Back on track
04 Jul 2012
(Photo: Yes these rough planks of English oak will become a garden bench....eventually)
It's been a tough month but I think I'm beginning to get back on track. From talking to other cancer patients, I realise these ups and downs are to be expected and you just have to hold your nerve and not assume that the feeling of weakness or illness is because the underlying cancer has got worse. It can just be something else, as indeed it turned out to be.
It began with the previously mentioned Duke of Edinburgh experience when I got an infection after getting a chill at our village Jubilee event. This got worse and after starting on one course of antibiotics I had to go onto another, stronger, one. It's now cleared up but it has left me very weak and breathless. It has also - frustratingly - been a disaster for the key preparation period for my cancer charity bike ride, which is now only just over two weeks off.
I've also become very conscious of my weight loss. Despite relaxing my anti-cancer diet a little, I still cannot get above 9 stone (126lbs). But I don't want to go onto the high-glucose sugars and carbohydrates that the cancer cells love so much. I've found myself having to walk very slowly, needing to sit down often, and generally just being without energy. And I'm normally someone who doesn't like to do anything slowly.
Anyway, as I say, things are beginning to pick up again. Last weekend I hauled myself back on the bike for the first time for about three weeks. My friend Jonathan and I had a great ride along the Grand Union canal from Brentford - past the amazing Hanwell Flight of 19th century lock-gates and the Victorian asylum buildings - and then back along the Paddington Link. It was only about 17 miles, all pretty flat, but I was absolutely exhausted at the end of it. So there's a long way to go before I can take on the big Welsh bike ride. However, I still intend to do it -- or at least as much of it as I can. And any mileage I don't complete in the last week of July I will make up for later in the summer. So, if you'd still like to join the many other very generous sponsors, please visit my Just Giving site. So far I've raised over £3,000 for the cancer charity Yes To Life and would really like to make it a bit more.
And - in another step back to normality - I have managed this week to do a bit of work and also to attend a really stimulating trustees' meeting at the National Education Trust. Today I was chairing the Question Time panel at the Higher Education Academy's annual conference in Manchester (video available shortly from Policy Review TV). It was a good session with lively discussion about whether the new student fees system would turn undergraduates into consumers rather than partners in their education.
Before this a really valuable stage in my recovery was a three day stay at the wonderful Seren Retreat in the beautiful Gower peninsular of South Wales. Rex and Alaea run a fabulously restorative oasis set in 20+ acres of ancient woodland, with yoga, polarity treatment, and an Ayurverdic appproach to health. The food was fabulous and they kindly made it fit with my largely-raw food diet. I did little but sleep, eat, walk, do yoga and receive treatments and emerged feeling on the track to recovery. It was great for Chrissy too who has taken on a lot of the burden of looking after me this past month.
There's lots more to tell - and I haven't forgotten my promise to write a review of David Servan-Schreiber's marvelous book 'Anticancer' - but it'll have to wait for another time. I need my rest.
Oh, just one other thing...I've started my next furniture-making project: a large, very solid oak garden bench. Very exciting. More in due course.