It’s been 3 weeks now since the lung surgery and I most certainly feel ‘back on form’ again. As it had been a while since I felt the buzz of running in a race (last one being London marathon back in April), I decided to enter a local 10k last weekend. I can’t deny it was fantastic to be back, remembering ‘that feeling’ once again. As I was aware that the lungs are not back to where they were pre-surgery I didn’t push too hard – it wasn’t about ‘the time’, it was really just about the ‘knowing I could still do it’. I am up to around 25 miles a week now and over the coming months my plan is to gradually increase that mileage in the slow build up to the London marathon 2017 which I have in my mind to do again….for my friends at Beating Bowel Cancer of course!:-) Yesterday I met up with Alice to discuss the next steps. She was very pleased with how both the surgeries went and also how my recovery was going. I was naturally thrilled to hear that she didn’t feel it was necessary at this stage to do any more chemo. She explained that this maybe something which will come into play if and when I have a recurrence….let’s hope not eh!. It’s funny but as time passes since I was first diagnosed (back in Dec 2013), somehow I feel differently about everything....I am now acutely aware that ‘cancer’ will probably always be a part of my life in one way or another and that I will go from scan to scan in the hope that I will never see it again. In a strange sort of way it is a kind of motivator for me as I remind myself how much easier it is to get over treatment (whether it be surgery and / or chemo / radio) the fitter you are…..now as I go out on each run, whether it is a training run or a race, in the back of my mind I have this underlying thought. At the end of the day I remain determined to not allow Cancer to run my life….if it comes back so be it….I know I will be ready again for ‘the fight’ should this be the case. However, while I remain ‘free of it’ as I now am, I will carry on enjoying and living life to the full. If there is one thing that all the ‘ups and downs’ over the past 3 years has taught me it’s that with the right support around you, coupled with a focused and positive attitude you really can beat it. For anyone else out there who is unfortunate enough to ever hear those dreaded words “you have cancer”, remember this doesn’t mean your life is over…..quite the contrary, it can often be a chance to refocus your mind and energies on something far more positive!
So with the second lung op now just over 1 week behind me, I am thrilled to say that I am feeling great and ready to face whatever more is thrown at me...hopefully nothing more:-). Fortunately once again it was another keyhole which has meant a speedy recovery. Other than a little tight chested I am all good. I have managed a few runs this week which has made such a difference to how I feel!. Another oncologist appointment in a couple of weeks and let's see what happens next. As I write this I am reminded once again that is those who have to live with someone who is going through cancer treatment that is so often forgot...I am so lucky to have Catherine, my wife 'on my team'...she has been through the whole thing and stood by me every single step the way!. Never have the wedding vows of 'through sickness and in health' been so tested in our marriage...well I can say Catherine 'has been tested' and passed with flying colours!!. Thankyou so much Catherine, we move on 'once again' sweetheart! X
So it's been a month now since the lung surgery. The wound itself it now almost completely healed and I am feeling good. Keeping the running going has always been an important part of what has got me through the treatment, as I know I have said on numerous occasions before. It has been no exception this time and despite the fact that I have had to lower the distance I am doing on each run, just 'getting out there' has been so important. My lungs feel a bit tight however I am confident that if I can build it back up slowly then I will be back to where I was before sometime soon. With just over 2 weeks until the second lung operation (14th Sept), I intend to keep banking the mileage as best as I can. During the last few weeks I have been really pleased to be able to reach out to a few people who have been in touch with me through 'runthroughcancer'. If there is one single piece of advise I would give it would be to 'not let the cancer dictate your life'. Make the cancer 'fit around you', not the other way round. Stick to that rule and you WILL get through it!!.
With a week now gone since the lung surgery I thought I would post a quick update. So with some anticipation there I was back on 'the slab':-) last Thursday. Catherine drove me in early for what ended up being a really successful day. To cut a long story short, the surgery went well and they managed to take it out using keyhole as planned (there was an outside chance they may have had to open me up however this proved not to be necessary....phew!). I was told that it maybe a 3-5 day stay, however fortunately they 'let me loose' the day after. It was great to get back into my own bed on the Friday night. Recovery has been going well with the painkillers doing their job nicely!. I was back in work on Tuesday which was great to be able to do as well. No running yet, however I am hopeful and confident that next week I can get the trainers back on. I have to admit that I had expected to feel very out of breath from the surgery, however so far it is feeling good...lets see what happens when I start running again!. Surgery number 2, first week in September...bring it on!.
