Yesterday, on Thursday 16th August 2018, I received the long awaited news that I was officially cancer free.
After a year of treatment and 5 years of subsequent scans, I officially hit the 5 year mark meaning that the risk of the disease returning is minimal.
I couldn’t and I can’t quite believe it…
I’m going to have a go at breaking down some of my thoughts and feelings after receiving this amazing news; so here goes!
The Beginning of the Journey
It’s hard to explain why hitting this milestone is so important and it’s also tricky to try and describe the emotions that one feels when you get that positive news.
However, the sense of relief I experienced yesterday was something that – at the very beginning of this journey – I could only dream of.
When first diagnosed with cancer, I was swamped with a sense of dread and that impending sense of doom. The sense that my time was running out…
At 17 years of age, with so many things yet to discover and achieve, my focus shifted entirely towards survival. My mindset being that I had to weather the storm, in order to come out the other side and have a chance to realise my dreams.
So, the fact that I just hit this 5 year milestone is massive for me. As it would be for any other cancer survivor, because 5 years prior, I wasn’t sure if I would even be here.
The Struggle of Cancer
The sad thing is, is that we will all know someone who has endured some sort of treatment for cancer. Whether or not their treatment has been successful, the process is always hard and the struggle is real.
In a sense I was lucky, as I only had to have around 6-8 months worth of treatment. Whereas, other people are on treatment for years or for life…
However, those 6-8 months were far from straight forward and obstacle upon obstacle always crept up. Whether it be infections, sickness, joint damage, nerve damage, depression, anxiety, fear of death or pure frustration.
The year that I was having treatment was the worst year of my life in one sense, because there were very few moments that I wasn’t hurting in some sort of way.
Emotionally or physically there was always some hurt, heartbreak or resentment at what was going on.
However, whilst this was one of the worst years, it was also one of the best. The reason being is that 2013 taught me so much about myself, about life and the importance of healthy living.
Looking back upon it now, I can realise and appreciate just how much I overcame.
I can also realise that I handled the situation as best as I could at the time…
Although there are things I’d do differently if I could go back, I have to appreciate that however things went, I’m here now, alive and healthy and that’s all that matters.
Looking back, it was one hell of a ride, but one that I think ended up changing my life for the better.
The Realisation of It All
Upon the news of being “all clear”, I suddenly realised how lucky I am.
It’s something that I’ve forgotten over time as life has returned to a relative level of normality.
Of course, the worries of cancer – once you’ve had it before – are always in the back of your mind. But eventually, life goes on as normal as possible.
Being back in the hospital where I had all my treatment and seeing children going through the same brutal regime that I went through, I had to step back for a moment.
I had to step back and realise that “Wow. I am so lucky!”…
The Reality of “Lucky”
We’re all guilty of getting caught up in our day-to-day lives. We hold on to pointless grudges and we can often be guilty of making a drama out of nothing.
The reality is that whilst we complain about “nothing” theres some little kid out there, fighting to survive and going through all kinds of hell, who isn’t complaining…
Although, they have more right than most to be complaining about what they’ve having to endure!!!
That for me really is the image that I have to go back to in my mind when I’m being an idiot and am feeling sorry for myself.
When work’s quiet, when I get laughed at by someone or when I am just being a grumpy little bastard, I have to remind myself of how lucky I am.
Also, having been in a children’s cancer ward, I can flashback to several pictures in my mind. Seeing and re-visiting these moments in my head helps me to kick myself into gear and push on.
I realise my luck and my blessings.
The Future – Guilt & Privilege
As my journey comes to an end – in one sense – I feel both privileged and guilty.
I feel privileged for obvious reasons, that I’m here, I’m alive, I’m well and I’m doing what I love.
However, I can’t help but feel guilty. Guilty knowing that I’ve got this second shot at life whilst others don’t…
Those other people being some who I knew, in particular my Dad and Andy, as well as all those who I didn’t know personally but who were denied that chance.
I don’t want people to tell me that “you shouldn’t feel guilty”.
However, what I will do and pledge to do, is live my life to its fullest in honour of all those that couldn’t.
It’s not something to make me come across as some really selfless and moral guy, it’s simply something that I feel is the right thing to do.
To me, it’s the best way that I can honour the memories of those people who didn’t get the chance that I have today.
As my life goes on and as my gratitude for being here grows on a daily basis, I want to make sure I’m making the most of this second chance.
I will continue to work hard and focus on both my physical and mental health, so that I can make the most of this opportunity.
I will continue to write and talk about my experiences of cancer – both good and bad.
It’s been prominent for at least half of my life, with it taking my dad and then trying to recruit me a few years later too.
So, I won’t never talk about it again…
However, I think now that I can finally say that I “used” to have cancer, I will be able to talk about it from a new perspective and hopefully be able to help others through their own journeys with it.
I can confidently say too, that I’ll live the rest of my life with a real emphasis on health and doing the right thing. If this disease has taught me anything, it’s that “your health is your wealth” and that the best thing that we can do in life, is the right thing.
As my life goes on and I enter this next chapter of my life, I’ve got a few things and projects to look forward to.
As always, support from all of my readers is appreciated and I’d love for you all to be involved – in some capacity – with the projects that I’ve got waiting in the pipe-line:
- tylerwhite.blog ~ I will be sticking to my regular postings, aiming for 2 posts a week.
- Coaching & PT @ A.R.D. Training Camp ~ I will continue to coach at A.R.D. Training Camp, where I’m always looking to work with new individuals who want to learn the arts of boxing/kickboxing.
- Social Media Management ~ Helping small businesses manage their social media profiles and accounts. In particular, helping to create quality written content for them.
- ringsidereport.com ~ I am still working with RSR, posting 2 times a week on there.
- British Boxing Talk Podcast ~ I am working on a podcast with a few friends of mine which is soon to be released (7th September 2018 = first episode).
- Boxing/Kickboxing ~ I am looking to compete again as soon as possible and once my arm has fully recovered. I plan on getting back into the mix and working towards winning titles.
- Cancer Mentoring ~ A new idea that I’ve had, literally over the past couple of days, is mentoring people with cancer. Helping them to get through the treatment (in a mental capacity) and then helping them take control of their health through exercise. This is only an idea and is and always will be, totally FREE to anyone who would be interested, but I believe I’m in a position to help and to give back!
Many thanks for reading and please get in touch if anything in the list above could help you out!
Tyler – officially cancer free.
P.S. It feels wicked!