The Olympics, spice racks and saunas
29 May 2012
I think this is a landmark -- I've decided to stop counting the weeks that have elapsed since my lung cancer diagnosis. If you've been reading this blog since the start (in which case you deserve a medal for amazing perseverance and patience) you'll know that I took comfort in counting the days, then the weeks, and finally the months that I had survived. It was a helpful way of coping with the enormous task that lay ahead. I liked to think in terms of building a slow, safe steady century (Geoffrey Boycott-style*) of days, then weeks.
Now 60 weeks on (and that really is the last time I will be counting) I no longer feel the need for this psychological support mechanism. I'll stick with just counting the big landmarks: 18 months, 2 years etc. I daresay Boycott would regard the idea of stopping counting at 60 as insane.
Besides, I had another landmark in mind from the outset, although I didn't want to share it too widely in case it seemed too optimistic. It was to stay alive and well enough to go to the London 2012 Olympics...to watch, not compete, let's be realistic! At that point they were still 16 months off, and that was a long way for me at the time, but now they seem very close. I was extremely lucky in the ballot, which was a great boost to the motivation to stay alive, and we have tickets for several events ranging from hockey and handball to athletics and weightlifting. Lucky us -- I'm getting very excited now.
I've added another implement to my anti-cancer toolkit, following the advice of Patricia Peat at Cancer Options (a free service offered by the charity Yes To Life - see below). This is a Far Infra-Red (FIR) Sauna. It's like a sleeping bag with an electronic box attached to it and acts as a cheap home sauna. The FIR technology is supposed to be particularly good for clearing out toxins, so can be helpful for cancer patients. It's a treatment known as hyperthermia, although the advice says it's best used in association with other anti-cancer treatments (for more see: www.yestolife.org.uk/newresourcestt.php/10).
Meanwhile, I have been back at the furniture-making, after a break while my tutor Tom Kealy (a brilliant teacher and master craftsman) was teaching in the States. The latest project - a relatively small one this time - is a spice rack. It's made from American Cherrywood and has two tiers for spice bottles and a side compartment for oil and vinegar bottles. It's my own design and I found the whole business of doing a 3-dimensional drawing quite a challenge. It's coming along now, although I think the picture above makes it look more like a 'desk tidy'.
The cycling is progressing, albeit slowly. Just over 100 miles under my wheels this month, which isn't nearly enough but I think I am at least getting a bit faster. Now I just need to work on the stamina and find a way of not needing 2 hours sleep after every 20 miles or so (or I'll still be finishing my 50 - 60 miles a day in Wales at midnight).
Friends, family and supporters have been extremely generous and the fund-raising total has now exceeded £3,000 to go to the charity Yes To Life. Thank you to everyone. I think I can get the total a bit higher yet, so do please tell your friends about the Just Giving site: www.justgiving.com/Michael-Baker8
*For my international readers, Boycott was an England cricketer from some years back who scored runs at a notoriously slow - almost miserly - but prolific rate. His radio commentary style is similarly obdurate these days - but a delight all the same.