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The Lighthouse Keepers Tale

The Lighthouse Keeprs Tale
The Lighthouse Keeprs Tale

How I coped with being diagnosed and survived the ordeal.

I was out for a walk the other morning and I started thinking of the journey that I am presently on and two songs came to mind: "So Said the Lighthouse Keeper"; and "Hope ". These songs and a few books have helped me prepare for this journey, but actually being on this path is one I would rather not follow. But life is thus and so what do I have to say that has not already been said. Well for one, I haven't told the story, so here is where we begin.
I was suffering from a stomach pain, which I had attributed to pulling a muscle while kickboxing, but it just would not go away. There was also a time during that period that I suffered a case of diarrhea which I thought was just a reaction to something I ate or too much stress from work. So fortunately my annual check-up (which I have been doing with our family doctor for over 20 years) was coming up and I would bring this up at that time. Usually I go to these and have nothing to complain about so this should be interesting. Well the blood work came back and my hemoglobin was way down 86 or there about, which is a little low since it should be around the 134-175 level. This would explain the lack of energy, but she decided that we would to a colonoscopy to ensure that everything was functioning properly.

After having tubes inserted from both ends (fortunately on the same day!) the specialist announced that there was something in the wall of the colon that looked like it might be cancer. He immediately set me up with the Cancer centre and after a full scan, ultrasound etc. the cancer surgeon informed me that, yes, I did have a cancerous tumour, but it should be taken care of with surgery. So they scheduled surgery and sat us down to explain everything.

So started the journey down this path of Cancer, where you are barraged with information that starts once you get that first diagnosis and fear strikes then eats its way into your life. It is at this meeting that you are briefed on the treatment, yet all the options have one side effect due to complications DEATH. Boy now that's a killer isn't it! But to be fair to the doctors, they have to legally warn you of all the good and bad things that could possibly happen. After having such a discussion they ask if there are any questions, to which my mind was racing and said none came to mind. As you leave the doctors office it's a bit too much to take and you think "I'm lost and adrift in a universe of debris and destruction." So that is where the first song comes in "So Said the Lighthouse Keeper";

"So said the lighthouse keeper as he struggled up the spiral stairs.
Which led him to the laser flare which scanned the cosmic void.
There keeping constant vigil.
He'd forewarn this gallant guard of guards.
Beware all ships the space graveyard and its stones of asteroids."

Yes, with all the information I was adrift within the Cancer void. Too much bombarding at once was causing one to spiral further into the void. All the advice, the literature and comments, trying to be helpful, but at that point in the journey it's not. It just adds to the confusion. So I decided as I floated in this void that I would take a path of my choosing, and so in the next few paragraphs here is what I have found to make the journey less troublesome, but not necessarily less painful. I filtered what I need to know from what everyone thinks I should know. I trust the words from the Doctors and Nurses whose care I am under. I researched what I need to know from trusted sites, not 'the friend of a friend' who saw such and such on a site.

Next was where the wonders of the universe revealed themselves to me. I found a light, shining in the dark cancer void, an anchor to help guide me through the maze of information; yes, I found my lighthouse, she is my wife. There is no brighter flame in the universe. It burns bright and undiminished by the fog and clouds. Her love kindles it to ensure I never loose sight and will always find my way home. Beside that lighthouse are four other large candles (my mother, my sister Christine, my son Nicholas and daughter Samantha who are always there with warm hugs and smiles). Then to my astonishment there were more candles appearing in the darkness reaching out from the lighthouse illuminating a path for me to follow safety back to the lighthouse. These candles were my closest friends Jamie, John, Jayne, Robin, Elsa, and Gord, each a flame in the darkness there to light my path. Each one concerned, caring and always there wanting to lend a hand. Beyond that there are my other friends and co-workers who in their own way add to support me with thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement, and I also need to share my gratitude to them for sharing my journey.

It is said that money makes the world go round, for some it might be, but for me it is my friends. Somewhere I read that if you have one true friend you are rich. This friend is someone who would walk to hell with you and back again never questioning or faltering along the way. In the army it is that one person who always has your back and would take the bullet for you, as you would for them. If that is the case then I am a billionaire, I have six, and four of which would take a bullet for me, as I would for them. There is no other way to express that kind of friendship; it is giving and there when needed regardless of location or distance. So their lies my first victory in this war; my body is engaged in HELP from my friends, my support group.

So now I have my armour, my course, and a compass to keep me true to the course. But that is not all that is needed, for as the surgery and treatments start to batter me there is a need to surround myself with LOVE. Love of myself; it is my body that I am fighting for. The war is waged in my body, and so I have to love it in order to help it succeed. This means change, a change of diet, change or routine, change of habits in order to provide the body the help it needs to win. For me it was getting back on the saddle and exercising. Due to the surgery, my two favourite exercises were out for at least six months; in-line skating and kickboxing. So I started walking again. I try to do 10 km each day and a long walk (15-30km) on the weekend. It doesn't always work out, but I try to keep a routine. It is a good way to clear the cobwebs out after a Chemo session and allows me time to think and clear my mind. These walks are good for the body, good for the soul and allow me to see the wonders in the world each day. Love of the body and soul is vital on this journey.

