Monday, 12 October 2015

A brave new day - Chapter one

I wanted to do something for 'Stand up to cancer', C4 to help collect money for Cancer Research 

Due to getting pancreatic cancer in 2012 and having surgery I am now not in a position to be able to do a sponsored marathon - a dash to the toilet may be a reachable challenge, so instead i have started to write a book.

This is the first chapter and due to it being the first draft, please expect this to be very rough,  it is an ongoing progress, so keep coming back and by magic the spelling mistakes should disappear, also any feedback would be great.

If you can, donate a little change and I may get away with my cheekiness (and if you cant, well don’t worry, by reading the blog gets the charity awareness), so thank you.

I have done a few things for the pancreatic cancer charitys which I will still do, and obviously it is my choice of charity, but I also see the benefits of Cancer Research UK's work.

I don’t want this to be a depressing read and due to asking for a small donation, the last thing you want is to be is depressed after reading, but it is hard to keep it up-beat due to the subject matter, but let me explain one of the reasons why it is a great charity. 

When I see young and younger people in the cancer hospital, it is upsetting. In the hospital last week I saw a young guy with his Mum, he was attached to a bag of chemo, and the way he looked at his Mum was one of reassurance for her.

I am in my forties and having cancer and the experience of the treatment has made me “grow up” (a little!).  So to have an idea of what someone is going through, and especially someone so young, recognising a facial expression and how this experience is effecting them is heartbreaking, but at the same time you can see their strength, now thats inspiration! In the hospital waiting for a scan was a baby. The staff were using some kind of breathing apparatus to manually help the baby breath, it was unsetting to see this, so I don’t know how the parents and family deal with it.

Every penny is a small step closer for the young and not so young not to go through this, - I promise I will do my best to try and keep this book as upbeat as i can, but at the same time, there is a serous side, and I know that, so I hope i also don’t offend by taking the lighthearted approach. 

When you see a picture of a frail looking girl on Facebook, with no hair, dressed in a gown, holding up a piece of paper saying, "10,000 Likes will get rid of my cancer" I'm sorry to say, its not true! its a lie, by liking that picture it will not save her life, by liking, Facebook does not give a dollar for her cancer drugs. It would be great if life was that simple.  If you are one of those people that have liked one of those posts, well don't worry, Im one of those people that said no to chemo, all i need is a large a1 sheet of paper and a black felt-tip, we all learn, sadly the only way we can all beat this terrible disease is hope that one day the professionals like cancer research will one day find the answer, and what we can do is help them do that.

I really hope you enjoy.

Chapter One
Hello, my name is Carl...

So, what is the point of you reading this book and me even writing it! well, in all honestly, I am still working on that one. I can tell you what I want it to be is a spiritual journey, about a 38 year old man dealing with getting pancreatic cancer  what he as learnt, and to pass those lessons to the readers, but the truth is, I still haven't worked out what lessons I have to learn from all this. 

There is something called “Chemo Brain” this is where chemo effects the way you think, the doctors have no proof it exists, they question if it is just down to stress. I may have no scientific proof that it exists, but believe me, I demonstrate its effects most of the time I'm awake, if you want proof then you find me walking around the high street wearing nothing but a rain coat, asking shoppers if they have seen my pigeon, this is not down to stress.

If you are looking for an inspiration cancer book then go buy Jade Goody or the nice lady off the OXO advert, as this book may not be for you, but if your looking for a book to read which is covered in spelling mistakes, terrible grammar, and not very politically correct about the situation i am now in, and want to come with me to try and find out what the hell I am suppose to learn from all this, then come with me, what is there to lose?

Money?  if published this will be in poundshop, so at least you haven't spent much. Time? I will write this, but i will make the font a little bigger just so it fills the whole of the five pages i have written.

If this is not going to be a tale of how i have dealt with pancreatic cancer at 38, then what the hell is it going to be about,I have never read a cancer book before, but is it just me the description of "Cancer Book" doesn't really make you want to run to WH Smiths.

I was thinking about writing a ‘Eat a carrot and cure cancer!' book,  I'm still thinking about it, if chapter two is a recipe that includes carrot and coriander soup, then you know i have changed my mind. 

I feel having the experience I have had from all of this, everything from been told I have pancreatic cancer to the effects after the event, my lessons in life should be in abundance and have an inspiration quality, and ones which I should be able to pass on to others, but right now i need a notebook to write important information for me to remember, like my own name. 

