On Thursday, 10th of March 2016, I returned home from a hospital appointment and broke the news to my wife and children. I had throat cancer. Stage four. Inoperable.
Desperately needing some way to make sense of my situation, I set up a blog to chart my battle against the disease. I hoped it would allow me to understand more about this thing inside me, and what I would have to go through in terms of treatment to try to eradicate it.
I also hoped it might help other people who found themselves in similar circumstances.
I made a promise to my readers to be open and honest all the way. I wouldn’t hold anything back, no matter how unpleasant.
Now, over a year later, I have adapted that blog into a book. It details my journey from when I first realised that something was wrong, through the intense courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to where I am today.
To say that journey was difficult is a vast understatement.
The side effects of my treatment utterly kicked my arse, causing me to lose over half my bodyweight and fall seriously ill with double pneumonia and sepsis. Totally unresponsive, I was rushed into intensive care where doctors told my family that, if they couldn’t stabilise me, I had around two hours left to live.
Imagine someone telling you that about your loved one as they lie there, unconscious and struggling to breathe.
Cancer is an invader that affects more than just the patient. Everyone suffers – spouses, siblings, children, extended family, friends. Even, as I was to discover, strangers from all over the world. I was overwhelmed with the love and kindness of almost everyone who contacted me, but I also suffered terrible abuse at the hands of online trolls.
I should warn you that parts of the book do not make for easy reading. I kept my promise to be honest, and wrote many of the blog entries when I was depressed and scared, certain I wouldn’t live to see another dawn. I convinced myself that I would quickly perish, leaving my wife and two sons – then aged 9 and 17 – alone, and with no-one to protect them or provide for them.
I wouldn’t get to see them grow up, develop into young men, and eventually have children of their own. The prospect terrified me.
For those of you who followed my blog and read the posts as I uploaded them, you haven’t seen everything. The book contains plenty of new content, including updates from when I was either in hospital or simply too ill to write. I also explain how I’m coping now, and the ways in which my life has changed forever.
Cancer is pure, unadulterated evil. I lost both my parents to it (my dad less than a year before my story begins). And now the bastard had come for me. I was in for one hell of a fight.
This blog continues from where the book ends, in July 2017.