On 23rd September 2017, I rushed my mum to the hospital with what I thought was a stroke. A few hours later and after a couple of scans the consultant came over to explain that my mother had several masses on her brain (tumours) and it was likely that they were secondary cancer.
The consultant was right.
After some more tests, it was established that my mum had metastatic lung cancer that had gone to her bones, liver and brain. This was a terminal diagnosis and her oncologist gave her 6 months at best. I gave up my business to care for my mum as I needed to know that I did everything I could as her son to care for her and to ensure I didn’t have any regrets.
She passed away just 11 weeks later.
Losing my beautiful mother was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. She wasn’t always the best mother but she was my mother and I loved her dearly. I had to keep my shit together for my wife and children but on the inside, I was broken.
In 2018 my health started to become an issue and doctors kept telling me that I was depressed and anxious given I’d lost my mum and my business. However, I knew something more was going on.
4 months later I was rushed for a scan as doctors feared I myself likely had a brain tumour after my symptoms became more and more neurological. Thankfully, I didn’t but it did show some abnormalities that needed further investigation.
So after 5 years; 2 Consultant Neurologists, 1 Consultant Rheumatologist and 3 Professors of Neurology across 3 NHS Health Trusts (Gloucestershire, Oxford and finally University College London) my diagnostic odyssey came to an end.
I was diagnosed with a genetic condition, which affects my upper motor neurones and is a very rare motor neurone disease. Unlike ALS mine is not terminal and will not kill me but it is a progressive disease.
Why am I sharing all this with you? What is the point that I am trying to make?
Basically, each of us has a choice, we always do – when adversity hits us, which it always will, it’s just a matter of when! We need to choose how we respond to it.
We can sit back, play the victim and feel sorry for ourselves and the situation we find ourselves in.
We can accept it, take responsibility for our situation and do everything within our power to make changes to help us improve the situation.
Which one do you think is more empowering?
Now, don’t get me wrong I would 100% rather the adversities I’ve been through never happened but I can’t change them so I, therefore, choose to learn from them.
Many will not get this or will choose to be offended by this but I choose to turn these inherently negative experiences into positive ones.
My mum’s death for instance; I was a heavy smoker at the time with little regard for my health which means that the positive I take from this experience is that it made me aware and made me consider my mortality. I didn’t want my children to go through what I had. I stopped smoking and committed to a lifetime of consistently “trying” to be healthier.
My illness cannot be cured nor treated to prevent it from progressing. However, taking responsibility for it, it empowers me to do everything that I possibly can to help myself and ensure I remain mobile and as healthy as I can. It makes me walk daily, do my physical therapy, and eat the foods that give me energy (most of the time), as opposed to processed crap.
Did I always think like this?
Nope! I have ended up in some dark places over the last few years. At the bottom of way too many bottles of red wine and whiskey.
Eventually, something clicked and I realised I was in a spiral and unless something changed fast I worried about where it would lead me.
I spent time in therapy to accept my condition and my struggles. I also learnt that my condition does not define me as a person. I worked on myself. Committed to my personal growth and development.
Do I always get it right? Nope, not even close.
Some days it can be hard to think of my struggles in a positive light but in those moments I acknowledge the feelings, and the frustrations and cry if that’s what I need in those moments. But afterwards, I pull myself back together and focus on the positives and my goals for the future.
I refuse to live in the past, in the what if’s – I am where I am and my struggles have made me who I am today and that is a better, positive and more grateful person than I was before.
Our experiences on this planet are defined by how we react to them. I choose to find alternate perspectives that are empowering and will help me to grow as a human.
I originally shared this on my Facebook page.
Begin the conversation.