• Austin Birks

Fear and Faith... The Cancer Conundrum

Truth be told, some days are frankly a bit frightening on this journey with cancer. And in truth, 9 days out of 10, I never bat an eye lid about what happens to me day in day out. I just dont ever think about it or its implications. It is now, if honest, just something that I do, without fear or favour. My strange brain does not even bother, I’m simply getting on with my day to day world with all its petty nonsense and rich seams of human interaction to make things happen in the world of business and everyday chores as we all face every week every year.


And then sometimes like tonight, out of the blue, you get this reality check fear moment that goes "Forget watching the Graham Norton show, you have cancer for the third time and it might have spread into a new more dangerous part of your vital organs mate, so what are you going to do about it?"

Well, first thought is: where the Charles Dickens has all that angst just parachuted in from? I never do this stuff, that’s for someone else not me, is not it? Well, no not really, after all I’m like everyone else, but in truth, when it surfaces its quite all-consuming and dark. So I need to find a way to manage this cloud and guess what? That is what I do.


First plan is do not over analyse or dwell on the dark side. It serves absolutely no positive process, and simply makes things worse, not better. My personal plan is to withdraw a wee bit, keep quiet for once and work it out in my own way. So, how does that work? Well, it starts with a review of the war so far, because this journey with cancer is just that, it is out there trying to get you.


It does not have compassion or care. It is a rebellion within your own body cells that turn murderous and simply want to do you in. That is a tough pill to swallow, but, and this is the point, all you can do is focus on the fight back and your own strategy to beat this. And from all that I have learned that has to come from within who you are. I have never once gone down the boo boo, why me rubbish because that simply wastes your time about what you should be focusing on, which is: to hell with that, what do I need to do to beat this and survive?


And that is the key word, survive. Do not let this beat you or take you from this world a day sooner than the good Lord intended. Do not get me wrong, I dont think that I am delusional but I think I’m a realist, so if I chose to accept that the cancer is deep and buried and spreading, then guess what, it will be fulfilling its prophecy. But, as you may have gathered that is not my way. My way has been carved over many years of dedicated training and commitment to what I call the budo way, or the way of the warrior.


My life has been shaped and defined by my 50 years of study of the martial arts. Interestingly, my first experience was when I was 11 years old, and a teacher was offering fencing lessons.

I was drawn immediately to this intriguing skill, after all, skilled fencing had been the bedrock of combat for generations. What fencing with the foil taught me was to be a most excellent grounding for the martial art of Japanese Shotokan Karate Do. Why? Because it taught balance, it taught stance and mobility, and it taught short, sharp, precision, to deliver as they say in Japan the killing blow. One deadly strike to the torso with the sharp edge of the light and sharp tip of the foil was all that was needed.


So, how does this help in this dark battle that I fight 50 years on? The answer is, I believe, simple. The strategy is all important, you need to believe in yourself beyond the fear that gets imposed upon you. You are the master and commander of your own destiny.

Trust me, dear friend, it is a true and real strength that will beat any self negativity. Yes, it will keep trying to get you. It's now on its third mission but my resolve always remains positive. Yes, it will be determined and aggressive but guess what so will I. Karate has taught me so much and after all these years, decades, dare I say, ha, millenniums, I have learned that the positivity of the human spirit is the greatest gift, and trust me it does work.


So, I make no apologies for being human. I’m allowed to have moments of weakness and doubt. It is our prerogative. The thing is, my dear friends, it's what you chose to do about it that counts. And I will always, while there is breath in this body, always advocate and attempt to live by my mantra, of never give up, never give in.




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