Sunday, 28 December 2014

Latest results

'Hope you have all had a lovely Christmas. 

It is 3.00am, I can not sleep, this is about the 7th night of broken sleep. Sadly it looks like my cancer as come back for now the third time.

I found out a couple of days before Christmas, my tumour count in my blood as gone from 20 something (under 30 is normal) to 230 something. It is not fear or stress why I can not sleep, but more to do with the pain in my right hand shoulder which seems to of been building up now for a few weeks. According to the doctor this is probably be referred pain from the liver. I am having a CT scan tomorrow (today) to see where I stand. I am talking a lot of pain killers and sleeping tablets,  they don't seem to be working.

I have only told a few, it seemed wrong to say sprinkled with the words Merry Christmas, so I thought I would wait for Happy New Year instead :) 

So at I go from Facebook, to BBC, to Twitter back to Facebook. Please can you all start posting at around these times as its a quite time.

I have recently been interviewed for a campaign for Pancreatic Cancer Action, I was asked, "what is your New Years wish". Before I found out about the cancer coming back. I felt I was slightly getting my life back in some order, I had gone back to the gym and slowly normality began. All is going well with Market Wraps, so my new year wish was to carry on the journey. I must admit this news does seem to have knocked me off my perch.

If it has come back, and it's looking highly likely, then I also have go get my head around the outcome. It is now the third time I have had cancer so things should be easer to understand. 


That's the hard part to get my head around right now. The next few weeks will tell me where I stand and what I can do about it. I should get the results back from the scan soon. 

Sometimes in my blog I write to enjoy. I write for therapy, I write just to update. I guess this blog item is to categorise. To place in some order.  Reading what I have wrote the one thing I should do, and can do is get back on the perch again. I had quite a few plans ready for the new year, of course there is nothing I can do about the fact that those plans will now be challenged. But at the same time, it also doesn't mean that I can not challenge them from not happening.

Sorry about the bad news, I am hoping that it will be not that bad, and I will put in the blog as soon as I find out. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Happy Pancreatic Cancer Day!

How do you feel about cancer....

I was not sure how to answer the question.  I was interviewed by Radio Aire (regional radio) last night and this is played throughout the day on the news, which is great for the awareness but I must admit I feel a little downgraded from last year as I was on the TV :) but when asked 2 questions on how I feel, I went silent.

Today is Pancreatic Cancer Day (13th November) it is the first time that Pancreatic Cancer UK have held this day, and they have
 worked with 30 other organisation in the world to create this day, and bring more awareness to this cancer.

So Happy Pancreatic Cancer Day! OK, I won't be pulling a party popper just yet, but this cancer certainly needs more funding and awareness.

It truly is needed as the stats have not changed in the past 40 years. Pancreatic Cancer is become the 5th most common cause of all cancers deaths in the UK.

I have decided to put a blog item to do my small bit towards this day, and hope that my small donation my create a bit of awareness.

The reason why I went so silent at the question, how do I feel about cancer is I am not sure how I feel any more, there is so much that as happened that when it comes to feelings, to put it simply, sometimes I just don't, and then there are other times I can be over emotional and feel too much.

In my blogs I write about 'my situation' and never really spell it out, there is reason behind this and the reason is, at times I find it hard to face 'my situation' that I am in, so for the sake of the campaign I want to share about it on the blog.

September 2011 I was told I had Pancreatic Cancer after going a strange yellow colour, itching, having back pain, and my stool looking like I have had a diet of kabbabs. I was then told that only 10% can be operated, I was lucky, I was one of the 10%. I was then told that even with the lucky 10% the chances are (80%) that it will come back within the next couple of years.

It did come back, it came back to my liver. I sat with my oncologist as he told me that there was nothing they could do about it.

No one said the word terminal, I am not sure if that is normal. We walked away to get ready to tell the family.

Rob, my partner found on the PCUK website some new treatment called Nanoknife, this treatment cooked the tumour, and I could only have this done privately, yet again, with luck, with my work I have healthcare. When I asked my oncolgist about this, he said he had not heard of the treatment. I got the impression not to get too excited about it. Nanoknife was not covered on my healthcare and the 10,000 pound a night hostpial to have the proceedure wasnt too, but after meeting the professor that did the treatment, he said that his team could do a simalar treament in another hospital where the insurance could pay for this.

