In Feb 2003 after finding a lump in my left thigh and undergoing much prodding and poking I was diagnosed as having a very rare muscle tissue cancer called Leiomyosarcoma.
My first thought strangely enough was that my chances of a career as a first team player for LFC was over. It was quite a blow; after all I was only 51, although I must admit they had been ignoring my emails for some time. I also ran the full gamut of the standard thoughts such as “why me” and “this can’t be happening”. However happening it was, leaving me no choice but to deal with it.
Two days after diagnosis the tumour was successfully removed and a few weeks later I underwent a course of radiotherapy, which I can only describe as gruelling. For the next 15 months everything seemed to be going according to plan, until at a routine check-up a secondary tumour was discovered in my left lung.
I underwent a second successful operation which required no further treatment. After a period of recuperation I was well enough to return to work, and life proceeded much as normal as I could expect. However the big C had not finished with me and five years ago, again after a routine check at the request of my GP I was diagnosed as having Prostate Cancer. Another operation followed plus, yet again, more radiotherapy; another success for the wonderful staff of the NHS, God bless them one and all.
I could have easily felt hard done by in the last ten years, and at times I did; times when I realised that my strongly held belief that God had created the world just for me was a sad and pathetic delusion. I now know that the possibility of dying peacefully in my sleep at the age of 97 and my wife being so distressed that she would be unable to complete her A levels was something that doesn’t happen to anybody, not even someone as special as I thought I was.
Delusions shattered I can now focus on the reality of my life and the wonderful things that have happened in the last ten years. I have had great times with friends, relatives, fantastic holidays, parties, nights out and much more. I have walked two daughters down the aisle and seen the arrival of five beautiful grandchildren. My outlook on life has changed forever and although physically weaker, I feel emotionally stronger. I am more in touch with the emotions of those I love, these are the people you can alienate while wallowing in self pity, which, at times, I openly admit I did.
If I could describe one incident that sums up my outlook now, it would be a couple of weeks ago when out shopping with my daughter and youngest granddaughter. As we were leaving the supermarket my granddaughter toddled up behind me and grasped the fore-finger of my hand. I looked down and saw this perfect little face beaming up at me while her perfectly formed little hand held my finger tightly.
All I have been through forgotten and all I have been through remembered and all worth it, for that one special moment.
And I have had thousands of them.
Optimist or pessimist, glass half empty or half full, I only know I’m going back for a top-up.