Cancer, brain injury, and my way of thinking

By Thursday, January 4, 2018 0 No tags Permalink 13

For those who haven’t followed my posts, I was severely brain injured in 2003. I started this blog (in 2010. Podcast in 2015) so that I could write about my brain injury, my thoughts and feelings, and what I have been doing. In June 2017 I was diagnosed with colon cancer. This didn’t come as a total shock, as I knew that I carried a gene that meant I was much more likely than the general population to develop colon cancer at a younger age. While it meant surgery to remove the tumour and, thanks to a perforated bowel, a second surgery soon after, my chemotherapy had to be delayed so that my surgical wounds could heal. That meant that after spending almost all of July in hospital, I didn’t start chemotherapy until mid-October. I have now finished my sixth of an indeterminate number of rounds of chemo, and I’m feeling pretty good! Although to many it may look like 2017 was a bad year for me. I don’t see it that way.

Hear me out (or, in this case, read me out)! I didn’t always think or feel this way. My way of thinking has certainly changed over the years, especially since my brain injury, and since my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’ve written a few posts since June which touch on my way of thinking: life is made up, and shaped by our experiences.

I enjoy life. Not despite of my brain injury or cancer, not because of them either, but by seeing them as experiences. Neither good, nor bad. Good and bad are just subjective labels, often imposed or influenced by society or someone else, not necessarily someone who thinks exactly like you. It’s in this way that I don’t think cancer or brain injury are necessarily bad. They are simply experiences.

I’m not writing this so people will adopt my way of thinking, or so I can claim how my way is so good! I’m not trying to be right. I’m not saying that my way of thinking is the best or the only way. My way of thinking works for me, not for everybody.  As I mentioned earlier, on this site I write about my thoughts and feelings. I’m not an aggressive guy. I’m not inspired by the notion of “fighting” cancer, “attacking” it or “taking it head on” or any other battle analogy  I’m not fighting to regain my life, recover from, or beat cancer. Nor am I ‘living with the disease’. I’m living my life. Taking care of myself. Cancer is not trying to beat me or kill me, it’s just surviving.

To me, all of those fighting or battle analogies require action towards a goal. Attacking, beating back, fighting off, etc. I swim, walk, eat well, and enjoy my life. My attitude is positive. That’s how I want to approach this experience. And that’s all it is – an experience.

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