It worked, the tumour was killed, and with that and a very rough 6 months of chemo my tumour blood count went down from 200s to 18.

I now have a CT scan every 3 months, my oncolgist can not advice me because he as never been in this stiuation before. I can not tell you what my nerves are like that day! but that is now what i call, 'my situation'

I am now back at work, back pushing my business, and back in the gym. I had an email from a lady that I have been in contact with via emails and this blog, (I hope she doesnt mind me putting this in) - she puts (in a more eloquent way than I have put, about how it all can effect how you feel).

"You probably are familiar with the theory of learned helplessness.  It grew out of some unfortunate, cruel animal experiments in the 1960's.  When dogs, or people for that matter, come to feel that they have no control over their situation, when bad things repeatedly happen to them and they cannot escape or avoid these things,  they eventually just stop trying to escape the bad shocks.  And once a window or doorway is opened for them to escape, they do not run.  Depression, anxiety, phobias, and feelings of isolation, etc., can most definitely be exacerbated by learned helplessness.  I have come to believe that this disease, PC, and all its dire outlooks and scary testing, hair loss, set-backs, pain, and all the rest can lead (me, at least) to a place of learned helplessness.  There are many other real world examples of this involving humans.

The thing is, Carl, since I have read your blogs I have felt less helpless, less alone, less afraid.  I have recognized that in the face of this cruddy situation I should do more, try harder, celebrate more often.  It is not easy, the way you have chosen to deal with this, but it is wonderful!  You have seen the humor, learned and documented the lessons, and worked, while enjoying Market Wraps.  So what if it has thrown you for a bit of a loop this round?  You won!  I am so charmed by your looking forward to looking forward again.  Thank you."

I must admit, the email did my ego some good! but its true, with the trauma of chemo, with the changes of the massive operations, with the changes of phycology of yourself and then of others and how they react towards you, this all as a massive effect on how you feel, and then I guess, who you become.

Cancer as played with the way I look in the past 2 years I have had more new looks!

 and as i am now:

The last picture as nothing to do with cancer, its more sadly due to genetics, but at least it proves, whatever cancer throws at me that changes me physically, I have had it worse! and I can deal with it.

With all the changes that cancer can bring, not just physical, but mental, you do get to a point where you are not sure who you are, or who you have become. With all the changes it can make you become 'helpless'.

I find it impossible to ignore 'my situation' but, personally that’s how I try and become less helpless. By getting on with it, and do you very best to brush yourself down and get back up again.

So, yet again, Happy Pancreatic Day! I really hope that it does create more awareness, gets better statistics, and gets more funding.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

CT Scan results

I have not wrote in my blog for quite a while now, I knew my CT scan was coming up, and I did not want to talk or write about it until now. I have had some message from friends that I have met via these blog post asking how I am, and why am I not writing the next artical, (especially you Nan, from sunny California) I'm sorry, I have just needed to see where I stand with everything.

It was my three month CT scan results today and all is OK. One part of me cannot believe it was only three months ago from the last one, but the other part of me feels like 30 years have passed.

A radiologist did not see the scan, but my oncologist said, looking at the scans all looks ok, and nothing looks sinister. I also had my bloods tested, the tumour count as risen slightly (from 13 to 18) but still all is in the safe zone.

The scan was taken 3 weeks ago, waiting for the results has challenged us to say the least.  To put it bluntly, I lost the plot in the three weeks of waiting.  Without the experience I have had, I would of thought that each scan would become easer, but for me it just becomes harder.

