March 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm
As part of our commitment to cancer care, we developed our interactive pinboard to enable those who have been affected by the disease to share the little things which made a big difference to their recovery.
Author and cancer survivor Chris Geiger also believes that sharing your experiences can provide other cancer sufferers with inspiration and encouragement to help them through treatment. His book, The Cancer Survivors Club, shares uplifting and assuring stories from Chris as well as multiple other survivors.
We asked Chris to share his story and asked what little things made a big difference to him. Here’s what he had to say…
Two years of treatment
I had to endure two years of cancer treatment to destroy a tumour found lurking in my chest; this included a number of operations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant before I was finally in remission.
I remember watching the chemotherapy sitting silently; a bright yellow bag above me, praying it would defeat the bad cells and prove consultants wrong. I imagined my tumour dissolving like snow in hot water, until it just resembled black ugly slush found at the side of the road. This ruthless toxic bag of poison, which nurses handled with the care and respect of an unexploded bomb, was effortlessly and successfully crippling my whole body. It had caused me to lose weight, something I wasn’t that unhappy about. But it had destroyed my taste buds, stripped my body of hair and forced me to learn the skill of vomiting quietly without choking and with pinpoint accuracy too. As if by magic it induced blinding headaches and caused mouth ulcers to randomly appear. Its other mystical powers included total control of my bowels, alternating them like traffic lights, from constipation to embarrassing me with major diarrhoea.
Luckily for me, the night before I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I watched a film about Bob Champion; a jump jockey who fought and won his battle with cancer, and then amazingly went on to win the Grand National. The film was based on the book called Champions Story, which he wrote with his friend Jonathan Powell. This story created an idea to inspire me. Watching his film kept me fighting despite my diagnosis, and ultimately led me to write ‘The Cancer Survivors Club’ book.
A positive distraction
I’m convinced having a target, being positive, and having the distraction of writing every day got me through my treatment. Daily I wrote a diary, creating my own light-hearted memoir, recording my thoughts, feelings and treatment. Talk with any cancer survivor and they’ll agree that chemotherapy also kills your ‘lazy’ gene or ‘sleep’ gene, as well as destroying the tumour. Every cancer survival story I’ve received explains how much more rewarding life is now than before they were diagnosed.
Back in 2009, I was talking with a patient who said it was “inspirational” to meet me; a survivor who’d been given just three months to live and over twenty years later is still enjoying life to the full. “If you can do it, I can” he said enthusiastically. These were the identical thoughts I had when I’d just been diagnosed and watched Bob Champion’s film. I too was looking for hope, inspiration, and proof cancer can be beaten.
So began my personal campaign to create awareness, raise money, and inspire patients and their families. ‘The Cancer Survivors Club’ book is a result of one of those projects. My hope is it will provide cancer sufferers and their families and friends with inspiration, strength, and encouragement by reading the stories within this book. Ultimately, I hope anyone affected by cancer will use this book to focus their attention, making it their goal to survive and then share their story for future cancer patients, becoming themselves an inspiration to others.
Share your little big things
Lots of great tips and experiences have been shared on our pinboard, from eating frozen grapes during chemo to believing the impossible was possible, the little things really can make a big difference when it comes to coping with cancer. Share your own here.