Diet is a hard one to change, but change it we must in order to give the body the strength and tools to fight its war. I am slowly in somewhat small steps doing this. It's difficult as old habits die really hard, but we are changing the food we eat, the drinks we drink. There are many sites that talk about it and what you should have and not have, and again you have to be careful as there is much conflicting information which bear the same sort of material. Two of the big changes are the vegetables and fruit that we eat. Trying to make sure we eat the right alkaline based produce is a challenge, as most of it I don't like, neither do the children. But we are striving to make the changes so that the right fuel is there for the body to work better.

Added to this I used organic multivitamins and an extra does of Vitamin C and Iron each day. This was to boost the system and provide it the nutrients the diet wasn't providing. Also, I found it really beneficial to work with my chiropractor; he worked with me to ensure that my nervous and immune systems were pumped before each Chemo session. There would be one session before the chemo and then one once the pump was removed. These adjustments provided an added bonus to help the body deal with the added stress of the chemo drugs. I did notice that if I didn't have the adjustment before the chemo session it took longer for my body to overcome the effects and side affects.

The love I have for life, family, friends and work are things that shine bright in the darkness of Cancer and I will not allow it to extinguish those flames. My wife and children stand strong in their love beside me and are, as I have said my beacon in the lighthouse.

There is a book called the "Celestine Prophesy" that I have read numerous times. In this fictional story where the author talks of natural positive energy and if I got anything out of this book it was that there is energy around you and in you. It can be given or stolen by different types of people, but most importantly one can see it and build it from within myself. This POSITIVE energy leads to positive thinking and that is what I need to have to fight this battle.

One of the things that I found in the book that helps me through stressful times is this; to gain energy you have to find a special place and imagine it in every detail. Enough details so that I can smell it, feel it and remember every little nook and cranny as if I was there. By doing this I can recharge my battery and again be able to fight the negative within the world. For me it is the amphitheatre on Cascade Mountain in Banff, I have hiked up there twice, sat and watched the world go by as I soaked in the beauty of the valley, the trees, the waterfall, stream and snow in the middle of July. The more I think about it the more it comes alive and then with just 5 minutes I can feel the energy flowing back into my body and I am ready to move forward, charged and ready to give.

That energy is a positive charge that the body needs to know that it is loved and that it can do what it must to win this battle against the cancer that lurks within. So I must find a method to continually recharge the positive attitude and outlook. There too my friends and support team help me as they can see the change and feel the negative slipping in. They too are charged with positive thoughts and energy which they are giving freely so that I can take it and build my defences up against the Cancer. This battle is not a short one there are many skirmishes that will be fought as the treatments go on. So one must constantly make sure that there are positive vibes that the battle will be won.
ENDURANCE is what this war needs, my ability to stay the distance never wavering in the darkness. All that must be brought to bear upon the Cancer. The treatments are part of it; my attitude and support team that has surrounded me and the love of life provide the tools to take me through it. You must be vigilant, if I am tired or have lost my way, the support team (candles) I have formed is there to bring me back and provide the strength so I can move forward. My lighthouse will forever shed light upon the path and let me know that it may be my fight but there is always someone there to support me. And the reason I am enduing this battle within this body is because losing is not an option. It is up to me to endure and the best way is to remain positive, remain energized and be ever watchful for signs of despair and doubt. These negatives will significantly reduce my endurance and thus my ability to win and beat the Cancer demon.

And that brings me to the second song Hope:

"Hope is like a lighthouse keeper's beam.
Hope that master cobbler of our dreams
For hope believes in desert streams
The mightiest of stars... the microcosm in a jar
Vast or small they all revolve on Hope.

So let us fell hope and feel the sunrise in our minds
To give hope is to enlighten all mankind
Ah but lose hope and life stems black as blind
When faith give way to fear
When motivation disappears
All is lost if one abandons Hope."

Its words ring true and with my lighthouse firmly grounding me, the candles forming the chain to bring me home, I cannot have anything but HOPE that guides me to victory. I have beaten this vile disease not just because I believe and hope, but because I have all the elements to fight it. And that is half the battle already won. One thing must be said here, I was extremely lucky in that I did not have a lot of trouble with the chemo sessions as a lot of patients have had, but remember each patient and the cancer is different which again highlights that the battle in your body is yours. I personally attribute this less troubled road through chemo to being healthy when I started this journey and trying to remain so even during the chemo sessions.

I won my battle with Cancer, but it was never fought alone. The doctors, nurses and support team provide the external help, while allowing you focus on the internal battle using exercise, diet and healthy living to maximize the odds to defeat the cancer in you.
Remember HOPE (Help, Love, Positive attitude, Endurance)
Cancer can be beaten, I know because I did it!


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