The anxiety was unbearable. In the past three weeks I have become introvert.  Sleep as been minimal. Plans have been put on pause. I know how I should be viewing this period, I should look at it with some form of zen approach . If I only could take a more spiritual outlook, then none of the doctors findings would be important, I could categorise it as a unknown journey. I am still working on this higher viewpoint, and to be very honest about it, how I should be feeling and how I am feeling are in very different areas right now. Last night I went for a drive, one minute I was ok, the next minute uncontrollable sobbing (Diesel is so expensive these days ;))

I guess we create anxiety for a reason, maybe parts of the brain is temporary shutting down, while other areas make up for this and go into over a drive. This is to give the ability to cope, I guess, flight or flight. I am not sure which one I was doing. I know I was walking around with a bewildered look on my face, almost like I have witnessed a bad accident. I also start yawning at this point, as stress always has had this effect, sadly if I get told something tragic, and I just looked bored at the news.
Both Rob and myself walked back into the hospital today, the memories came crushing down. A knowing glance between us, we both have not been to the hospital for a bit and for myself it seemed to surprise me. All the stimulants to make the hospital more pleasurable, the art work, the gentleman playing the piano in the forum, reminds me of why those stimulants are there in the first place, when the reality is for most of the people in this ward, it's not pleasurable at all.  The people walking around the atrium area, pulling there connected drip, some looking ill and frail. I look, smile, and give a respectable nod with my eyes. Even though you haven't been to the club for a long time doesn't mean you ever forget about your membership.

The anxiety I had collected in the past three weeks was all around me and Rob for everyone to see, A an elderly woman in the waiting room came up to us before she left and said good luck, and you will be in my prays. My doctor waved me in, as we walked down the corridor I asked "How are you"?, He smiled and replied  "I am good, and so are you." - three weeks of collective anxiety started to lift.

I know and I understand the situation I am in, but I will always challenge it, as much as it will always challenge me, but for today, I won, and with that, the pause button, thank God, changes back to play.

For the past three weeks, I have imagined the good news, but at the same time not sure if that was just a foolish game, and should I replay a more negative outlook as then if it is then maybe the shock would be less painful.  

When I was telling one of the doctors about my plans, and then saying but it all relied on the results, she said, why? Do it anyway, whatever the results are, I agree with her, but yet again, I'm still working on this more zen approach.

We both left the hospital, Rob went to work, I went to get ready for the weekends market, and life strangely goes on.

All the plans that I have had on held I am now able to push forward again. I am so please to.

So, first we have a new logo for the businesss (Thanks Nick) and I am re-launching with a new look for the stall, The joiner is working on this now, for those that follow this blog, or know me, will not be surprised about this due to having a re-launch most weeks!

The Market Wrap kitchen is now done, and set up. It is so much better having the kitchen, which means we are able to do more, I love it.

*must now change old logo!

 We have started selling The Market Wrap BBQ sauces separately. In November we will be working with a company that distributes luxury food via its monthly hampers and our Lousiana sauce will be featured in the hamper and we will be in there promotional magazine. Links going back to the market wrap website will have on-line videos advertising what can be done with our Louisiana sauce.

This is what will be going into the magazine.

The website will have a new look, and will be promoting the new delivery service that will be starting in the next few weeks. We will be delivering around the Leeds area, and will be pushing this via social networks and Just-eat. (still a hell of a lot of work to do on this!)

It has been challenging the past few weeks, but I am looking forward to looking forward again. 


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Robin Williams

At the age of 63, actor and comedian Robin Williams has died. The verdict was suicide.  In the press it was first speculated that is due to money problems, and then depression (which seems to state the obvious) it was then reported he was diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's disease, this was not publicly known.

This made me think not so much about the physical aspects to a disease, but the mental view point. For me, this blog help me translate my feelings and emotions and once written down I can then categorise and put in some form of order.

When I left hospital after the operation, I was advised to have counseling to deal with the situation that I had a 80% chance that the cancer may come back, and if it did they would not be able to do anything about it. The nurse explained, when in hospital and getting told about having a disease, it is easier to cope with in the hospital environment due to the many distractions happening around the patient. It is not until vacating and the patient become the person again that they have time to think about things and then they have to deal with the changes within there life.

In the first counseling session I had to sign a contract to say if I talked about suicide with the councilor, they would  have to report this to the doctors.  I do understand why this is the case, this is not only for the care of the patient but also to protect the councilor too.

