Since my diagnosis I have become very good at 'reading' people when I meet them and they find out about my illness. I try to imagine how I would have felt if the situation was in reverse and in all honesty, if it was someone I knew well, I would be a little uncomfortable and unsure how to handle it. So I am very fortunate that virtually all my friends and family have treated me exactly the same as before, which is what I would have wanted.
I was invited on the stag party of a very good friend yesterday and a lot of my oldest friends were there. Some of them I have known since junior school, some from high school and others from a mutual fondness of pubs/clubbing etc in our younger years.
Its fair to say that we don't get out as much nowadays due to family commitments, work etc. But as soon as we meet up, the dynamic amongst our group is identical to the way it was 20 years ago. Of course there is sympathy for my plight, but as one of my friends pointed out last night, most of us have experienced hard knocks at some point now we are approaching middle age, but we always manage to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and carry on.
That is the reality of the situation and thats how I try to approach my illness: realistically. I am under no illusions, 18 months ago I was told I had an incurable cancer and I would be lucky to reach double figures in terms of life expectancy. So, statistically speaking, as I am now 18 months down the line I can expect another 8.5 years if I do well. I'll take that if the next 8 years are as good as the last year!
I appreciate everything I do now so much more than before. I suppose it is because I am constantly aware of the fact that if things had gone slightly differently then there is a very good chance that I wouldn't be here now. I have had a fantastic week this week, yet my perception of it before my illness would have been totally different, it would have been a 'normal' week. I have played tennis a few times, worked with my clients in the gym and joined friends for dinner. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it felt special to me.
If any of you have seen the movie Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty, thats how I feel. Everything I experience now is a bonus that I was so close to not having the opportunity to experience. Although in the movie he came back as a millionaire so that would be another nice bonus!
Anyway, I am not building up to some profound final statement in todays blog, I am just saying that it is unfortunate that life has become so hectic nowadays that its sometimes hard to keep hold of the bonds we spent decades building. After all, when we break it all down, friends and family are what it's all about right?