few dances that night, and even had a go at some party dances, (although I am more Fred Flintstone than Fred Astaire at the best of times when it comes to dancing!) That was a good night though, was great seeing some people that I haven’t seen in a LONG time, in a couple of years in some cases.

    Went to my check up in December at Glasgow and it was my last check up down there, I now go to Raigmore in Inverness. It was a weird feeling walking back into the Beatson after everything that had happened over the last year to me there, it is a strange sensation, for me it sent a few shivers down my spine, I said my goodbyes to all the staff at the Beatson, all the doctors and nursing staff who did so much for me during my time there, everything from watching me and dressing me to giving me a shoulder to cry on when I needed it. I would personally like to thank all the nursing staff in the Beatson, I think I got to know you all during my time there, and you will never know how grateful I am for everything you have done for me. Most of all though I’d like to thank Doctor Jeff White and his team, you filled me with confidence from my first day in the Beatson, and you saw me through all the bad times that we had. Despite everything that was happening, you gave me hope even when I felt I had nothing left to give. Words cannot express how grateful I am to you all, but thank you for everything,

    What about the future, well I am hoping to be fit enough to go back to work in April, I know it wont be easy but that is the target that I have set myself, and along with my doctor we think that this is a reasonable chance of me being able to make it. Next year I will be going back to Dundee University to study History and Politics and hopefully move onto a career in teaching History. If that doesn’t work I could always have a go at being an MP!! If this does anything for anyone then I hope that it shows cancer patients that just because you may have the disease, you cannot let it rule your life, the way I look at it is that I have had to put my life on hold for around 18 months until I am properly fit to go back to university, but if I change my life just because I have had cancer, then I am letting it rule me, and that is something that I am not going to let happen. This experience has also allowed me to really appreciate life, simple things like just being able to walk, things that would really worry me before really don’t matter at all now, why worry about the things you have no control over, just worry about the things you can influence. I suppose what I am trying to say is that sometimes we all hurry through life and just take things for granted, one of those things was for me to go down to the beach in Embo, It has always been a nice beach, but when I came back home and took a walk on it, it was only then I truly realised how beautiful it was.

    One more thing, if you think you have a lump or anything, PLEASE get it checked out by your doctor, the earlier you catch this disease, the better your chances of beating it, but even if you have got something, and you have been scared to go to the doctor, then go now. There is no guarantee it is cancer, could be something very simple, but it is always better to get these things checked out now, rather than waiting and letting things linger

    Thank you for listening.
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    This happened 6 years ago while i was at uni. I made it back to uni and got my degree. Just want to show anyone else in this position that you can beat this!
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    (Original post by wilco04)
    x
    wow. That really made me think. Thank you for sharing your story with TSR.
    Well done for beating it!
    I hope that you do become an MP and a teacher because you are inspiration, and you did not give up. You gave yourself targets and you stuck to them.
    Really really thank you and I'm so happy that you're on the road to recovery now.
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    Sorry but that was a wall of text. I'm glad you've survived though.
    • Thread Starter
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    Yeah i realise it is a long read. Just hope it helps anyone going through the same kind of thing and shows that there is a way through.
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    Thank you error. That is the hope anyway that it makes people think and helps others as well. I didn't go down the teaching route in the end but still have ambitions of being an mp one day!
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    You've made me wanna book a doctors appointment. I haven't been feeling right and there#'s not point putting it off! I'm so glad you're ok now .
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    (Original post by flying saucers)
    You've made me wanna book a doctors appointment. I haven't been feeling right and there#'s not point putting it off! I'm so glad you're ok now .
    Go to the doctors asap! Hopefully it's nothing.

    I think it's a shame that not more TSRians have read this thread ...
    • #1
    #1

    Thank you for sharing this. My boyfriend is currently going through a cancer scare, he's having his testicle removed on monday. Reading this has greatly encouraged me that if it turns out to be bad (they haven't said what it is as of yet, they don't seem to know), people do get through it.
    People hear the C word, and yeah its scary as hell. More people should share their own stories, to help people going through similar things.

    I am glad you are on the road to recovery, and thank you again for sharing your inspirational experience.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Thank you for sharing this. My boyfriend is currently going through a cancer scare, he's having his testicle removed on monday. Reading this has greatly encouraged me that if it turns out to be bad (they haven't said what it is as of yet, they don't seem to know), people do get through it.
    People hear the C word, and yeah its scary as hell. More people should share their own stories, to help people going through similar things.

    I am glad you are on the road to recovery, and thank you again for sharing your inspirational experience.
    Goodluck to your boyfriend, and I really hope the operation goes okay. You can PM me any time you want a chat about anythingggg.
    Take careeee.
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    (Original post by wilco04)
    ...
    It was quite a long read admittedly, however I think it is one everyone should read as it is quite inspiring (if thats really the word to use) Many more people should be made aware of cancers and such as many people just live their lives thinking they are going to be the one that doesn't get it. Unfortunately it affects a lot of people.
    The wayyou got through it however is very inspiring and shows that, even though you did not at the time have much physical strength, you did have incredible amounts of mental strength to keep fighting through.
    Cancer is a horrible and very often a deadly disease. I lost my nan nearly a year ago to bowel cancer. I know no matter what she tried she wouldn't pull through as she was in advance stages. all they could do was make her time more pleasant. At the time of her death I was pregnant and was to find out the sex a few weeks later on her birthday.
    I never got to see her before she passed away.
    Your story shows there is hope for people with cancer and that there is always something to fight for.
    I truly admire your strength

    (Original post by Error)
    Go to the doctors asap! Hopefully it's nothing.

    I think it's a shame that not more TSRians have read this thread ...
    It is a shame that more have not read this.
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    Inspirational sotry....but dont you get a lump on ur tescticles if its cancer?
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    I wish all the best to him and you because you will both need strength through this. Hopefully it is not to serious for him.
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    Lumps are not always noticeable. For example a person who does not check will not really notice unless it is a large lump.
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    Yeah, I wanted to ask this, are the lumps always noticeable and are they usually big.
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    I'm actually speechless...

    Thank you for opening up and sharing that, you've definitely opened my eyes in regards to the battle which people are fighting daily with cancer.

    I sincerely wish you all the best in everything you do, you bloody well deserve it!
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    Thanks for all the comments. Like i say if it can help others and ensure they examine themselves then that is fantastic. Firestar. The lumps can be difficult to detect which is why you need to examine yourself. Also a lump does not mean cancer. More likely it is any number of other things but always better if you find anything to get it checked out ASAP
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    Thanks for sharing this- read it all!!! I think you're so brave and glad you have recovered
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    That was quite a read! All I can say is wow, what an amazing inspiring story

    Congrats on your degree, and for beating cancer! Best of luck for the future
    x
 
 
 
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