Wednesday, 14 October 2009

An Attitude To Life

As I mentioned a few days ago I have received Good News about my cancer. I don't fool myself that it's gone. I've been here before and cancer never actually goes completely. But it looks as though I'll be blogging for a year or two yet. If I don't do something silly like get hit by a bus or fall out of a plane at 30,000 feet or .... well, you get the picture.

So how do I feel? I feel strange, is the answer.  I had come to terms some years ago with the cancer and its seemingly relentless decision to inhabit my body.  The fact that I've never ever been able to feel it nor been affected by it (apart, of course, when I had the operation and the radiotherapy) has made the fact of its existence rather unreal.  But mentally I had completely come to terms with it and, having seen Andy die such a horrible death, had taken the decision not to go for quantity over quality of life.  I had come to terms with the likelyhood of death coming rather earlier than the family norm of the nineties.  I accepted it as a probablilty.  After all I'd been told that the implants had limited efficacy and when it returned more vigorously last year I'd been told that radiotherapy wasn't an option.  But things change.  And nowhere more rapidly than in the field of cancer treatment.  Five months ago I was told I could have radiotherapy but that it only had a 20% chance of targetting the right area. And bingo!  They hit the 20% and I got the jackpot.

So, I ask myself again, "How do I feel?".  What is 'strange'?  The answer is that I don't feel the joy and elation that I might have expected.  I feel pretty much as I did before I had the news.  However there is a big BUT in all this.  And that is how did I really feel before I got the latest good news?  What effect has the knowledge of a life-threatening disease really had?

As I said in the last posting it has been an incredibly positive experience.  It still is an incredibly positive experience.  I have learned more though this than ever I could have hope to learn through any other experience. I shall not go into too much detail 'cos that would be boring but I can say that I am sure that my outlook on life has altered for the better.

When I first went to New Zealand it was for a long holiday.  The cancer was becomming troublesome again.  I decided that I was going to do everything and anything that I wanted to do.  Carpe diem was my motto.  I was determined to seize the day.  I decided that I might, realistically, not have another such wonderful opportunity to do the things I had never tried before for a myriad of reasons.  I paraglided off a hilltop and soared above the birds. I white-water rafted over the highest commercially run drop in the Southern hemisphere. I helehiked up a glacier.  I did lots of things.  For the record I did not bungee jump and have no intention of so doing!

And I've lived my life like that ever since. 

That's just one aspect of how I feel and how I've been affected.  It was a very positive experience.

I've learned not to sweat the small stuff.  And it's almost all small stuff!

Oh.  I could go on.  I've learned so much.  But I will confine myself to one more thing.  Possibly the most important thing I've learned:  to play The Glad Game.  The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when the fictional character Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we don't need 'em!".  Sometimes it's a bit hard but I've yet to find a situation where I've not been able to play the game  for myself.  Having said that it's sometimes very hard to play it for others; very hard.

There is one more feeling and that is Guilt.  I'll blog about it separately. 


  1. Graham, I managed to miss this post last week, in spite of putting this blog on my list! How did that happen... I thought I was keeping an eye on you, but... ;)

    So you can cross one of my questions off the list. I have read Pollyanna, but it was a long time ago. I'm familiar with the game, though. And I agree: It's easier to play it for yourself than for others.

  2. Hmmmm. I didn't know about this blog, Geeb. But am glad I do now. You're a bit of an onion, aren't you??? xx

  3. I was logged into the geeb address by mistake - I just use it for personal emails to friends - when I made the comment on your new blog.

    An onion am I? Does this mean I have many layers or that when you cut me I make you cry?

  4. I've a little award for you! Details are on my blog.


  5. Hi GB, I am a late follower of blogs but am enjoying it very much when I can take time to follow. Just read your article and find it inspirational. I am sure anyone would find inspiration from your words whether finding themselves with a serious illness or not. You have always been a positive person but, yes, your positiveness (is that a word) has increased and your willingness to share your life and thoughts truly do inspire. Thank you.

  6. Thank you Jo.

    You made me re-read the posting and I see that I've never posted on Guilt. I must do that some time.

  7. Ah. Gladness. Pollyanna. For many years I have apologised for my 'Pollyanna' attitude to people. As in 'but you must excuse me for saying that, I'm a bit of a Pollyanna'.
    But recently I read in a book that it is a Good Thing. The writer even specifically mentioned Pollyanna.
    And then shortly after that, in the way that things happen, I read an article entitled "Optimists are Happier" (bit of an oxymoron, that). And, the upshot was, I have suddenly accepted ME. And started a 'Glad' book. I write in it each night: things I'm glad about today. It works. I'm happier than ever, AND have finally, after many years, met Someone who is rapidly becoming Significant.

    Sorry. I've posted on your blog. But here, in this relative privacy, I just wanted to say this.

  8. Please never apologise for a comment! I'm delighted to read it.

    Question: did you use Good Thing (capital GT) because of something on my blog (I use it frequently) or because you have read '1066 And All That'?

  9. Well, I read '1066 and All That' when I was 6 or so. So I suppose it comes from there!
    I didn't know you use it.

  10. Fantastic!! I only know two people (my brother CJ/Scriptor Senex) and I who have read it. I treasure my copy - I was probably in my teens when I read it. CJ and I capitalise anything we feel is a Significant Thing as, I see do you.