Two years ago today since I was set free!

Freedom!

I’m due to go back to work full time in April, it seems a little bit poignant that today is also the exact day 2 years ago that the shackles came off, my discharge forms were signed and I was finally allowed to go outside, to leave hospital, I was finally allowed to go home. It sounds like I’m talking about prison, and in a way it actually was, although to be fair the food in prison is probably much better. It was March 20th, I got to tick the last day off my calendar, my transplant was over and I was allowed to go home, well, to be specific I was only allowed to go to my girlfriend’s family home as it was within 20 minutes to the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to be further from the hospital incase of an emergency, but it was my home away from home.

The day after being discharged Niamh asked me if I wanted to go for food nearby as a celebration for being finished and my very quick response was that I waned PIZZA! Off we went to enjoy some awesome pizza to celebrate not just me being discharged from hospital, but a celebration for us as a couple, being able to be together again outside of hospital, getting a little bit of a taste of some normal relationship stuff!

I remember leaving St. James’s Hospital, stopping for a brief moment before walking out the main door, my suitcase in tow, I was very aware of the apprehension of actually going outside in to the real world, in to the fresh air. Out I went, I was free, I was done, done with chemotherapy, done with radiation, done with the transplant, it was time to go home. I looked up at the sky while taking a deep breath of fresh air, something I wasn’t able to do for 5 solid weeks, and thought to myself how lucky, relieved, and thankful I was to be going home.

Returning to full time hours

It’s a huge achievement for me personally returning to work full time, and I feel more than ready for it, not to say that it’s going to be a walk in the park either. Some days when I reflect on what I’ve been through, or a memory of something that happened while I was in hospital strikes fear in to my mind or my body, I think to myself, the fact that I’m back in work at all is an achievement in itself.

I was actually due to start back full time on Monday, the start of April, however I picked up a bad case of sinusitis and because my body was low due to the infection I actually came down with facial shingles! It is the first time I have ever had shingles and for anyone else out there that has had them before, I feel your pain, I have been in utter agony the last week, I didn’t make it in to work, and my full time start date has been pushed out 2 weeks due to it. The shingles is apparently a common side effect in the first year or to for any post transplant/chemotherapy patient, cancer seems to be the gift that just keeps giving.

Every now and then while out with a friend or chatting to someone I hear the comment “I don’t know how you did it, I couldn’t have gone through what you had to go through” it sometimes resurfaces and shines through the enormity of what I did actually have to go through, and I have to say, it’s incredibly nice to hear, because it just makes me more and more proud to have come as far as I have done from the deep depths of darkness.

Appearances can be deceiving

Mentioning above about what I had to go through, it’s an interesting point and one that has bothered me since the beginning, the lack of choice. One of things I absolutely hated most about cancer was that lack of choice, my freedom of choice was ripped away from me. If you don’t have this chemotherapy you won’t make it, if you don’t have this radiation therapy there is a good chance the cancer will come back and you won’t make it, the full body radiation may cause you to get other types of cancer in the future i.e. skin cancer or lung cancer (The radiation specialist kindly (had to) listed out all the different types of cancer I might get in the future due to the full body radiation I had to have, including % of likeliness), but if you don’t have it now the cancer may come back and you won’t make it, you need the bone marrow transplant otherwise you won’t make it. I’m not really sure where my freedom of choice was in any of those scenarios, well taking in to consideration that I value my life and want to make the absolute most of it so would rather be here to do that. That was tough, and to be fair it still is. Cancer doesn’t just go away after you get the all clear, it’s evilness lingers, I guess as time passes it will drift further and further away, however it’s evil head will still follow from a distance, just waiting to remind you of that fear or doubt anytime you just don’t feel right.

I’m two years on but yet I am still having to deal with what I’ve gone through on both a physical and a mental basis far too often for my liking. Perhaps I was quite naive to think that after 2 years I would be very well recovered, and that I wouldn’t have to be dealing with the physical repercussions of what my body went through that much at this point, yet I was sadly mistaken. I think I just need to remind myself of what my body had to go through over the course of the last few years to ground myself again.

People often tell me how well I look now, or how great it is that I’m back out running, how right they are, at the same time I want, or rather I need people to know that the physical and mental battle continue in a big way for me, it’s just something that I don’t talk about as much anymore. I know that we all have our own stuff going on and I’m very aware of that, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter how well I look or how it may appear to everyone on the outside, the battle rages on on the inside, and like everyone, I still have my tough days. At the same time, I know that those close to me naturally refrained from opening up to me about their struggles for such a long time due to what I was going through, but I’m so happy to be able to be there for those people now, to help those who have helped me, after all, that’s what it’s all about, helping each other through the hard times.