I think most people that have to face a disease that may limit your life or a disease that may dramatically change your lifestyle, myself included, may pull the suicide card out of the pack that represents the freedom of choice.

Don't get me wrong, for me and for most that card went into the, not an option pile, but still, the card was there.

Only Robin Williams knows what was going through his mind at the last moments of his life, it was obviously such a dark place, he, at that moment in time, just could not see anyway out. I know Parkinson's disease and Pancreatic cancer are very different beasts but I study that keeping a positive and optimistic mind on any disease is the answer? This is not an easy concept, and as I am writing this, there is a tug of war between my own thoughts.  How do you keep optimistic about facing a life limiting disease or a disease that makes you excessively disabled? You know, for me, some days, I simply feel rubbish, and by visualising a clown like face forcing "a positive and optimistic mind' onto myself would just want me to punch the clown!  But, on-balance, by admitting and allowing that some days you won't be optimistic or feel optimistic, allows and frees the days that you do.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Response from Mr Nick Clegg

Last month i wrote a public letter to my MP, Mr Hillary Benn regarding attending a debate at parliament on pancreatic cancer. I have not got a response from Mr Benn, but a friend (Lisa) also sent a email to Mr Nick Clegg and had a response, thank you very much for spending time and sending this Lisa, and for Mr Lord Clifton been involved in the APPG group, and for Mr Clegg's response.

This was Mr Clegg's response:

Thank you for your letter regarding pancreatic cancer, and I am sorry to hear about how it has affected people that you know. 

Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the debate on the 8th September due to other commitments, but I support the work that Pancreatic Cancer UK, as well as other charities, does to raise awareness about this type of cancer. 

Additionally, my Liberal Democrat colleague Lord Clifton is a member of the APPG group, and he will be working within Parliament to make sure this serious issue gets the attention it deserves. Thank you again for your letter, and I wish Carl Denning the best of luck in his fight against pancreatic cancer.

If you wish to discuss this issue in person please contact my office on 0114 2309002 to set up a meeting.

Yours sincerely,
Nick Clegg MP

I am still in hope that Mr Benn will be involved on the 8th September, and if I do get a reply will be puting the response on this blog.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A letter to Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP

Dear Mr Benn,
As a member of your constituency, I am writing to you to ask you to attend an important debate on 8th September 2014 that could literally change lives of patients and families affected by pancreatic cancer.  With just a three per cent survival rate, diagnosis of this disease leaves patients and families with little hope of a happy outcome.
I have wrote this very personal and public email to ask for your help Mr Benn. Personal, because at the age of 38 I was told that I have pancreatic cancer, and public, because it may encourage other MPs like yourself to also help. This is almost 2 years ago I was told I have pancreatic cancer, and during that time, I witness what this cancer can do physically and mentally. If you need any more information please read my blog, or call or email or reply below.
I was one of the lucky ones, I was able to be operated (only 10% can), sadly the cancer came back, but after two lots of six months of chemotherapy and help with private healthcare, I am keeping the cancer away to the best of my means. 
The fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK, pancreatic cancer has been little known, poorly understood and chronically underfunded for decades. 
The debate will take place between 4:30pm and 7.30pm in Westminster Hall, and the backbench committee will be discussing providing more funding and awareness for pancreatic cancer, which is set to become the UK’s fourth biggest cancer killer by 2030.
This follows a successful petition, which passed the 100,000 signature mark in April, started by Maggie Watts.
Maggie from Scunthorpe started the petition following the death of her husband Kevin, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009 aged 48, 40 years after his mother died of the same illness.  In the 40 years between Kevin and his mother’s death, the five year survival rate of just 3% has not changed. 
The need for this debate is even more urgent following a question posed by Luciana Berger, Public Health Shadow Minister on 31st March, which highlighted a decrease in overall cancer funding of almost £19 million between 2012 and 2013.  Considering pancreatic cancer already receives a tiny proportion of cancer research funding, less than 1%, the impact of this on future pancreatic cancer research is alarming. 
At just three per cent, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all 22 common cancers.  In comparison, 85% of breast cancer patients and 81% of prostate cancer patients will still be alive five years after diagnosis. In fact,pancreatic cancer has one of the highest incident-to-mortality rates of almost ANY disease.
The UK lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of the one-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer.  The UK average is 17 per cent, the European average is 21 per cent and the best in Europe (Belgium) is 28 per cent. 
Please help to change outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients now and the future by attending the debate.  We need as many MPs to come forward and participate in the debate. If you are considering attending, please contact Mr Nic Dakin MP via email:
Please could you also consider getting involved in the APPG Inquiry on Pancreatic Cancer Research where along with your parliamentary colleagues you can help support the inquiry into pancreatic cancer research? 
I would be happy to talk to you about this further either over the phone or in person. 
I look forward to your response and thank you in advance. 
Kindest regards,

