Qualities rediscovered

Reflecting back on the last few years I am discovering self qualities or characteristics that I was unaware of. Do any of us really know ourselves?
I remember having a conversation with my GP a while back. I was feeling a little sorry for myself as can happen. She looked through my medical records and then looked at me and said. Tom look at what you have come through, and how you always come back. She pointed out to me my resilience and I am very grateful to her for that.
I had a psychotherapy session just a few days ago. This lady is really good and she talks to cancer patients to help them get through the voyage. That’s her job. She listens and she mirrors. We discuss lots of things, life, philosophy, poetry whatever. And sometimes we discuss cancer. But it is good that we talk about lots of subjects. She showed me how deep I was and how I have always been. I had forgotten. I had been told that by people throughout my life but never really accepted it.
I have often wondered have I got through the ‘horrors’ and ‘rapids’ of chemotherapy but those two ladies have helped me realise that resilience and depth were important tools.
We all have those qualities, we need to cultivate depth we need to believe in ourselves, we need to make efforts to understand ourselves and our minds.
“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

Witnessing Life

As usual I will start by remarking on how long it is since I last posted … I have an urge to express myself in writing (always but particularly tonight) – Have a blogging colleague (for want of a better term) Linnea https://outlivinglungcancer.com/author/linnea11/ who shares a similar journey to mine and blogs frequently and elegantly and is inspiring so here goes ….

This is not so much a ‘cancer’ blog but more a reflection on life (however it is also informed by my cancer experiences). I went to ARC Cancer support today to see Suzy (a psycho-oncologist) – Told her things I don’t think I ever told anyone before – Nothing secret just how I met Sylvie (my wife, partner, better-half and whatever you’re having yourself) and re-met her and my adventures in Morocco and Paris and fate (or was it) – Did I ‘engineer’ it all? – Funny how things work out. It was good to remember those things and helpful to me in understanding myself. We went further back to my earlier days and things start to make sense. …

Anyway, I also talked about my sense of being a witness in the world – Just Watching, Observing, Seeing – In essence in so far as I can, just enjoying life, experiencing it, marveling at it all.

Some mornings it can be hard to get up but it is always worth it – Never know what is going to happen. See a flower, remember talking to a park keeper in passing – He told me what he was doing (planting Fritilerria bulbs) months ago. They are flowering now and gorgeous but one needs to be observing to see them they are so small. Not a major event but isn’t that why we are here – To be part of the ‘Creation’, to Witness it, To Live

As always please enjoy your life – Don’t take it TOO seriously but seriously enough (quand meme). Drink the best wine first (priorities) and if going to cinema go and see western ‘The Sisters Brothers’ – a great western ……

Cancer still fucks – (Let’s fuck it back a little)

Three month’s since I last posted – That’s way too long! This blog is supposed to be one of my attempts at creativity – Helping me on the river and being therapeutic – It has been and is all of those things – So why so long to post? Well here goes

Have been looking back at the posts I did in the past – One that stands out for me is “cancer fucks’ – It was fucking with me at the time – psychologically – And it is fucking with a good friends mum at this very moment – physically – The ’emperor of maladies’ is ruthless. I so feel for my friend. Please excuse the language but we are all adults here!

I bumped into her at the Paul Simon gig in July. She was with her sister – Their dad was supposed to be with them but cancer was fucking with their mum. Because of that it was also fucking up their lives. I usually write of cancer personally but in reality it is not only the diagnosed who suffer – All around them suffer – We didn’t exactly laugh at cancer but we did dance and sing our hearts out. Paul Simon can help transcend the horrible if only for a few hours – Thanks Paul and thanks to James Taylor who played earlier. Indeed – ‘you’ve got a friend’

For myself cancer still fucks with me – Even six years in – Everyday day I wonder when will I need to get the wetsuit on and get back in the canoe – Not soon it seems – Scan result a couple of weeks ago – All good – A huge smile and hug from my oncologist – She tells me I’m her best patient (am sure that is relatively speaking) – If I can keep an oncologist smiling I must be doing something right. I may regret saying so but maybe it is time that somebody fucked with cancer.

So much to enjoy before next scan – Theatre (a female Hamlet and some Beckett) – Music (David Byrne, Steve Miller, Van Morrison Robert Plant, John Fogarty, Madeleine Peyroux, Johnny Mary) – Two big birthday’s – Qi Qong retrea in west Cork – Wild food foraging – Maybe getting back into the Wicklow mountains – and red red wine – Life – Live it!

Coming thru

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”


I liked the above quote when it came up. Have read some Murakami and think he has a lot of wisdom – Very Japanese – Very Zen.

