For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 49 years old and I recently had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
I started writing this blog on Wednesday. The idea was to put it up today (Friday) in the morning and the Friday joke in the afternoon. As regular readers of the blog will realise, events took an unexpected turn and all of my planned blogs went out of the window. Ironically the subject of this blog was going to be stress and the ways to deal with it. Why? Stress is recognised as a major factor in the development and progression of cancers. Rather ironically, I was going to talk about my regime for destressing. Sadly, when you are a blogger and you get sent explosive council documents by whistleblowers any concept of stress management goes out of the window.
In a perfect world, I'd have completely stopped blogging about Barnet Council. It takes up a lot of time and causes me a lot of grief. I'd much rather be writing blogs about music, football and health related issues, but I feel I am obligated to the people of Barnet to do my best. Whilst I recognise that there are four other fantastic bloggers currently beavering away, I do not feel able to step away. The fact that people trust me enough to send me documents and put their jobs at risk, means that I in turn cannot ignore this debt of trust. I am sure every single reader of the blog, if I asked them whether I should put my health first would say yes. Being a blogger means taking chances (if you are any good). At the height of the Metpro scandal, other bloggers confided many fears about where the whole thing was going. My advice was to stick together and win through strength in numbers.
My own issues right now are different. I have a PSA and a CAT scan lined up in the next couple of weeks. I have a business to run and a family to feed. Maybe I should take these responsibilities more seriously? This is a question I ask myself. Then I come back to the old conundrum. If I was to ignore all of the leaks I get sent and stop blogging, what sort of message would that send my kids? They'd say "Dad gives up when life gets hard". I don't want my kids to learn that lesson. What about my business? If Barnet Council destroy the borough with stupid policies that are anti business, then my business will die. What about my cancer? Yes the stress of all this is bad, and surely can't help. But then what is the point being alive if you can't look in the mirror? In some ways my resentment of the people running Barnet Council has deepened, because all the stress caused by running the Barnet Eye is caused by a Council who clearly don't care and seem to not really know what they are doing.
So how do I deal with stress? I play football twice a week. I go to the gym most days and follow my workout with a trip to the sauna and the jacuzzi, followed by a short swim. At the start of the year, I decided to try and limit my blogging to one blog a day (that hasn't gone to plan). I also have been trying (and failing) to spend more time playing guitar and writing songs. Sadly some of the other things I do to destress have not exactly gone to plan recently. Watching Manchester City has returned to being a fraught experience of hair pulling in recent weeks (with the kids invariably getting yelled at in the process). So how successful is the destressing going. Well like most things there are good days and there are bad days. More good than bad though.
I also had a meeting this week with my GP. It confirmed that I really think the medical profession struggle to deal with patients dealing with cancer. I believe that having a positive attitude to everything is the best way to deal with it. I've started a semi vegetarian diet and massively boosted my intake of antoxidants and foods with properties which are known to impede development of cancer. My GP asked me how I was and I told her this, adding I was drinking five cups of green tea a day. Her response "Well I suppose it won't harm you". In truth I wasn't too impressed with this response. Clearly she was of the view that green tea has no proven beneficial effect and that I shouldn't put my trust in such things. What I felt was wrong with her comment is that she clearly didn't recognise that my lifestyle changes are not about thinking that if I drink green tea I'll magically get better. It is about trying to take charge of the process and trying to do anything at all I can to improve my odds. I recognise that doctors are suspicious of alternative remedies that distract people from conventional treatments which are clinically proven. What they seem to miss is the fact that many such things are complimentary to conventional treatments. If nothing else, they give the patient a feeling of doing their bit in the fight. I believe that people who are up for the fight do better. This may or may not be true, but it makes me feel better about myself. I am not going to give in to negative feelings.
And you may ask, how am I feeling. Well right now, pretty good. I am positive about everything.
Stay healthy and have a good weekend (a friday joke may or may not follow, but I've already written one more blog than I was supposed to today).