Carl Denning

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Street dancing fairy

Well i did it! I booked what i thought was a gig, and in preparation for this, I learnt some new material, and made my way to the talent competion where the prize was two and a half grand.

It was a 'talent competion', now, when i turned up at the hotel where the audition was held, every bone in my body was just turn around and walk away, but for some strange reason i felt I had to do it due to it been booked in.

I knew it was not going to work, as soon as i joined the queue of two. There was a girl in her early 20s dressed as a fairy, when i asked what she was doing, she told me street dancing!  I am not sure what street she was living on, her look was a cross between rainbow bright and someone on smack. 

I was asked what my act was (disappearing went though my head) I told them i was trying to do a bit of comedy.  The lady (who i think was the girls mother) told me that on hospital visits to her friend she had been told she always made the ward laugh, and with that started to do a improvised routine for me, I must admit, it was better than mine, and it did cross my mind to simply steel her act.

The street dancing fairy went in to the large room.  I was asked to fill out some papers. The guy who gave me the documents told me that out of the 40 people in the auction i was the only comedian. I wish i had thought about this for longer than two seconds to realise that there was a very good reason for this. 

He told me that he loved Mrs Browns Boys (yet another sign to run for the hills) he lead me to a old Victorian ballroom, and introduced me to the table of judges all wearing there matching branded talent competion t.shirts.

It was my turn.

Just by looking at the judges I could tell we all didn't have much in common, the only common bond between us all was that at the end of the audition, we all probably could say that we had all experienced a strange experience, but for different reasons.

There was a young child sat at the table. When i get nervous when doing comedy, i swear, and i don't mean to provoke offence but sometimes it does give the joke more drama and makes the punchline more puncher, but I know it was probably not the right thing to do in front of a child. I explained that they maybe some swearing in my act, which i got told that if i get through to the shows, that children will be present so i wont be able to do that.

I can not tell you what happened next, its all a bit of a blur.  Its hard performing comedy to a wall of silence, but its even harder performing to a wall of people looking traumatised.

I knew when the main organiser put her head in her hands, the one legged dwaf joke had not gone down that well. The more horrified they looked, the more nervous I got, the more nervous I got, the more outrageous I became. They thanked me, and said they will call on wednesday to let me know either way, and just before they quickly showed me the door, I had my photo taken, was not sure if it was to use as publicity or use as evidence.

I have wrote some jokes about cancer, and i did think at this point, i should drop them in, if they didn't find them funny I may get the sympathy vote at least, but at the same time I was also thinking that the only one thing that could be worse about the situation i was in, is if they called me this week and said, congratulations you are through! and i would have to re-live it again!

Wednesday as been and gone, and I didn't get a call. Due to them saying that they was going to call me either way, I am slightly concerned there still in the ballroom still frozen in a state of shock.

I walked away wondering if it was me, or if it was the jokes, or if it was them? The only way was to put myself in that situation again, but this time without children and with a audience.

So on Monday I went to Beat the frog, a gong show where the aim is to survive for 5 minutes without getting voted off by the 3 chosen audience members.

The venue was in Preston and was very busy! I went early to see if I could go on first and get the hell out of there, I then found out that the venue choose when you was on, and i was on....

at the very end! 

I did nearly walk out as the acts that where on was very good! and even the ones that was voted off had stronger sets than me.

