I am definitely an outdoors type of guy, especially when it comes to running, I don’t care about the cold, rain or darkness, I’ll still go out running whatever the season, so I found going from running outside five days a week to being mostly bed bound in hospital really difficult to deal with.
Seeing as I was so determined to get back running when I finished with all my treatment and my leg healed up I had to consider the highly likely scenario of muscle atrophy, especially in my legs, and I certainly didn’t want my leg muscles to waste away. I asked the doctors if there was any way of exercising my legs while in hospital, and a stationary bike was provided, one that I could cycle while sitting in my own chair, so it wouldn’t put weight bearing pressure on my healing femur. It was left in my room as I was the only one in the ward who seemed to want to use it. I would try and use it a little bit every day but with the fatigue caused by the treatment it would just depend day to day, sometimes I would end up falling asleep on the chair straight after using it, but that was ok as it was important for me to keep my legs moving a bit, and I probably would have been asleep anyway. My orthopedic specialist who was looking after my leg was considering putting pins in my leg as my femur was so badly damaged, but I explained to him how much running meant to me and of course the impact that it would have on my running going forward so we agreed against the idea.
I told my girlfriend that I wanted to run the Dublin City Marathon in 2017 and that was my goal. So I had the whole of 2016 for my leg to heal and hopefully walk myself back to fitness before starting to jog again.
Bye bye St Anne’s, bye bye crutches!
On the 22nd of February 2016 I finished all my chemo treatment, all seven sessions, and my girlfriend came to pick me up from the ward to bring me home. Much to her delight, I had kept the secret that I was coming off my crutches that day, and so when she picked me up and we began to walk out of the room, I left the crutches behind, after six months of not being able to put my foot to the ground I was finally able to walk properly again, she was delighted, especially with it being just one week before our 1 year anniversary.
I also arrived home to a lovely surprise, cheesecake and bubbly 🙂
The all clear!!
On the 22nd of March I got the all clear. I can’t even begin to explain the stress or the anxiety that I had leading up to the scan, and the results. All the worst case scenario questions you ask yourself, the worry, the fear, the what if questions. The effect it has on me, on my girlfriend, my family, friends, it’s a very difficult thing to process. I was due in for my results on that Friday, but on that Tuesday I was lying on the couch watching TV, and I received a call from the Nurse who was looking after me, she just blurted it straight out that I got the all clear, she didn’t want me suffering all week waiting for the result. I remember just saying, oh, wow, that’s great news isn’t it. We were both very happy. After the call I lay back down on the couch and turned the TV back on, I am pretty sure I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do.
Regardless of getting the all clear, I was scheduled in for radiation treatment for three solid weeks in April but thankfully as an outpatient. The radiation specialist explained that they still wanted to proceed with it to rubber stamp the job the chemo had done to ensure the cancer wouldn’t come back. It was quite a tough experience, the way you were positioned on the bed, strapped down, even the sound of the lasers when they are turned on, the smell, the side effects such as severe nausea and vomiting, and just the thought of what it was doing to your body. You are lying on a bed behind a big safety screen that keeps the staff safe from radiation while you have to endure it.
I had the radiation treatment to two main areas, firstly to where the tumor in my leg was, and secondly to the sinus in my head. Even though both the chemotherapy and radiation treatments where being used to save my life, they are two things not meant for the human body, not natural, and certainly not healthy. Just seeing the forms of treatment that cancer patients have to go through to try and get back in to remission really opens your eyes as to how savage cancer really is on the human body.
After finishing the full radiation treatment schedule I made my way home from hospital, it was the end of April. It was time to recover, physically and mentally. I was still in hospital every week for blood checks and monitoring and so on but at least the worst was over. I was also in monthly for bone strengthening medicine to help repair my femur after it was damaged so badly by the tumor. The specialist explained that between the bone strengthening medicine and natural healing I would be able to eventually get back running. Being the determined type of person that I am, I had already set my sights on the Dublin Marathon in 2017, but my aim for 2016 was to complete a 5km event before the end of the year all going well.
I found both sets of treatment pretty difficult, but I made a calendar and counted down the weeks until I was finished and would be free, and while I was counting down I just focused on my return to running to pull me through and that really helped me a lot.
NEXT WEEK: My recovery
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