Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Now's The Time To Say Goodbye

Today is my sixth re-birthday, so it seems like the perfect day to bring the blog to a close.

As you'll see, I haven't done any posts since this time last year, and while I could make excuses, the reality is everyday life has unfortunately taken hold.  That isn't to say that there haven't been events / happenings worth sharing, just I never seemed to find the time, and when I did it didn't seem relevant if you know what I mean.

23 May 2016 is another milestone day to enter into the records (see what I mean about how time runs away) - I got my final clearance from Mr Morrissey and am deemed to be cancer free.  He said he doesn't want to see me again and I hope I never need to.

It was somewhat of an anti-climax to be honest.  I sort of knew that's what he'd say, and even the fact the clinic appointment was so long after when I expected it (Oct 2015) it didn't really matter.  I knew I was doing OK, so there wasn't even any trepidation going in.  No big party, no celebratory cake, just another day above ground.

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm very lucky to still be here, but as time has rolled on in the last six years, I have subconsciously put away the 2010 challenges and got back to normal.  How much of the new normal still exists?  Having forced myself to stop and reminisce, I'd say there is most definitely more of the new one around than the pre-cancer normality.  To me, that is a bloody good thing as it means deep down I'm staying true to myself and the promises I made when I started coming out of the treatment regime.  I'm not even going to try and guess how much I'm the new Russell vs the original one as the most important thing is I'm comfortable being the person I am today.

I've sat down and looked at the last few posts, and compared then with some of the original ones and it is clear that the ongoing issues I'm dealing with today are nowhere near as consuming as the heady days of 2010-2011, but what I find interesting (and repeating myself no doubt) is that each and every one of those issues serves as a reminder of what I've been through and you know what, I'm really glad there are still daily challenges.  In their own way, they provide a humbling effect that stops me being too cocky and help keep me grounded.

Of course, my journey to today wouldn't have been possible without both the dedicated efforts of all the talented and skilled medical personnel, and the endless love and support from family and friends.

Bar a timing issue with my baseline hearing test, there were no glitches in any of the medical treatment.  We're truly lucky to have such a good public health system in this country.  I know it isn't perfect, but in my case I can't praise it enough.

A very special thanks to my two primary caregivers - the two women in my life, my sister Ruth and my darling wife Moira.  

Ruth effectively gave up her life for six months to care for me and still work and keep her own family functioning.  Now she is dealing with her own health issues, that unlike mine, cannot be fixed and will ultimately rob us of this wonderful person.  While they've struggled to get medications and support right, with the introduction of the palliative care team and Te Omanga Hospice, things have stabilised and Ruth has been home now for over two months, which is where she wants to be, and more importantly, she continues to put up a fight.  Me thinks my family are fighters.

Moira has obviously shouldered the burden of support during the challenges of the post-treatment era and the one thing she has confirmed for me is shopping can be therapeutic - in moderation of course, it provided the perfect distraction from my worries and substituted them for how to keep her under control :-).  All joking aside she has been my rock and kept me balanced when things were starting to get me down.

I'll finish with a brief update on the remaining daily issues that make life interesting:
Saliva - not too much of an issue now as have adjusted to it and it's just a fact of life
Sore Throat - manage with the fluconazole and food/drinks that seem to soothe it, but still flares up
Sore Jaw - not something I've shared with you all (apparently another delayed side effect of the radiotherapy), but have finally found some treatment to reduce the pain and starting to get it under control.
Ankle - might finally be an end in sight there as well thanks to a podiatrist and orthotics

So there you go folks, the time has come to say goodbye, and thanks for your interest in my journey.

Take care of yourselves - and remember PMA is your friend.