Sometimes, in social situations my face does not quite work in my favour, but for comedy! it gets me away with murder, and to be fair, I think that is what happened. I survived the 5 min ties and went on to the final, and more importantly, I enjoyed it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Stumbling to the next step

As I am writing this I am miles in the air! No it's not the chemo that is making me trippy again, we are flying back from Rhodes in Greece. It has been great to just get away and relax, when I say relax, I probably don't mean it in the conventional sense, I mean my type of relaxing where the day to day worries get pushed aside making more room for more exciting problems.  Problems that are man-made and purposely put there to challenge yourself, and make life even more worthwhile.

I had to get special holiday insurance, the girl went through the usual questions, it's the same kind of questions that I used to skim-read, and quickly tick a line of boxes with the word "No" next to them, sadly these days it's usually "Yes". A sigh of relief when I get to the question, are you pregnant? A question I can tick No to and reminisce on the good old days! She then asked me "Is they anything I haven't declared and not been diagnosed with yet" having a brain running on chemo, and that type of question, both don't mix well, and I still don't understand, if I haven't been diagnosed yet, then how would I know to declare it! I paid my £30 as she went through a list of terms that I can not claim for on the insurance, and when she eventually reached the end of the T and C's,  I knew I will be able to sleep at night knowing the fact that I will be covered to use my insurance only if absolutely nothing at all medically happens to me.

I am back to work tomorrow! And looking forward to it. Looking forward to seeing everyone at work and having a bit of normality again. Then the day after I get my results from my CT scan. I don't really want to even think about this right now as it does not matter how many times you sit in front of the doctor and how many times he or she as given you good or bad news, nothing makes it any easer each time you go, nothing can prepare you for the amount of anxiety. (Just got back from hospital, there are testing my bloods, but scanning the ct scans - they forgot to do it! - but the doctor said all looks ok) 

Sadly I missed my Mum dong "race for life" on Sunday, with her friends. It's not too late to sponcer! Half of the money is going to PCUK and the other to the race for life funds. (Thanks Mum x)

Since finishing chemo I now don't have a weekly cycle of sickness, this energises me and  I have noticed that there are two types of speed, mine and everyone else. I am nervous I am going to miss out on something so it is like I try living in the  priority queue of life, and I am fast-tracking as much as I can. The things that used to slow me down or stop me, those nagging questions, what happens if I fail, what will people think, will I look stupid, will people judge. Just don't seem substantial reasons to stop me doing what I want to do anymore. What happens if I fail, I fail! What will people think, who cares, will I look stupid, with a face like this how can I look any other way! Will people judge, well that's more about them than me! The only thing that makes me nervous is not having the health to do what I want to do. Insecurities can not stop me, but my health can. 

So, From tomorrow I am back to work as a web developer again Monday to Wednesday and the rest of the week concentration on my street food business. I should be getting the keys for the new kitchen this week, and I am trying to get our pulled pork wraps into shops.

A bit of a shameless plea but if you know anyone with a shop please let them know about our pulled pork wraps! 

Also, I have mentioned in my blogs before about performing stand up comedy. I used to perform amateur comedy. In all fairness I was never going to make my millions in this area, and it was leaning more on the word "amateur" than "comedy". I used to forget my jokes, I then went off subject and forget what I was talking about, and sometimes I went on stage, let nerves get so in the way, I would almost explode!  At the best of times people looked at me thinking that my act was more of an art form, and at the worse of times,  just shit! But.... Still, as I dodged the looks of the puzzled and confused audience, I still enjoyed it, so I have a gig booked in July, there is a reason for all this, but will write about this on my next blog.

The above video may offend by stuttering, bad jokes, and swearing and panicking. 

After everything, why am I putting this pressure on myself? There are moments in all of our life's that we all do things that contradict against what we categorise as "common sense". I know, right now,  that choosing to push the business and expanding and doing just more in general is one of them times especially when the future for me is so uncertain and all the doctors are telling me to rest, take it easy, there is still chemo in your body. But, sometimes there is an underline feeling, a feeling that goes against the grain of rational thinking, and in that feeling, I trust, I am not sure where those actions will lead, but I guess that underline feeling is one of wonder, which is better than dread.