Unfortunately I found out last week that the cancer is back...this time in my lungs. It’s difficult to describe how I feel on being told for the third time that I will go ‘under the knife’. Sometime I joke to myself that I feel I am running out of organs for it to go:-) Thanks to the support of everyone over the past 2.5 years, in particular my family, I can honestly say that I feel completely mentally ready to take on 'the fight' once again….third time lucky this time hopefully!. The positives from what I have been told are that despite the fact that there are ‘deposits’ which have been picked up on both lungs (following a PET scan), they are very small and also very slow growing. What this means in practise is that they are both treatable and more importantly curable. Of course, unlike the liver which grows back, this won’t be the case for the lungs. However the fact that I already have a fairly ‘fit and healthy set’ should mean that this stands me in much better position to recover quicker. Following a meeting with my surgeon yesterday the plan is to operate late July. The London marathon which I did back in April was another reminder of how lucky I have been throughout the past 3 years since diagnosis……the fact that I have been able to maintain my running throughout has been quite literally a ‘life saver’. I see no reason why this cannot continue following this new surgery, although of course I am mindful that it may well have some impact more directly given where it is. As I did before I intend to get myself as fit as possible beforehand and so will keep ‘racking up those miles’ in the coming weeks. Bottom line is that I remain very positive for the prognosis following surgery and I just hope that this really will be the end of it once and for all and I can put my ‘cancer days’ behind me. Once again thank you to everyone who has so kindly donated…..just over £18k now which I am thrilled with!!!! – THANK YOU!....only £2k more to go.
With only 5 weeks to go and being mindful that I haven't posted for a while, I thought I would drop all those following me a quick update on runthroughcancer!. From a health point of view all is good!!. I had a recent blood test and met up with Alice for the usual follow up....she told me that everything was great. "Keep doing what your doing Tom" was the message loud and clear. I will see her again in June / July after the next CT / MRI Training has been going well and with the London marathon just round the corner it is dawning on me that my final challenge is nearly upon me:-). I did the Wokingham half marathon a couple of weeks back and the Surrey half marathon today as part of the training plan...both went well with a time of around 1hr 31mins in each. The last race prior to London is the Cardiff world half marathon in 2 weeks which I am really looking forward to...should be fun as I try (and fail) to chase Mo Farrah down:-). I have found myself recently looking back on the cancer journey I have been on over the last 2.5 years and I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here, particularly feeling as I do. When I was in the middle of treatment I recall constantly 'thinking and living' cancer. Now that I am over a year 'post' treatment it feels good in so many ways to get back to feeling 'normal' not only physically but mentally as well. There are so many who have got me through this. Whilst having your own focus and determination is a critical factor in getting through cancer, it cannot be done without the support of others. Without my medical team, friends and family it just simply wouldn't have been possible to get through it. The Beating Bowel Cancer team, who I am running London on behalf of are such a wonderful group of individuals who I owe such a great deal to. Their support was invaluable to me and I am committed in raising as much as I can for them so they can help others in the same way they helped me. Thank You all to those who have already donated!. However if you haven't done so and would still like to (go on, you won't regret it!!!:-), you can by click on: http:www.justgiving.com/runthroughcancer/
Back in July I had a CT scan where Alice noticed something very small on my left lung. She explained at the time that the only way of being sure whether this was the return of the cancer was to wait for another 4 months to see if it grew. It has been a fairly worrying period of time on the one hand, although I must say on the other hand I have had lots to keep me distracted...new job, marathon training, Catherine and the boys. Anyway, I have just had 'that' scan and the news is that it is all clear!....phew. She has put it down to a very small nodule which has probably always been there. Apparently we all have them:-). I have an MRI (liver) on Friday which I am confident will be ok, particularly as the latest blood tests were all good. I know it is often said that those who are the closest to the person who is actually going through the cancer treatment itself, are often forgotten and can suffer just as much. As I continue to reflect on what I have been through over the last 2 years (second anniversary being next Saturday) it is a moment for me to say just how incredible my wife Catherine has been throughout everything...without her support particularly in the 'post treatment' phase, I honestly don't think I would be in the place I am today. Once we get the MRI out the way next week, I think a big family holiday is a must!...particularly for Catherine and the boys who haven't been away for a proper break for a long time now.
