Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Looking Back and Beyond

I’m now three years clear of cancer and two years on from my last big operation. This has given me the freedom to have a full year of activity, the first uninterrupted one in the past five years. I’ve kept up my promise, made in hospital, to do something active every day. I’ve also been on two overseas trips (to La Gomera and Mallorca) for the first time in a decade. It’s done me a lot of good. Over the course of the year I’ve definitely regained strength, fitness and self-confidence.

I’ve been cycling throughout the year and my computer shows that I’ve done 5240 miles in total. That’s the equivalent of cycling from here to Delhi. I’ve also been walking most days and have done 1236 miles over the year. That’s the equivalent of walking from here to Barcelona. I’m delighted to have been able to achieve this.

Having two fully-working lungs again, I’m using them as best I can. In August my lungs were thoroughly tested for the first time since the surgery two years ago and were found to be functioning at 123% of the average for my age, weight and height. I’ve since bought a heart-rate monitor, so that I can try some harder rides and measure how I get on. My maximum is 152 bpm, but I’ve rarely been above 130 so far.  

After years of cancer recurrences and major surgery, I have gained the freedom to be active and I use it every day. Recently, the NHS has been experimenting with giving patients, who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, the prescription of an exercise programme. The logic is that a fitter and healthier patient will be better able to withstand the treatment ordeal (surgery, chemo, etc) that they are going to receive. I’ve since been told by several senior medics that my health and fitness helped me to survive my years of cancer treatment.  

My journey through the valley of the shadow of death has indeed changed me. My realisations about what was important in life began during the sleepless night I spent on a trolley in A&E in 2011 and have continued since. I’ve ended up with a practical guide that helps me to live whilst facing my own mortality. In short, it goes like this.

Live as well as you can every day. Say what you think and mean what you say. Don’t suffer fools or false friends. Don’t put off things unnecessarily and don’t waste time and energy on maybes. If something matters, get involved and do it as well as you can. If not, just let it go. You have no idea when your life will become curtailed. Everything can change in a moment.

Looking forward, let’s remember our good friends who have departed this life and let’s live our lives fully and well.

A Happy New Year to one and all.


  1. Surviving cancer is a reality check that keeps on giving. I hope this coming decade will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Happy new year.

  2. Thank You Lisa. Very true. I find it hard to recognise my life pre-cancer. Despite the losses and fears, I have gained much and found the partner I was always looking for. Wishing you and yours a Happy New year.