So it seems fitting that I should post here about a fairly major event that happened at the beginning of the month. Some of this may come across as a bit cheesy, but fuck you, it's my post, I'll be as twee as I damn well like.
Back in June 2006 I was with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, after what seemed like fucking forever as a bizarre medical curiosity while the doctors tried to work out what the hell was wrong with me. For those who weren't around at the time, or who have short memories, the highlights are linked to here.
In early January this year (the 3rd to be precise), I had my final appointment at Cancer club. Usually you get a random Oncologist, so sometimes you see a familiar face, sometimes you get someone you've never met. This time I got the chap who I first met, led in my hospital bed at St James', not long after my lung biopsy. He was the one who first properly explained my diagnosis (no counting the arsehat surgeon/consultant who sniffily informed me that I had a "bit of cancer", but nothing to worry about the previous morning), so it seemed kind of fitting that he should be the last oncologist that I saw before being discharged.
It was quite an emotional moment, really. When I was diagnosed, I was REALLY ill. My chances were given as around 50/50 for still being here five years after treatment. So my oncologist seemed genuinely happy to be able to discharge me after my 5 years of observation/check-ups. He smiled, we chatted about stuff, he shook my hand and I went to the desk to hand in my paperwork. The receptionist asked when I was back, to which I grinned and replied "never, hopefully!". She looked at my paperwork, grinned, and said "Congratulations!". Several nurses and patients also offered me their best wishes. I accepted, blushing, and then had to leg it before I burst into tears.
I managed to phone friends and family to tell them the good news, and got as far as sitting in the car before the enormity of it all hit me, and I broke down in tears for quite a while. Tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of sorrow, I'm still not sure. Probably a bit of all three if I'm honest.
So that's it, all done and dusted. With any luck I'll not have to go back to the Oncologist ever again and I can look forward to a relatively normal life, free from blood tests and hospital visits.
I'm still a bit freaked out by it all actually. Being a medical mystery, being treated for cancer and then the aftermath have consumed a great many years of my life. I know I always put on a happy face about it all, but honestly, back in 2006 when I was led in hospital just after the operation, throwing up from the Morphine, I genuinely thought it was game over for me. So for me still to be around over 5 years later is just amazing.
Being ill taught me a lot of things that I still carry round with me to this day. From not taking the important things in life for granted, to the importance of a healthy work/life balance, I wouldn't be the person that I am today without having gone through the events of the last 6 and a bit years. I discovered that I have some of the best friends that anyone could hope for, something for which I am still profoundly grateful. I also rediscovered my love of travelling, and pushed myself to do a lot of stuff that I'd probably otherwise have never got round to doing.
Since being ill, I've travelled back to Japan (twice), been to the biggest gaming convention in the world (several times), learnt to snowboard (and got relatively decent at it, although you wouldn't believe it if you saw me on my first trip), travelled halfway round the world to see bands I'd otherwise never get to see live, been nominated for MVP on an open source project, run several 10Km events and visited loads of places all over the world.
So kids, remember, there's more to life than just working yourself to death for money. Your friends are more important than you realise. But most importantly, don't forget to LIVE. Always wanted to learn to climb, but always put it off until "tomorrow"? Don't. Go out there, book yourself into a course and give it a go. Hell come and speak to me and I'll take you climbing. Do it now, or one day you may wake up and realise that you've run out of tomorrows and the chance to do that thing is gone, maybe forever. Write that song you always wanted to, paint a painting, tell someone how much you care about them. You'll be surprised how much better you feel for doing it.
Thank you, to all my wonderful friends and family. You were there for me when I was at my lowest, and I owe each and every one of you a debt that I can in all likelihood never repay. I hope that one day I will be able to help you guys as much as you all helped me.
And finally, so long cancer! We had an interesting time together you and I, with many ups and downs, but ultimately its time for us to part our ways now. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Oh, and if I EVER catch you sniffing round my friends, I will hunt you down and kick you in the balls repeatedly.......