The last post I did was called ‘it’s all good’ – I suppose it was all good that day but the reality was different. Well it wasn’t different. It is always All Good. Seeing that seagull and listening to Mr Zimmerman was just about what I needed. However the reality was that I was on my way to see a psycho therapist.

I had just gotten news that the latest snapshot showed “something”. Biopsy needed. The storm was far from over – My storm it seems is never really over. This appointment had been pre-arranged for such an eventuality. A perfect example of how luck I am with the care-givers looking after me. It turned out to be nothing. All clear. Another six months wondering if the storm is over. That was over three months ago. Three months to get back to a blog which is very important to me and a therapeutic practice I believe.

I always liked storms, the power of Nature, the noise, the movement …. The chaos of it all … the volatility and then the calm. So the canoe trip can be a storm sometimes, Life is a storm. Wouldn’t have it any other way!! But Murakami is spot on “When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked”.

Very strange today. Let myself get upset by others and by trivial shite. That hasn’t happened for a long time. In life we sometimes make our own storms. Natures storms should be enough to handle. Hope it is not as long until I write again. It is so good to lay down a few words.

As always .. Drink the best wine first.

Time to make the best of the summer, lots of gardening, swimming and learning to be enjoyed before next snapshot is due. Wish I could put it out of my mind.

C’mon Bob – tell me again and again – “It’s all good” – Paul Simon, James Taylor, Steve Miller band among others to see and enjoy before years end.

It’s all good

Again – haven’t posted for ages. Think it’s time to start again but inspiration is lacking.

Good lyrics – “I’m a reasonable man – Get off my case” – Radiohead

Can music and lyrics make sense? Can they contribute something to the rhythm of life? Am sure most people have musical lyrics and/or Poetry in their heads a lot of the time. I certiainly do.

Listened to Robert Zimmerman in my car today – “It’s all good” !!

Around the same time I watched a seagull (not a Swan mind you) landing elegantly in the Grand Canal – somewhere around Rialto, Dublin – Meant so much to me that I had noticed and noted it.

It’s all good!!

Calm Waters

I haven’t posted for such a long time. Re-reading the last post I made I can feel the trepidation and anxiety I was experiencing at that time. In fact I was told to go away for a while – ‘complete remission’. The radiologists wrote it, the oncologist conveyed it. Six months later … Same process – same result – ‘No evidence of disease’. Sweet words. Wasn’t supposed to be like this …..

Not sure if I ever posted about the psychological effects of a secondary cancer diagnosis. It just doesn’t go away.

Not sure what I want to write about (again) …. but feel an urge to commit words to paper (or pixels to a screen). Have hung up the wetsuit for a while and am enjoying just getting on with life on dry land. Traveling at present in Vietnam. Learned today about how the Vietnam Cong defeated the might of the US and realising that the bigger the challenge the deeper one has to (and often does) dig. Spent a wonderful day yesterday out on the Mekong delta (I think Apocalype Now was on the Mekong). Very uplifting and so peaceful, but also so dangerous. Calm waters.

Have recently been advised by a psycho-oncologist to keep writing – To write about the trauma of diagnosis and to write about advice to help others through the process, the rapids etc … I think that is good advice and intend to post along those lines in the near future.

For now I am enjoying a calm stretch ..

Immediate advice to anyone in the same position as myself (Indeed to everybody and don’t wait for a cancer diagnosis)

– Drink the best wine first – Have posted that before – shows my priorities …

– Travel …

– Travel far ….

– Travel wild ….

– Meditate



Watching from the Riverbank

Watching from the River bank
I had alluded to certain facts about not noticing others in the same position as one self (on this same boat so to speak) while rowing thru’ some rapids. I have been out of my canoe for some months – walking along the river bank but keeping canoe close by – Always ready to get in and row again but watching from the river – Seeing close friends going thru’ a really tough section of rapids with very little hope of coming thru the other side in one scenario that tortures one. My mind can’t refrain from thinking that will be me sooner or later – It is a horrific thing to witness even from a distance. Hoping I don’t need to don the wetsuit again just yet.

There are periods when the rest may be over and it is one’s duty or ones time to row, row row that boat. I’m in such a period right now. Snap Shot taken and being analysed. Results probably ready but not yet received. They will be soon. They could well tell me go away we’ll have a look at you again in 5/6 months. They may tell me to put on the wetsuit. They may even put me on a different river.

I can hear any of those scenarios but at least the uncertainty will abate for a while

Wish me well my friends

My advice to all whether on this ride or another

Cook something good everyday
Get a bit of physical activity under your belt daily
Drink the best wine first
Posted by thomas monks at 22:08
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