Four Years On From Cancer
I gently kissed my daughter (who had crept into our bed in the early hours of the morning); strategically placed a plethora of pillows around the extremities of the bed to avoid her ‘roll off’; and glanced across to my sleeping wife, not daring to steal a kiss – as a husband and father well aware that one must never jeopardise the sleep of a mother… As I crept out of the bedroom this morning I caught the soft creeping sunlight that precedes sunrise, the type of natural light that softens the blow to any lack of sleep the night prior.
Four years ago today I woke to a very different light. As my eyes adjusted to the assault of the bright lights in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), so too did my mind to the enormity of the moment, and the road to recovery ahead. I’d known my threshold for physical pain to be high, so had not given the notion of physically removing 15 odd centimetres of my colon much thought. Within those 15cm had been an obtrusive and cancerous tumour.
As my body adjusted to the surgery over the following week in ICU I embodied the immensity of the operation and began to understood the benefits of my integrative medical approach : defined below by the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association:
The term Integrative Medicine refers to the blending of conventional and natural/complementary medicines and/or therapies along with lifestyle interventions and a holistic approach – taking into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of the person – with the aim of using the most appropriate, safe and evidence-based modalities available.
The blending of each approach seemed to often be an hourly exercise. Day two in ICU and my epidural slipped out, unbeknownst to everyone, so I spent the following 24 hours without pain meds after having my stomach cut vertically from belly button to pubic bone. Had I not had a deep spiritual practice and emotional stability (and some good humour from my family!) then those 24 hours would have been a lot rougher…
Four years on now and I often reflect on my time in that hospital. The struggle to walk 30m down the hallway and soak up some rays of sunlight through a window; the challenge to only be allowed 30ml of water during the first couple of days; or the enormity of having only 30 days post-op to get myself strong enough to welcome my first born daughter into the world.