It is predicted that by the year 2035 that annually 500,000 people in the UK will contract the disease cancer. This means that 8,000,000 more people will have to suffer this awful and potentially life-limiting disease. The consequence to our NHS is one of massive implications that our government needs to ensure that the specialist cancer nursing staff are in place to take on this potential massive increase in diagnosed persons. Cancer is indiscriminate in whom it attacks and consequently fells. It is a disease of a magnitude of a seismic tsunami. Allowed to go unchecked it will cause an epidemic unmatched by any worldly disaster ever noted. Cancer is everyone’s concern it affects everyone and I am not new to this game-changer…
Seven years after been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, I am still standing, I am still punching, and I am still alive. Back in January 2012 as I sat pondering the diagnosis, trying to wrap my head around the fact that everything, as I knew as normal, was going to change forever, little did I know or understand the journey ahead. I wasn’t sure what I was going to look like or how I was going to sound, all I knew was that I was going to be different and I didn’t want to change, after all, I was now aged 54 and I had got used to ‘this me’. Well, the change did come and it was no surprise that the bad days were worse than I could ever imagine. I just had to accept the bad days as they came along I had no choice, however, the advantage was mine, you see as the years passed remarkably I started to win the fight and cancer started losing… Impossible you say, no not impossible, on diagnosis I was given less than a year to live and as I progressed through my illness my consultant could not understand my survival and progress year after year after year and neither could I. I knew things were going to happen “mentally, emotionally and spiritually” along the way but I knew that I had to try and be in control and not let it destroy me and mine. There were many moments that my life felt like a kite dancing in a hurricane and it was at this point that I realised that a person never knows how strong they are until being strong is their only choice.
Life is always changing one has to accept that. We know that we never have things on an even keel all the time and for sure I had to pull myself out of the easy thinking mode if I were to survive the hardest fight of my life. One should be mindful that this life-limiting disease that you are going through will require you to make some serious adjustments in your life and lifestyle. If your lifestyle is somewhat manic and hectic you will find the changes hard to accept and even implement.
Life was cyclic accepting the reality of my situation was not an option and neither was giving up. “I was born to Win” and ‘Never giving up’ became my mantra. The more I feared the disease the more I paid attention to beating it. It’s hard when people continually tell you that you have cancer and you are constantly reminded by friends and family of it directly or indirectly, but my plan was to think positive and be enthusiastic and hope that all would be okay.
At the time of diagnosis by my doctor it felt like the oxygen in the room had been sucked out and as I gasped for air I looked up to the only person/entity that could save my life “The Almighty” and asked in my mind “Why me lord – Why me”. But God was keeping me upright for a reason – He was not going to let me fall until he was truly ready to catch me. Cancer almost destroyed my self-esteem as I tried to be strong in my moment of crisis – I was fighting a male-specific cancer disease and as such found it very hard to talk with my partner about it in the first year of my journey there were many a day that my head never made it out of my hands. On numerous occasions I sat and cried something that I was very unfamiliar with before I started to realise that crying was a bodily function, crying was not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for pain and when I got to the point that I could cope no longer, God took over. Talking to my partner and communicating my feelings to her was paramount, as a caregiver, she told me she was with me in this and that I could count on her. However, most importantly she asked me daily how was I holding up? How could she be useful? She listened to my feelings and concerns and our love grew even more. Over the years I have met and engaged with so many people going through the cancer experience from the UK to the USA to Canada to Africa to The Caribbean emanating from a wide scope and sphere of life each with a different perspective on their journey. I have spoken to varying audiences in my role as a motivational speaker, covering so many ethnicities as I tell and impart my story and its impact on me and mine. Cancer has elevated me above the material world that I so yearned for, it gave me time, time that I have used wisely and considerately.
They say in your lifetime you will face between six-eight traumatic events which cause your life to be re-routed and cause you to say “Now what”. How prepared are we to navigate through these storms – usually not. It’s about turning despair into HOPE.
We don’t need to be perfect to be examples. I just managed the shock, contemplated the future without dwelling on it. Yes, I am a fighter as I repeatedly tell people and when I get floored I always get up again. But this is not all that it takes to beat cancer. Having been knocked down many times I have stood up again each time with a different shiner.
If you are flirting with the idea of giving up ask yourself this question, how long should I continue trying? Because if you give up now you will never know how close you were to succeeding, if you give up now it will seem impossible until it’s done.
For me, I have dared to live beyond the allocated time given but then I came from that background of always daring.
About the Author
Alfred Samuels is aged 61, born in the United Kingdom of Jamaican descent and is educated to a Masters Degree level in The Study of Security Management. Just over seven-and-a-half-years, ago a diagnosis of advanced metastatic prostate cancer stage 4 was handed down to him unexpectedly, untimely and unwontedly. Alfred has written two books, Invincibility in the Face of Prostate Cancer: Coming out the Other Side, and Motivated to Inspire, with the intention to inspire, motivate, uplift and educate people about prostate cancer. In July 2019 Alfred was named Ambassador of the Year at the Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope awards which pay tribute to the extraordinary achievements of volunteers across the UK. Alfred was recently interviewed by The Conference Forum.