I thought last summer was going to be my summer, my summer of recuperation and my leap forward in to a season of improvement and strengthening, and around this time last year I was flying, but once April arrived so did my post transplant 6 month inoculation plan, and that was that. Due to the process of the bone marrow transplant I essentially had the body of a new born baby and with that the immune system of one, all my previous inoculations throughout my whole life wiped out, and therefore I needed to receive every inoculation I’ve ever had once again over a 6 month period. It literally wiped me out for the 6 months, then came winter and with that so did the attack on my already weakened immune system.

I quickly realised there is no leaping forward when recovering from cancer, it’s slow progress with a lot more bumps than I anticipated. On a positive note, I am getting better, I am getting stronger, my running is improving, and I have certainly noticed that I need less recovery time as I did a year ago because my immune system is rebuilding all the time. Now that winter is just about over, maybe this summer will be my summer, my summer of moving forward, no leaping, but slow progression in to a better life, we will see.

New York City!

In exactly 4 weeks time Niamh and I are off to New York for a week, we absolutely cannot wait, we deserve this trip so much, a week to catch up with each other, our relationship, and as I said to her only yesterday, it is hopefully our long awaited fresh start, an awesome trip followed by the summer! We are together over 4 years now yet 3.5 years of that time has been a constant struggle, we need a break from it all, some happiness, we could do with that fresh start, we deserve it, she deserves it!

I feel we still haven’t had that fresh start we need. To think that we had to “celebrate” our 2 year anniversary in St. James’s Hospital days before my bone marrow transplant, our 2 year anniversary and I was already battling cancer for the 2nd time, battling to stay alive so that I could be there to give her that happy life she deserves. My heart breaks for her because after all she has had to go through, she deserves to now finally be able to enjoy our time together as we look to move forward.

So roll on New York, we can’t wait for it, to see the sights, do some shopping, eat some awesome food, have a drink or two in some funky bars around the city, and needless to say, I’ll be taking my runners with me to hopefully catch a sneaky run or two while we are there.

June 14th 2019

On the 14th of June it will mark 2 years to the day since I got my 100 day post transplant scan all clear result, the result that my life depended on, the result that would answer the question of whether or not the transplant worked, needless to say I will forever be both relieved and thankful that it went my way, I had to fight hard for it, we all did, but it went my way.

Every post cancer patient has their time target, that number of years you have to manage to stay alive until you can be considered in remission, or for it to be considered a time where you can be deemed as safe as you will ever be. June 14th of this year is that time for me, my specialist told me that if I make it 2 years from my post transplant all clear scan, I would have a 95% chance of survival. I asked if my bone marrow transplant was just something that would keep me alive for a particular number of years or if it was supposed to be a for life type of scenario, thankfully her response was that the transplant was due to be for life!

Every year Niamh and I will celebrate on June 14th, but this year will be extra special as it’s my target, after that we can only hope that life is fair to me, to us, to my family and friends, because it’s not just me that has had to go through this battle, it’s all of us.

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Don’t forget that I do post more regular smaller updates on my Facebook page, details below if you wish to follow the page.

Please join me on July 28th for this wonderful event for a really great cause. Walk, jog, or run, it’s all about coming together to take part and have fun.

The Never Give Up 5k/10k

Registration link for my event is below:

https://www.popupraces.ie/race/never-give-up-5k-10k/

 

Beating the January blues 👍🏼

Christmas Overindulgence

I was so happy to be at home for Christmas this year, and most importantly well enough to be able to enjoy it. I was able to take part, to help out my Mum and Dad, to be able to visit and spend time with my friends and my family, and to just be able to take it all in and enjoy the simple things about Christmas.

As the darker colder weather begins to creep in from September onwards it’s somehow easier to endure and put aside that change in weather because of the whole exciting lead up to Christmas, however, it’s after Christmas when I tend to begin to struggle. January and February are so dark, cold, wet, and just so dreary, the January blues definitely start to kick in, once Christmas is over I feel I really need something to keep me going until March when Spring is upon us and it starts to get brighter, warmer and cheerier.

I have to say I really over indulged with junk food during Christmas, I absolutely fell in to the “Ah sure it’s Christmas” mentality and it really backfired on me. As soon as December arrived any resilience I had just disappeared, my sugar cravings worsened due to a bad spell of fatigue. By the time Christmas came around it was actually beginning to really get me down, I was eating so much junk food, it was time to make a plan! I didn’t want to be stuck in a rut with January looming. People often say how Christmas is all about over indulging and I do agree with that, but if it’s a case it starts affecting your mental health then it’s definitely food for thought.

