So I was now back at home and having to face up to the nightmare I found myself in.
I felt in limbo, I had no date for my MRI or surgery.
I felt as though I was caught in between no-mans land in a battle of survival.
My big fear was….. “what if the Prof had got it wrong and it was a stage 3 or worst case a 4.”
As he said, he was only guessing and would need an MRI to confirm his initial thoughts. Even then, until a piece of the tumour was sat under a microscope at histology , you can never quite tell.
In the early days I battled hard with my emotions.
I found I had to go into a deep, dark , morbid state of mind , imagine death, to suddenly snap out of it and start fighting back.
The first initial 2 weeks from diagnosis were the darkest and hardest .
The out pour of support via texts, social media, visits from family and friends made it hard for me to stay down.
I would often when low, during moments where I thought I was at rock bottom, read back all the messages and kind words of support. They really did lift my spirits.
For all of you involved in that stage … Thank you .
In those 2 weeks I even tried going back to work, stupid I know. But that’s what I did. I lasted 3 hrs before a severe migraine kicked in, my brain felt as though it was shutting down. I felt sick . My concentration was shot and any sort of stress made me melt down. Time to start putting myself and health first.
Right what do we tell the kids?
They obviously new something had happened. We decided to be open with both of them and told them everything. We left out words such as cancer and brain tumour , replacing them with lump in head and dads poorly.
Josh is very switched on and listens to every word being said, even when you think he is doing something else.
Sam also had to explain , that I was on tablets ( steroids) that may make me shout more than usual and I could get very irritable. Unfortunately this happened a few times. I had no control over it , but instantly new I had snapped once it was over.
A time that sticks heavy in my heart, was when we were having a stroll along New Brighton front. I asked josh not to do something and he carried on, I repeated it and he answered me back , being cheeky as 9 year old boys do.
I instantly snapped, grabbed hold of his jacket , shouting at him “DONT EVER SPEAK BACK TO ME AGAIN” I can stil picture the fear in his eyes as he burst into tears. I suddenly realised what I had done as he ran off . Sam looked at me in disgust and said “THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THAT”.
I explained this wasn’t me , I didn’t want to be like this and feel that way. I had no control over my temper. It brought a lump to my throat. Steroids were a necessary evil. Not only did it alter my moods , it also gave my a massive appetite I just couldn’t stop eating. I hated being on steroids it effected who I was how I ate, and I couldn’t even go the gym…..what’s that about. I took milk thistle supplements to protect my liver and kidneys.
Anyway, I caught up with josh, apologised and explained that it wasn’t me and to bear with me during this part of the treatment. O and next time just do as you’re told.
I am no longer on steroids, but even know, Halle while being told off for being naughty will say, “DONT WORRY DAD, I KNOW ITS JUST YOUR TABLETS” ha ha NO Halle you’re just being a pain.
The kids & Sam also took to writing me letters when I was in a grump, to try and cheer me up(see pics below)
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I didn’t like to be left alone with my thoughts and liked to be busy. My bed, at times was the worst place to be .
I found falling asleep not to bad, but as soon as I woke , 4am on the dot , I was awake and my mind raced.
The first few nights I battled to try fall back asleep and failed.
I began to hate the thought of bedtime, but new I needed that rest for my brain to heal itself, after such a large seizure.
After a few nights of waking up at 4 am, I started just Getting up making a brew and began doing the house up.
I would put my headphones on listen to music whilst decorating the house.
Sam would come down in the morning, doors would be off the hinges while I glossed them. Walls would be wall papered and painted. Then I would have the odd nap in the day. I just started having to listen to my body.
In those 6 weeks I transformed the house.
It was a form of therapy, a way of focusing my energy and keeping my mind off the situation at hand.
I have been a fighter all my life and fought back against the odds before.
10 yrs earlier after the bike crash I mentioned, I was being told I wouldn’t walk again and to “just get on with my life, try and adapt Dave” . My options, I was actually given, were to either, 1-have my leg amputated below the knee or 2-get a rod placed through my leg to lock it out ???
After the initial brief down period, This only spurred me to prove the doctors , surgeons & physio’s wrong.
who are you to tell me to lie down and give up. Roll on 5 years later.
I had won a British kickboxing title , been selected to fight for team GB at the world championships in Italy. where after 5 days of competing against fighters from all over the world. I won gold in the final against an Italian on his home soil and added the world title to my collection.
I had snowboarded all over the alps, played rugby for the force , managed and played for an 11 aside Sunday team (Shaftesbury FC) , ran a half marathon hell runner course, sky dived from 15,000ft…….
Sorry thought I wouldn’t walk again?? Just try and adapt hey……..
So my mind set had turned similar to after my bike crash. It had gone from the initial ,misery and woe is me . I said to myself you have 2 options,
I could either sit at home , hide away from everyone and the world. Feel sorry for myself. Waste what life I did have left or, live for the day, See my friends , family , stop worrying about something I couldn’t prevent, I had no control over of it.
If anything, worrying and getting stressed would make it worse.
I needed to treat this situation as 1 of my fights .
I had to get myself in the best shape possible, both physically and nutritionally.
Ready to go toe to toe with cancer, this tumour.
I decided to name the tumour Terry. Well my opponent needs to have a name?
Now here came the hard part , I had been ordered not to exercise and to just go for a gentle stroll. I found the only way to come to terms with what’s going on, was to get out on my own,where I can face reality .
