The dragon’s back.
It stirred for a while. We seemed to have an understanding. But something woke it.
‘Something’…what pain and suffering we could relieve from the world if all the money, committed and scientific zeal would finally reveal what ‘something’ actually is.
And so the bar fight resumes. Tis’ my lot. I have learnt to bare the adventure. Although it is a curious and altogether different experience this time around. I wasn’t prepared last time. But am I better prepared this time? Let’s see.
I’ll be using Medium as a platform to share the journey. Deepest thoughts. Ideas. Suggestions for other bar-fighters. And maybe the occasional cry for help. Indulge me. It’s part of my playbook.
“Writing breeds clarity. Clarity begets calm. Calm is foundational to wellness”.
A Short History
Said Dragon is how I have chosen to cast my life’s most pernicious antagonist, Multiple Myeloma. Cancer’s village idiot. Bone marrow based, with a firework display of complications if allowed to go unchecked. Incurable thus far. Although entirely ‘smote-able’ with the right balance of unimaginably strong drugs and unimaginably strong positivity.
It swooped in during the lazy summer of 2013. Completely undetected. Embarking on a slow yet brutal incineration of a sun-drenched life we’d worked hard create.
We lost everything (material)
We gained everything (that matters)
We held on
Launched everything mad and magical that modern madness could muster
We smoked dat’ fool!
Ran for cover (tack, Svierge)
Have been rebuilding ever since
Alas, it stirred. And then something woke it.
It was made very clear to me by one or two particularly emotionally unintelligent doctors that I would always be dealing with the When, not the If of the Dragon’s rematch. Despite hoping deeply to the contrary, prophecy became reality as I slouched out of UCLH’s wonderful McMillan Cancer Centre on the afternoon of April 13th, clutching my brown takeaway bag full of unimaginably strong drugs.
Over 3 years of remission came crashing to an end, and with a flick of a pharmacists pen, I found myself back on sadly familiar territory.
The good news, because there is always good news if you look hard enough, is that this time around we felt the fight brewing early.
5 years ago, the dragon stole a significant advantage. By the time I was able to put up any sort of a fight, I was supine in hospital, unable to walk (the dragon turns bones into chalk) and emotionally flat spinning out across the Gulf Of Arabia.
5 years on;
MRI’s revealed no bone damage
Bone marrow biopsy (yes, it’s as bad at it sounds) revealed progression but not rampant
Blood counts and immune system stable
“In the kingdom of the chronically unwell, one finds gratitude for even the smallest, most ridiculous of mercies“.
And patient (or is that contender?) wiser, emotionally stronger and ready.
The less positive news, however, is that of my professional situation and the commitments I have to balance and continue honouring. These weren’t necessary the first time around. Back then, various stars aligned (along with a 100% chip cash-in) that enabled me to put everything not related to bar-fighting, self-healing and my family, on complete hold.
Not a practical possibility in these time of Dragon 2.0. Bills need to be paid. Past mistakes need fixing. Growth needs nurturing.
Familiar Territory. New Terms
One month into treatment and so far so good. Way too early to tell, but confidence is high.
This is familiar territory after all. Lest the dragon forget. As we boxed it out the first time around I was blessed with the wherewithal to take game notes, and develop my playbook (aforementioned book, part 2) in the event that we should have to go again.
Needless to say; we are. And I’m ready.
…while the territory may be familiar, the terms of this new fisty-cuff are very different. Terms represented almost entirely by those professional commitments, and everything that goes with them: focus, planning, deadlines, admin, travel, thinking critically, thinking creativity, selling, writing etc.
In peace times, on this stuff I thrive. During times of battle and chemotherapy, they’re already starting to pose some difficult questions.
Fatigue, pain, nausea, the occasional bout of depression and those moments of profound vulnerability. None of these are welcome teammates to someone still trying to (re) build a life around a freelance consulting business.
But I’ll write more on this later.
I’m about to end the first of an ongoing (and indefinite) series of 3-week-on-1-week-off cycles of treatment. I needed this cycle to benchmark. Settle back into regime and routine, and adjust my retreat to The Other Room so as to be less isolating (than last time). In fighting terms, get my jab in and the measure of what I’m up against.
Tomorrow (14.5.18) is Day One. I’ve got a lot to say, and a lot to share. And I’d be super grateful for any support or advice you might lend me along the way.
Until then, and in the words of the almighty Apollo Creed “Ding. Ding”