Exercise & Healthy Eating

It’s quite simple, after the overindulgence of Christmas my plan was to use healthy eating and exercise as a way to give myself that boost I needed. My aim for January in terms of exercise was for 3 runs a week for the month of January. As for the healthy eating, no crisps, sweets, chocolate or alcohol for the month of January, I guess alcohol doesn’t really count because I very rarely drink anyway, but still, the challenge was set, and I did it!

The challenge went great! To be honest I found it relatively easy, the exercise part was never a doubt unless I was feeling unwell. I managed to get my 3 runs a week in for the month of January so I’m absolutely delighted with that. I feel like my body is finally starting to get stronger, and importantly I feel that I can trust it a lot more now. Needless to say I’ll still have bumps along the way but if it is a case that I come down with a cold or flu, I have more confidence that my body will fight it that bit better than it would have last year! My specialist told me that it would be 2 years after the transplant before I would have any sort of an immune system, so I just need to clear this winter and I’m there.

As for the healthy eating, I found it quite easy, I had no treats whatsoever during the month of January, just healthy eating, healthy snacking, and any sugar was down to natural sugars from fruit. I might just keep it going for another few weeks too until I have that day where I feel it’s time to treat myself!

I can’t tell you how much better I feel after such a positive month, the healthy eating and exercise has really given me the boost I was looking for! I’m delighted with my consistency with my running, and feel happier now that I have returned to healthy eating. I was really not looking forward to January as I thought it would just be a disastrous month but it’s actually turned out to be such a positive one. Roll on February now, I hope to pretty much do the same, and just hope that I can maintain that consistency with the running.

February

February is a very significant month for my girlfriend and I. The 23rd of February will mark 2 years since I was admitted to St James’s Hospital for 5 weeks to have my bone marrow transplant, the last resort to getting me cancer free again!

The 28th of February will mark my 4 year anniversary with Niamh, to think we were together just 6 months when I was first diagnosed, here we are now after my 2 battles with cancer, having had to fight an extremely difficult time in our lives and our relationship and we’re still going strong, we really didn’t have it easy but we’ve managed to come out the other side and we are now starting to enjoy our lives again and really trying to live it up, as they say, we’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.

I often say that getting out running outside puts me in such good form, it’s what keeps me going most days and something I really look forward to. At the end of every single run I do I always make sure to stop, and do my cool down stretching in the fresh air looking back over the park and just enjoying being here and being able. As you can see from the picture below, I’m a happy runner right now, I achieved my January goals, now roll on February.

I hope to run the Lusk 4 Mile road race at the end of this month as my first race of 2019, so that’s my next target. I have a number of small targets set each month leading up to my Never Give Up 5k, so time will tell how it all pans out, but it’s definitely been the start to 2019 I had hoped for 🙂

Don’t forget that I do post more regular smaller updates on my Facebook page, details below if you wish to follow the page.

Thank you for reading, please share my story.

To follow me on Instagram search: PROBYC or Chris Proby

To follow me on Facebook search: NEVER GIVE UP

The Never Give Up 5k/10k

Registration link for my event is below:

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you all for following me and my progress. I get quite a few messages from a wide range of people, people in similar circumstances, people who are struggling with their mental health, or struggling with injuries, and to think that they can take a little bit of motivation or inspiration from my story goes a very long way with me, it makes it all worthwhile.

Needless to say, I haven’t exactly had an enjoyable Christmas over the last few years, but to be actually still here, and home with my family and friends to enjoy it this year just means so much to me. To be able to help my Mum and Dad this year and to help out those around me means so much to me, that I am here to help, and that I am able to help. This Christmas I am absolutely making the most of it, to think that I was at a point where I thought I wouldn’t make the next Christmas, but now I am still here and I definitely do appreciate it that much more.

Niamh and I have been watching lots of Christmas movies having our cosy nights in 🙂

 

Last winter I wasn’t well enough to run, this winter I managed to get my 17th Parkrun in which I thoroughly enjoyed,  especially because I get to catch up with friends  🙂

 

Now I’ve made my way home to Co.Wexford (with Bear) to spend Christmas with my family and friends 🙂

I even offered to make a dessert for Christmas day to help out Mum and Dad which I was delighted to do this morning, delighted to be able to do, especially seeing as I never ever make desserts.

Progress

As for my progress, I’m up to 3 days a week in work now which I am coping well with, and something even more important is that I did get a cold recently while in work and I only had to take 2 sick days which is a huge sign for me. A cold last winter would have absolutely shattered me for 2 or 3 weeks, so to lose just 2 days of work is a huge sign of my body getting stronger compared to last winter which makes me really happy!

