It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago today, I was delivered the crippling news that I have a Grade 3 brain tumour at Salford Royal Hospital, UK. The news that changed my life forever! My plans for my career, my plans for traveling, but most of all my plans for having a family!
It is an odd feeling today. If feels like only yesterday I called my distraught family and close friends. But in the same thought, it also feels like a lifetime ago given the amount of traveling I have had the opportunity to do! I wouldn’t have come this far without the support of my family and friends, so thank you! Making the 2 year anniversary is a big achievement for me. The doctors said that people in my position have a 3-5 year life expectancy. So this makes today a nervous day but also a small sense of accomplishment.
In the past 2 years, I’ve gone through the tough times, and the good times. A partner (boss) of a firm I was working with told me from his own experience that cancer can be “a confronting, confusing, emotional and often lonely experience…” and offered support in any way. From that email in the early days of my cancer I can say this is all very true.
There is always someone out there to talk to or support you. It’s just a matter of finding to right person to talk to, or to just relax and not talk much, or just to take your mind off a situation and have a laugh. Just as people react to differently to bad news or situations, different people with help you in different ways dependent on what you need. They just need to know you want or need their help! I hope to keep travelling and living to enjoy my life, and to also help others in need if I can.
In my last blog post, Jan 2016 scan, I said my scans were positive and my oncology doctor was happy for me to go snowboarding in Japan… after I had my 5 days of chemo. A few days after chemo, I was on a flight to Tokyo, then a 6 hour bus to Hakuba. Hakuba is on the mainland of Japan, North West of Tokyo. I have been to Japan and Hakuba before so this trip was purely for snowboarding, no sight seeing. I was in Hakuba for 3 weeks, 15 days of lift passes for 9 different mountains/resorts.
In the first week I met up with some friends and we snowboarded, ate and wondered around the beautiful Hakuba and what it had to offer. I hurt my ankle in the first week and had to take 4 days off the slopes. After my friends left to go back to Singapore, I had a few days to myself. I’m realising now that I am much more comfortable with my own company these days than I ever was. Maybe it’s because I have had so much ‘me time’ over the last 2 years since being diagnosed with cancer. Anyway, I heavily strapped my ankle and enjoyed taking it easy on the slopes the remaining 12 days of my lift passes. Even with I strapped ankle I was trying a few silly things every day and seemed to aggravated my ankle every time. Not the smart thing to do but I didn’t want to waste my time on the snow. In my second week I was lucky enough to have a few good roomies in my dorm and I snowboarding with them a few times. We found a few onsen (Japanese hot springs) around Hakuba. They were AMAZING! I ended up going every second day. I found the onsen helped release the stresses of my body and mind. It was a great time to recover and zone out. There is a myth that you can’t go in to an onsen if you have tattoos. I have 6 tattoos, 5 of which are larger than an open hand and I was never refused entry (maybe all the layers of clothing help).
For my third week in Hakuba my girlfriend joined me. It was probably a good thing I injured my ankle as it meant I was happy to go at a slower pace and help her as a beginner/intermediate boarder. Within 3 days she had progressed from green beginner runs to black expert runs. I’d like to say it was my teaching, but no, it was her natural ability to pick it up so quickly!
Over the 3 weeks, my favourite mountains/resorts to snowboard were Happo-One (across the road from my accommodation), Habuka47, and Iwatake (the most impressive and beautiful location). Before I knew it my 3 weeks in Japan was over and I was heading back to Australia with my girlfriends company to entertain each other.
Within days of getting back to Australia we were driving to Coffs Harbour for a friends wedding. A wedding integrating both Australian and Bhutanese cultures for a diverse and breath-taking wedding. If and when I ever get married, I would love to have a wedding as amazing, relaxing, joyful and loving as theirs! 2 days later I was back home in Sydney taking my next cycle of chemo, the 10th cycle.
I am very grateful of being in a position where I can enjoy my life mentally and physically between chemo cycles. Many other chemo drugs and dosages do not allow such an active lifestyle as the one that I am currently living and loving! Although I have a malignant brain tumour and only given a few years to live, I love my life and what I am able to achieve. I always think of Abraham Lincolns quote: