ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET…THE MYELOMA CHALLENGE

I’m 39 years old, no history of illness, Ironman finisher who has been diagnosed with myeloma. Did not see this coming. This blog summarises my journey from unexpected diagnosis through the treatment path. My aim is to use myeloma as a catalyst for living a better, more fulfilling life and documenting the changes I am making in all aspects of my family and work commitments.

Finally cracked…

Well, I’m not quite sure how to start this as I’ve usually got some comedic angle from which to drive my thinking but not so this time so a bit of a leap into the unknown.

I was admitted on the 2nd September, having previously had 5 fantastic days at home, with an infection and never expected to be in here some 23 days later. In that time I’ve had the positive news of the chemo finally working but also had to call upon every ounce of mental strength I thought I had at my disposal to get through the last 48 hours.

Everything felt like it was going fine. I knew I had to be hooked up to the 24-hour-a day-for-5-days heavy arse chemo and thought I was prepared, but Thursday night/Friday morning  hit and changed everything. The nurses had been monitoring my blood because something didn’t look quite right then at 0200, it seems my blood decided to stop transporting oxygen as God intended so a transfusion was swiftly arranged to top up my haemoglobin levels and keep me alive. So an exciting and tiring few hours of activity ensued with a variety of tubes of gases and liquids being pumped into my system. I was also told I’d need radiotherapy which was a shock but again, all manageable.

That in itself was not what broke me; I can take a bit of pain knowing that the end game will be worth the discomfort. For the first time since I was diagnosed in March, I cracked because I had been looking forward to a surprise party for my mates Rich and Duncan who had done the IronMan this year. I know, a party, pathetic right?!!

I had insisted that I had no breaks in between these rounds of chemo so I could guarantee getting out to make the party, even just for an hour. The transfusion totally screwed the timing and meant the earliest I could make it would be 10pm.

23 days in the same room, back pain, a never ending chemo hangover and the 1 thing I had to look forward to out the window just pushed me over the edge and I’m not too proud to say that I just broke down. I was missing home, Jenn, Max and Seb and just sick of not having my life as I wanted it.

It was at this point that having read Ranulph Fiennnes book Fear stood me in good stead because mental strength counts for so much in these times of real lows; and for me this was my lowest point to date.

Life is not fair. But how you deal with it will define how you as a person develop and grow from the experience. As Gary Hitchmough says, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

This is not to say I was still not a mess, my head was all over the place so I resigned myself to a long night in the hospital reading instead of catching up with friends.

I actually dozed off around 1730 but was woken by the nurses at 1830 saying that the chemo was just about finished. (I have not directly asked how this was achieved as I can only imagine some protocol was bypassed to speed up delivery of the drugs but the bags were just about empty.)

Enter from the left weeping session number 2!

I am not one for emotions but psychologically what was overcome last night took me from my lowest ebb. My old man picked me up and I had a superb hour in the pub with a bunch of people who mean a great deal to me.

The picture here is a snapshot of the people I value. I’m like a broken record but I hope those of you both near and far appreciate how much your messages of support keep me buoyed and focused on the end goal.

Whether you are fighting off snakes in Oz, the arctic cold of Scandinavia  or battling the elbows of your fellow commuters on the London Underground you know who you are.

I know there is a hell of a long way to go before I can say this disease is under control but until I get to that point, knowing you have my back is keeping me mentally on track and giving me hope that 2018 is going to be a year of celebration; on my tab of course!

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. JIM & SHEILA 24th September 2017

    Bloody ‘ell Pete, what a testing time so no wonder emotions are all over the place.
    Just think of how much catching up is to be done when you are through this…..
    Stay mentally strong and all best wishes coming from The Smarties….

  2. Glyn Bass 24th September 2017

    Roller coaster was always on the cards. Done the downhill bit but up ready for the next downhill run. With your mates and mental strength you will soon be flying along again. Everything still stretches out before you so one hiccup will not divert you from your goal. You have to be ready for Newcastle in Europe. Don’t forget that.
    We are all rooting for you. We defend your goal you do the successful scoring at the opponents end.

  3. Enda 24th September 2017

    Keep on truckin’ Pete, You’re still inspiring a lot of us – more so when it’s toughest of all.

  4. Dave 24th September 2017

    Peter, you are an amazing young man and with everyone of your posts, you seem to grow in stature, love mate, just lots of love, thats what we have for you,
    San & Dave.

  5. Diana 24th September 2017

    You are both so amazing, Pete -your words are of a brave warrior with the instinct to survive and overcome. Inner strength conquers so much. Sending you both hugs and positive inner strength. Keep Strong Xxxx❤️❤️❤️

  6. Michelle Woodrow 24th September 2017

    For you to not have cracked before pete with all that’s been put to challenge you – is testament to your strength and support from jenn, family and friends. We are all here for you and bloody proud of you. A tear or two, crack of strength – can actually help – refocus your mind and let you start these next days afresh. Plus that hour with your mates sounded fab! Dig deep and big hugs. Michelle and matt xx

  7. Tara 25th September 2017

    So glad you made the party!! To crack with everything you are going through is no surprise. Just remember we all by your side willing you, Jenn and the boys on!

  8. Zihni Acar Yazıcı 25th September 2017

    Truly amazing strength and endurance. Keep it going. Your progress is always in our thoughts.

  9. Cliff 25th September 2017

    Keep at it Peter. Stay strong, though you are allowed to weep now and then. It’s ok you know. It sounds as if it is going in the right direction and will soon be time to get to normality.

  10. Andreas Dåvøy 25th September 2017

    I have your back my friend!!! Having a beer for you here now – looking a lot forward to having one with you, and looking forward to seeing you and your lovely family! Well impressed with the way you are coping with this ordeal – this well and truely qualifies to “barsk Pete”! And my wife reckons your little “breakdown” is kind of a good thing – beeing superhuman for too long will break even YOU Pete (!). Human after all, but a really great one! Bottled up emotions will probably not dissapear, the odd outlet might not be too bad! I will keep pestering you like I said – talk to you sometime soon ❤ (PS – my wife laughs at my combination of and ❤)

    • Andreas Dåvøy 27th September 2017

      OK – the emoji for “glass of beer” didnt go through… my last comment kinda didnt make any sense…

  11. Alex Fry 26th September 2017

    Pete, you are coping with this admirably, I sure as hell would not have your stoicism, honest, humour and eloquence. Very testing times for you – we are thinking of you all and send hugs and strength vibes from the big smoke. Alex and Jo xx

  12. Keir 12th October 2017

    As posted previously, you are a total hero Pete. Coping, as you are, with something quite horrific in such good humour and mental toughness is incredible to behold. My mum had a mastectomy and loads of chemo and radiotherapy a few years back and I know would be happy to talk if that might help (I’m sure you have loads of these offers but…) also a dear friend of mine for 25 years was given only a 20% chance of survival after her first stem cell transplant (of her own cells) didn’t take. She’s been clear of leukaemia for 10 years now following a donor transplant.

    Your great attitude and fight will get you there.

    Also great choice of car btw 😉

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