Sam was off work and watched me like a hawk.
At night I would often wake up to her just staring at me, watching.
Every time I moved, she would jump up thinking I was having another seizure .
It got to the stage, I wouldn’t even open I my eyes when I could feel her gaze, I would just mutter ” YES I AM STILL ALIVE”
But I understood why she was like that. Sam had to witness her husband that night have long violent seizure , not knowing what was happening and waiting for over 10 minutes for the paramedics to arrive.
She said it one of the worst experiences of her life. I can only imagine the fear she must of gone through.
So I decided one morning I needed to escape be on my own, I needed to face what lay ahead.
I put my training gear on at 5 am , took my steroid user details card, with all my details on it, just in case and went for a gentle 5k jog . Just me and the road.
My thoughts and battle in my head , went pretty much like this …The first mile “O CRAP THIS IS HAPPENING,WHY ME, I AINT GOING TO SURVIVE THIS AM I” as tears rolled down my cheeks. I got the odd funny look off the one or two dog walkers.
The second mile was “WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT , SORT YOURSELF OUT , START FOCUSING ON THE FIGHT, WHATS WRONG WITH YOU, BLAME THE MEDS, MAN UP”
The final part would be “YEAH!!!! COME ON THEN ,LETS HAVE THIS, LETS DANCE YOU AND I. I AM NOT GOING TO BE BEATEN BY ANYONE, LET ALONE TERRY”
By end the end of the run I was back positive ready to face the day, back to being the strong positive dad, husband , son, brother,friend I usually was.
What I wasn’t ready for was the wrath of Sam.
I got changed jumped in the shower and in came Sam. “MORNING, WHY ARE YOU IN THE SHOWER AT 6am” “O IVE BEEN FOR A RUN” replying thinking nothing of it ……. BOOOOOM. “ARE YOU STUPID ” she then proceeded to point out in very fine detail, why going for a run at 5 am, in the dark, down country roads, with no one around , not telling anyone and the risk of seizures having been told not to do exercise , was crazy stupid and dangerous. (4 hours later…lol) I explained why I did it and how it helped clear my head. I felt I could let down my guard, this face I put on to be strong in front of everyone.
She understood why I did it, but I could tell she wasn’t happy.
I must of done that run 6 or 7 times again and every time I got the same lecture and stern look. I did tell josh that I was going out , as I snook passed his room.
When diagnosed I started looking at what I ate. I suddenly became very aware of what I was putting in and on my body.
I ate clean , but I ate a lot of meat and mostly chicken . sometimes 3 times a day. I had to keep my protein up, 50grams every 4 hrs and 70grams of carbs. I ate fruit and veg, but looking back not enough.
I thought I ate clean, but compared to know I wasn’t even close. I didn’t eat meat 1 day , and I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had not had some sort of meat in a 24hrs period. I started fazing it out and would only eat meat that was fresh , grass fed and organic.
I would only eat organic veg and researched the benefits of food diets on cancer .
Que my good friend Vicky, on hearing my diagnosis she was texting and calling round all the time.
Vicky runs a juice and health business called raw-some.
When I first got released from hospital , she was straight round to my house with 3 -4 days worth of juices, soups, curries for me and Sam.
She Started messaging me with what to eat what not to eat . She also got me hooked on juicing , took me to by my first juicer and is still currently dragging me to yoga at every opportunity.
When you are faced with a death sentence and the struggle of coping for your family and kids sake. You really find out who your friends are.
My support network was vast. From messages from my outer circle, of friends offering lifts to pick the kids up , take me shopping , to my most trusted family and friends who without, I would of crumbled. Nick, Jamo,cliffy were constantly on the phone and round mine keeping me focused.
One day Sam said , “mat and Gary ( oldest friends ) have arranged a surprise for you I am taking you there now.”
We got in the car, drove through Liverpool and arrived at Anfield.
They had paid for a tour of the ground , then any meal at the boot room restaurant, which was attached to the ground.
Whilst eating our lunch, the manager came over with a bag. Inside contained the new home shirt, with just the number 8 on the back. This was a reference to the saying I always used, 7 times down 8 times up. These are the type of amazing friends, I am lucky to have. I could go on and on about my great family & mates being taken out , gifts in the post ,collections , visits but I would be here all night .
On the flip side, I had people I thought were friends , who found it to hard to speak or text. Saw me as an awkward inconvenience and distanced themselves from me as much as possible . It was to hard to speak to me…
But I am better off without them.
2 weeks after my meeting with the prof, I still had not had my date for my MRI and this had started to really stress me out. This in turn made me ill . One day Sam got on the phone and rang several times walton , eventually getting through to the Proff’s secretary. The secretary said , the profs held the MDT (a meeting between surgeons, oncology, radiologists physios ,where they discuss your case and treatment) and my surgery was penciled in for 9th June , my MRI would be the week before.
With that I felt some relief , a weight lifted, we had a plan , something was finally happening.
I wished the days away, moving from one day to the next, wanting to get to my surgery as soon as possible.
I tried to look for the positives all the time , spending so much time with my kids, Sam and family. Being off for the World Cup and the England tour of newzealand. Having time to go fishing with Ian and lunch with the wilds. We spoilt the kids when ever possible , went to watch the lion king . My boss arranged for us to go to the Lake District , to escape and try to relax. The kids loved it.
Suddenly it was the night before surgery, time to try sleep……. Ha ha who was I trying to kid.