For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, 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 51 years old and in October 2011 I 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 gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0, February 2015 it was up to 5.5 and my latest in August 2015 was down againg at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer), albiet with small mass. Now I am awaiting HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment in January at UCHL). 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?
So here we are in December getting ready for Xmas. Lots of boozing and gluttony. Then in January, we have the new year. Have you made your New Years resolution? I haven't. There is a reason for this. On the 22nd Jan, I will be admitted into UCH for the day to have my prostate gland zapped with Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound beams. In the circumstances, I sort of think that my New Year maybe should start on Feb 1st. I normally make a half hearted attempt to give up boozing that usually lasts about two weeks. I can't say this concept has much appeal.
As to the HIFU, having opted for this in December, I've had a couple of follow up appointments. As it is a trial, I had to go through various extra hoops. These involve signing lots of forms and going through the procedure. Doctors tend to discuss things in a rather matter of fact manner. As I've never had such things as a cathater, I had a stack of questions (I will have one for a week). I learned all sorts of interesting facts. For instance it is possible to have sexual intercourse whilst wearing one, although the consultant advised that I probably wouldn't be in the mood. The bottom line is that he's advised me to take a couple of weeks off work. I am one of those strange fellows who actually quite likes working, so this is not really a bonus. But it is not a disaster. Let me explain why.
On Sunday I bumped into John Hart, who is one of our local Conservative councillors. John is an interesting chap, an octogenerian. He's been around a bit, was formerly a Polytechnic lecturer. Unlike many Conservatives, John doesn't dislike Trades Unions, in fact he set his own one for lecturers. he has written a book and is fluent in a range of languages. He made an interesting comment to me. He said "why don't you knock the blogging on the head and write a book? It's far more interesting". I think my answer rather surprised him. I told him that I'm in the process of writing two. The first of these is a novel I've been working on for many years. It is a tale of sordid sex and manipulation in the workplace. I completed it many years ago and was about to see if I could get it published when my hard disc crashed and I lost the lot. However it is all in the head, so it simply needs retyping. The second book is "How to make money in the music industry". This is actually more an autobiography as to how I somehow managed to end up as the owner of one of Londons most successful music studios. John suggested that I concentrate on the second of the two. His advice "People will always shell out cash for something if they think it could tell them how to earn a few quid". As I'm a prolific writer, I reckon I could knock both out in a week, as I won't have any distractions (apart from pain and discomfort of course).
Then there is the Save London Music campaign. I have also decided to make a documentary film to support the campaign. I have a few contacts in the music industry and I think I've come up with a rather good idea which will help to raise the profile of the campaign. I don't want o say too much as its a bit nickable, but if you are a TV producer, then maybe you might like a chat as if I can get proper finance for the project, it will be fantastic as opposed to just rather good. So that is another thing to focus on.
Then there are The False Dots. My band. We have nearly finished our new album, we will be recording the final two (or possibly three) songs early in January. Then we have our new project "London Symphonies". This will largely be written by Allen Ashley, with myself and the other Dots contributing the music, but I will definately be writing a few numbers. This is a very different project from what we've worked on before. It is ambitious, but that has never daunted me! (BTW The False Dots are appearing at The Barnet Eye annual awards at The Chandos Arms, Colindale on Friday evening - Admission is free).
I was outlining my plans for my two week sabbatical to a friend. He said "Mate, you are in denial, why are you think about all this crap when yo should be focussing on getting better". He was worried that I may be jeopardising my health by taking too much stress on when I should be resting and recovering. The answer is simple. I will only do any of this if I feel like it. I've learned to manage my body over the years. I always make sure I sleep enough, eat good things and keep hydrated. I have many things which help me destress, I have regular massages. I go to a health club at least once a week, simply to have a sauna and a jacuzzi. I also have various medative exercises. I believe that the way to cope is to have balance. Positivity is my greatest weapon against cancer. Having something to live for.
I have always had one abiding principle in life, before I finish one project, I get the next underway. This way, I never finish a job and think "What do I do with myself now?". Life is fantastic, it is the greatest gift God could give us. We live in a city where you could go out every night of the year (if you could afford it) and see great musicians. You can eat the foo of the world. We have museums, cathedrals and parks which you can visit for free. You can walk down the South bank and see street entertainers and fantastic views. There's an old saying, if you are tired of London, you are tired of life. We have BBC Radio London, which has the Robert Elms show, which is the chronicle of London. I believe Elms to be the modern day Samuel Pepys.
In short, there is plenty to live for and the time to appreciate it is today. When my mother turned 80, she gave me some very sound advice. When she was 75, she had a life changing stroke and was instantly changed from a vivacious woman to a housebound, little old lady. She'd spent five years living as a virtual recluse, only really seeing family. I asked if she had any regrets. She said "none at all, I made sure that I did everything I wanted to in life. I am happy now to sit at home, read books and have a drink. I always vowed to not be a person who waited till it was too late to do the things I wanted".
That has been my ethos. I hope it sees me through.