Speaking of work, when I joined the company in 2015 I was 7 months in the job and waiting for my probationary period to be signed off when I took ill. I never got to sign the forms, I was out of work for 3 years, 3 long years, but my seat on the team was kept for me which was a hugely positive thing, and well just a few days ago before I left for my Christmas holidays my probation was signed off and I was made permanent. What a great way to start Christmas.

As for my running, considering I was barely able to run at all last winter I am delighted to have kept up some form of consistency over the last few months running about 3 times a week, but making sure to take it while I adjust to being back at work, I have to be more careful with my energy levels but it’s all progress and improvement and I’ll take it, roll on 2019!

I hope to see you for my charity event taking place in July 2019 in aid of the Irish Cancer Society, details and link below.

Let it out

I’m certainly making the most of this Christmas, I’m just so thankful to be here, and to be able to enjoy it with my family and friends, and to be able to do what I can to help out. My mental health has really been a roller coaster lately, when it’s good it’s good, but when I go downhill I really go downhill but I just try to keep going knowing, hoping, that it will get better but that it might just take some time. Cancer absolutely tore my mental and physical health down to the absolute bone and due to that I really find that the little things upset me more, they hurt me more, deeper, but I’m hopeful that with time I will heal and become stronger as the days pass by.

People tell me how well I look now, I get so many people mentioning it to me lately and they are right, and it’s so nice to hear, but the mental health battle is still raging on deep inside, those difficult things that I am dealing with every single day, but not just me, we all have our battles going on, all of us, one way or another.

I find that talking to those around me really helps, just to get it out, to get it off the chest, people have no idea what struggles we may be dealing with inside if we don’t let them out and talk about them, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are having those difficult days and it’s building up inside you, remember that one of the things family and friends are there for is when you need help, go and let it out and get it off the chest and you’ll feel a whole lot better, you may be struggling on the inside but no matter hard you are finding things on the inside, those looking at the outside may never know.

Enjoy your Christmas and the New Year, enjoy being with family and friends, make the most of it, enjoy the small things, enjoy every single moment 🙂

Don’t forget that I do post more regular smaller updates on my Facebook page, details below if you wish to follow the page.

Thank you for reading, please share my story.

To follow me on Instagram search: PROBYC or Chris Proby

To follow me on Facebook search: NEVER GIVE UP

The Never Give Up 5k/10k

Registration link for my event is below:

https://www.popupraces.ie/race/never-give-up-5k-10k/

 

The LoveGorey Article

Love Gorey

LoveGorey.ie recently and kindly interviewed me for an article and posted it up online, click on the link below for a read. Going through my story from start to finish with someone who hasn’t heard it before gives me a fairly all too vivid reminder of what happened, but also gives me a strong reminder of just how far I’ve come.

https://lovegorey.ie/chris-proby/

As Niamh and I get our apartment decorated for Christmas I think back to the previous few Christmas times I’ve had, in 2015 I was home but between chemotherapy sessions after being diagnosed with cancer the first time, in 2016 I was in hospital after relapsing, and I have to say that I found being in hospital during Christmas was really really difficult, all you can think about is how you should be at home with your family. In 2017 I was home with my family in the all clear but I was really badly ill for the whole winter and was either in bed or on the couch sleeping, it was a miserable winter. So far so good in 2018, I’m just that bit more recovered so I’m hoping that this one will be a good one, I think I’m finally letting my Christmas excitement emerge after a relatively apprehensive lead up to this month.

As for my running, I’m being cautious and taking it fairly easy seeing as I’m back to work now, and I certainly have to manage my energy levels a lot more. I’ve averaged approximately 17kms a week for the last 6 weeks which I’m quite happy about all things considering! I barely got to run at all last winter so I’ll take what I can this winter and just make sure I look after the body, if I could keep ticking over with running regularly through the winter then I’ll be one happy runner.

Three days of work a week for the next 3 weeks which is great followed by the Christmas holidays and then I have 2 weeks off work. I’m enjoying a nice end to this year and hope for a stronger, healthier year next year.

The Never Give Up 5k/10k

In aid of the Irish Cancer Society

I need all the help I can get to try and raise as much money as I can for the Irish Cancer Society and to make this event a successful one, so please spread the word and share it for me if you get the chance, thank you in advance.

Please SHARE SHARE SHARE and help me help others by supporting this event.

https://eventmaster.ie/event/9R1Sw5HWJ

Thank you for reading, please share my story.

To follow me on Instagram search: PROBYC or Chris Proby

To follow me on Facebook search: NEVER GIVE UP