As I sit in the departure lounge here at Berlin airport I have some time to reflect on what was a wonderful weekend!!. I can't say that the marathon was an easy experience this time round:-), however I loved it nonetheless. The atmosphere was terrific with around 40,000 other competitors taking part. The organisation as you can imagine (from the Germans!) was second to none!. A good friend of mine, Andy, was kind enough to support me (literally!) for the run...here we are at end standing beneath the Brandenburg gate!. For the record we both clocked times which we were both happy with (3 hrs 29 mins for me and 3 hrs 39 mins for Andy). I remain blown away by everyone's generosity in not only the donations they have made to my just giving page but also for the supportive and encouraging words I have had throughout my whole 'cancer journey' whether during or after treatment. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!. So next focus is the London marathon next April, to complete the full challenge....bring it on!!!
As its been some time now since I posted anything on 'runthroughcancer', I wanted to take the opportunity to get those who have been following me ‘up to speed’ a bit with how everything has been going. I also want to thank you many of you for your ongoing support in my mission to raise £20k for beating bowel cancer!. It’s been a fairly eventful last few months, with a number of CT and MRI scans, a job change, as well as plenty of training in the run up to the Berlin marathon on the 27th September!. I have always wanted to be as honest as possible when it has come to posting my real thoughts on 'runthroughcancer' and so I will try to stay true to this now if I can. I feel it's important to explain to those who are unfortunate enough to have to go through a similar 'cancer journey' that the effects of treatment can still be with you, even after the chemo itself has finished. The most important thing to remember is that it's perfectly normal and something that you WILL come out of and ultimately get through…I can vouch for that. Mentally it has been a roller-coaster ride since the chemo stopped with many strange and unexpected feelings. I kept asking myself the question, surely after being through what I had been through during the past 14 months I should feeling elated that it's all over. However after a few weeks of it finishing I have to admit struggling a bit to readjust to daily life. I still can't put my finger on why these feelings came on, however I am told that in a way it's a little like 'post-traumatic stress' with a sudden realisation that all the physical and mental fighting that you have gone through is suddenly over. I'm sure (and would completely understand) many of those reading this may find it difficult to understand what I am saying…......looking from the ‘outside in’ I can totally see how this may be. It's a really strange feeling coming to the end of such a long period of treatment by such a dedicated and caring medical team. Having been looked after so well for in excess of a year, everything then suddenly stops and you are a 'free man' again. I am pleased to say that those tougher days are well and truly behind me now and I am very much looking forward to the future with a great deal of optimism. Physically and mentally I feel great and have been the using the chance particularly over the past month (while I have been taking a break from work prior to the new job), to really get stuck into the marathon training. Throughout August I have managed to clock up around 370km (if you include a 20 miler I am hoping to do tomorrow) and since chemo finished a total of 1,135 km. I can’t deny that I am still feeling some of the effects of the chemo with tired / heavy legs on some runs, although would also say that its definitely getting easier with time.....overall I really can’t complain. I have also really enjoyed the past few weeks to spend plenty of time with the family and in particularly having lots of fun with the boys during the school holidays! Probably something you would fully expect coming from me, but I say this with even more conviction than when I was actually going through treatment…..’without running as a focus for me throughout not only the main 14 months of cancer treatment, but also importantly the ‘post treatment’ period afterwards, I wouldn't have got through it….that I am sure of’. I continue to have some wonderful contact with those who I have met through ‘runthroughcancer’ and remain inspired by their stories and courage….you all know who you are!. For those of you who have already donated, I cannot thank you enough for your support!. If you would still like to please do on this link, thank you!… http://www.justgiving.com/runthroughcancer I cannot promise an amazing time in Berlin as I will be just pleased to finish it if I’m honest, however I can assure you I will give it my best shot!. I have a good friend of mine, Andy, who is also coming along to run as well in aid of beating bowel cancer which I am thrilled about. Just 4 weeks to go!..... BRINGEN SIE ES AUF!!!
In my last post I mentioned that a dedicated team of 4 from my work were planning on running the Surrey half marathon today......well they did it!!...and what an amazing job they did too!. Lou, Lauren, Jon and Zoe all smashed the 13.1 mile course in around 1hr 45mins!!. They have all been such wonderful supporters to not only me but also in my charity efforts. As I write this post, I can see the total is now sitting at a staggering £10k!!!! (a large proportion of this is down to them). I consider myself to be so lucky to have such a wonderful team of supporters around me....thank-you so much for everything you have done for me and the team at beating bowel cancer!. Now go and have a well deserved drink! Both Jack and I were there to see them all off at the start and then cheer them back across the finishing line again!. Jack also did the kids 2k race coming in at position 14 in his age category!. He loved every minute of it crossing the line with a very smiley (and exhausted looking!) face.