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  • Writer's pictureAustin Birks

Writing Again: Reflections on my Journey with Cancer

So, here I am. It's been a long time, or so it seems, since I last wrote a blog. My world got turned upside down again on February 2nd, when Peter rang me and told me that my cancer was back. Deep inside the scar tissue of my second operation and just for good measure it had popped up again somewhere in my lower stomach lining, whatever that is. Although, for some reason, whenever I think of that I always think of interior designers making curtain liners and blinds?

So, I’m back in the game for the third time and am yet again having chemotherapy. It is a tough but familiar gig. I’ve been here before; indeed, I feel a bit like an old hand at this whole cancer circus.

And as I reflect upon my journey I cannot help but feel a great sense of relief that after everything, I am still here, alive and very much kicking and enjoying the joy of life.

Don’t get me wrong, my self reflection and lack of being able to write have been demons that I have needed to confront, which is maybe why I have been slow to take up the pen, just working my own way through this.

The objective observer, if commenting on my fight with cancer, may well take the view that says, well, fair play, it has attacked twice, he fought back, but guess what, the pesky blighter is back again, surely he can't keep fending this blighter off?

Well, not being funny, but frankly, yes, I am able to fight this off, maybe it is arrogance on my part, although that was never intended. No, it is much more around the principle of believing in my own strength and using that in a physical way, spiritual and emotional sense.

Let me explain if I may. So in March, my wonderful partner, Yvi, suggested that we should raise money for Cancer Research UK by cycling 300 miles and more specifically for me, bowel cancer, after all, I’m an honorary member of the club.

Obviously, a most splendid idea, I thought and so we dived in head first. We both cycle regularly on our static bike on our Zwift circuits, so all would be easy and manageable. Fast forward, no. Frankly, what a massive mistake that was. Crickey! 300 miles is, if honest, a long and painful process. Yes, my backside really hurt, being sat there pedalling for some hours every day is not comfortable, it is not enjoyable.

It is a hard, relentless challenge, but that is ok because the cause is worthy, and the cause is noble, and if your posterior hurts: just suck it up, baby.

Looking back, not sure that the image that my description above worked as I intended, but the point is we got there in the end. And somehow along the way we have raised over 1,500 quid from the enormous and benevolent kindness of so many people who I honestly cannot thank enough.

Reflecting on this month of March: yes, tough. Yes, challenging. Yes, the present chemo regime is brutal, but, I’m good, I am alive I am very fit, and I am emotionally and spiritually strong, and not to put too fine a point on it, what more on earth can you ask for? Life is good, life is rich, and life is also very fragile, so make sure you embrace and cherish it.

As for me, I am a believer in the power of belief and strength, as well as faith. Doing your best to survive is a natural instinct. I have embraced it, as I always will. Why, I hear you ask my dear friends. Well, that is easy. Because the gift of life, and the joy of living is too fragile, and too wonderful to simply surrender. As for me, I will not surrender, no, my ethos is well established: Never Give Up, Never Give In!


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