Bill, aged 50
“After my initial keyhole bowel surgery seven years ago I was feeling very optimistic, but when diagnosed with rapidly spreading secondary liver cancer and the prognosis from my oncologist I was in a state of shock. The medical team explained they were offering the best course of treatment available and this did provide some reassurance. I was put on a course of oxaliplatin and capecitabine, which I found to be physically and mentally taxing. I tried various ways of coping with this treatment, eating simple foods to try and combat the nausea. I also tried acupuncture and yoga classes, which did help me cope to a point. Having friends I could reach out to – and rant off to every once in a while – also provided a cathartic release.
Before my operation I tried to get as fit as possible, setting myself daily physical targets (long walks and cycling), to help distract me from the impending surgery. After my operation, I found it took at least a month to get back to a level of reasonable activity. But even when I was incapacitated I still tried to set myself mental challenges (reading/small tasks on my computer) and simple physical goals.
18 months later, some lesions were found on my lungs and I had surgery to remove these. For some reason I was more annoyed than stressed about these lesions. The recovery was a lot quicker from this surgery – a few weeks for the lung to fully reinflate and then I was back to walking 3 or 4 miles a day. Initially I had six monthly scans, but this is now annual and should move to biennial, I try to eat healthily, minimum processed foods, avoid sugar and zero dairy/ alcohol. This is probably one of the most stressful and daunting experiences I have ever lived through, but I’ve found it has made me mentally stronger, giving me a new perspective on life. If your medical team are offering you this course of treatment I would say hang in there; it’s tough but they are providing you with the highest probability for survival.”