Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Keep on Keepin' On

"Relatively low survival rates for lung cancer mean that despite high incidence rates there are fewer patients alive who have been diagnosed with lung cancer relative to the other major cancers". A quote from the Cancer Research UK website, which discusses a new report they commissioned on the importance that lifestyle plays in whether you develop cancer or not. Sobering reading, as ever, although I take cheer from the fact that the long-term survival figures for lung cancer only went up to 2006 and 2008. I hope that for people like myself, those figures have changed as the new targeted drugs have been introduced. Why do I hope? Because I need the encouragement. I need the belief that lung cancer is not just a one-way ticket to the Big Sleep. I need the role models, the people out there, still alive. The people who still have the occasional tipple or iced bun, that say "This is how I will live my life, how I will fight the demon inside me". My lead oncologist is a glass-half-empty person in her assessments, but I guess that you would be, wouldn't you, if you had to go to work every day doing what she does. But...

...Attending the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation's advocate's conference in Manchester recently I met and saw numerous examples of people still here, still carrying on the good fight. To quote the movie "The Road": Carrying the Flame. But what makes some people live, some die? Is it luck, determination? In my own case I see it more as good luck and timing, tempered with a stupid inability to realise the seriousness of the situation. I plod along from day to day, trying not to think about the bigger picture. When things change in my health I see it/them as the next in a row of challenges to face, to do my best at dealing with and hopefully beat. But if it doesn't work out like that, let's take it as it comes. All you can do is to do your best.

Another day, another Wainwright, something to be thankful for.
Recently I've been reading a book that my father bought me, entitled "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why" by Laurence Gonzales. A catchy title maybe not, but an interesting read as it seeks to rationalise why people live in survival situations and why, to put it simply, others don't. Analysing anything from fighter pilots crashing to mountaineers making the wrong decision, it seeks to outline the mental states which people can utilise to survive when the brown stuff hits the fan. Over the next few blogs I'll try to distill some of it down into readable chunks, but for now here's the concluding paragraph from a list of twelve key factors which have been shown to help survivors, which I felt was pertinent food for thought:

12. Never Give Up (Let Nothing Break Your Spirit)
Survivors are not easily frustrated. They are not discouraged by setbacks. They accept that the environment (or their business climate or their health) is constantly changing. They pick themselves up and start the entire process over again, breaking it down into manageable bits. Survivors always have a clear reason for going on. They keep their spirits up by developing an alternate world made up of rich memories to which they can escape. They mine their memory for whatever can keep them occupied. They come to embrace the world in which they find themselves and see opportunity in adversity. In the aftermath, survivors learn from and are grateful for the experiences they've had.

Rich memories. A place that I return to when the need arises...

Wet AND dirty - perfect! Purdey clocks up another Ennerdale peak
I would never want to be grateful for having cancer or some of the experiences I've had, but as I mentioned in my last blog you do get to see people at their best and worst – and maybe that is an experience worth experiencing...


  1. Hi jonathon, not ashamed to say I'm going to be a stalker of your blog! ( hence commenting so soon after you publish it, ha ha!!)It's great to see you writing regularly again. I truly admire your choice of topic and that you're pondering such things, it's amazing how powerful our outlook and attitude can be in influencing how the mind and body copes with threat and adversity and you are demonstrating that beautifully. Hoping that as time goes on, that you actually become even stronger within yourself, regardless of what comes next. Love to u and nai, Caroline xxxxxx

  2. Thanks Caroline for the wonderful comment, thanks for reading.

  3. It IS an experience worth experiencing. Quote "I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life" - Walden. We are both living and learning and are blessed with perspective and being humbled about what is important. To quote you in this blog... Never give up... To quote me singing (with the most amazing voice?! :-) )... Keep your head up, keep your heart strong. LOVE, love, LOVE you darling xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Life really can throw us some situations that we need to experience...and this is yours. I am just so glad that you let us all in for a momentary glimpse of what it is like to have to experience Cancer. Thanks for your courage and honesty and I hope we see many more posts as I definitely missed them over the summer. Leah x