This book is going to be a journal of a journey. I am going to try and put the recently cancer experience I have recently had and try and put some context into this, and look for what i have learnt, to find this I am going to leave it to fate to take me to places where it may have the answers, and put myself into situations that i wold not usually put myself in. 

If you have got to this point, I'm guessing you have paid up, so now to bring the contract out, if yourself and myself haven't learnt anything by the end then, lets just call it, "Experimental" and move on, but after everything that has happened in the past 3 years, what have I learnt, my mind just goes blank, so the point is the book is to find the answer to that and to put myself in situations to find that answer.

I know its hard to believe but having cancer is not all about the glamour, I feel there are certain things that one should not share, this is one of those things. 

I didn't make the toilet in the supermarket last week, this as happened a couple of time. After asking the assistant where the toilet was and I running up 2 escalators and just before I walked into the toilet, I was free flowing, the only bonus I was in Marks and Spencer’s, which is just next door to Primark, where I could go and buy some cheap clothes,  and where I was probably not the only one walking around stinking of piss. 

I did go and try and dry myself in the toilets of Marks and Spencer, but I have never been so disappointed to see a Dyson hand drier. Its funny because when i have seen them in the past, i have been impressed, you always know when a toilet has made it, its when it has a Dyson,  it is one of the ones that you need to dip your hands into it to dry, sadly It was impossible to tip-toe and push my crotch into the hot air so instead I had to simply sit in the cubicle and hope that friction with a paper towel would dry a little. 
It was not the first time I had bought Primark trousers, the ones which were on me now were from there too, and the heat from the friction of the paper towel was not drying the urine, but was taking off the dye from the cheap trousers!  So even when i dried them a little , they still looked like i had peed! In this book I want to inspire and teach and also I want to write the truth, but the truth is I don’t behave like someone who inspires and teaches, always carry some spares and have a box of Tenner-lady is not inspirational. 

Before all this happened, life was normal, both me and my partner worked at my own business, I run a street food business, and I also work at O2 as a web developer, I went to the gym most days. I felt good.

On the 22nd of October 2012, a kind lady asked if I was ok. I was not sure if she recognised me from ward 42. One of the wards where she worked on, her job was the hospital cleaner. This is where i had been resident for the past week for a suspected gallstone issues. She may have just asked because she could see i was in shock.

I had lifted the bottom of my t.shirt and was sucking the hem, I was a 38 year old man acting like a 3 year old child. She never knew and still doesnt know the impact she had on me that morning. I don't really remember the words i said to her, but I remember hers, and they are more impact then what the doctor told me that morning, she said in a strong Yorkshire accent, "Well, you look a strong lad, you can handle it”, i stopped sucking my t.shirt, maybe she is right. Thank you kind lady, you really helped, and the following days and weeks and months, we were going to need as much help and strength as we could get.

When the doctor said cancer, it didn’t make any difference when they added the word ‘pancreatic' next to it.  I didn’t know anything about it, i should have known it was bad the way the doctors pronounced it,  almost whispered like it was an uncomfortable swear word that is highly offensive, and it is. 

Imaging asking a doctor in a serious voice, “Am I going to die?”, you cant? well don’t worry, as if its like the experience that I had, you won’t! I put a strange voice on when I asked. It was very high-pitched, it was almost someone asking a serious question about mortality and in the voice of Micky Mouse, even the doctor laughed! and when you ask that question, and they don’t answer, then, your voice goes even higher. 

We haven’t got children, we talk about it every now and then, but the 2 crazy uncles sounds more fitting than the 2 stressed out Dads. My partner is 9 years younger than me, and while I feel this experience at my age is heavy, I know even more so for him. We met about a one and half years before I got pancreatic cancer, he is VERY good looking, and i hope he doesn't mind me saying, is quite introvert, which those 2 elements are the oppersit description of myself. We had our civil partnership 2 years ago, it was very special.
It was a hot July and the day was perfect. Being two men getting married, it was not going to be a conventional weddings, so we had a picnic, with bails of hay for the adults to sit on and the kids to pull apart and play with, the food was plently. I own a street food business, so we were able to get some friends to cater for us, and the music was flowing as were the drinks, it was perfect, and everyone in the wedding photos glowed happiness, and i think the reason behind that was we all know that life was there to be celebrated.

I walked away from the lady and she carried on cleaning. I called Rob, I told him what i knew,  he made his way into the hospital. 

Making the phone calls and passing on messages to let everyone know that it was a bit more serous than the expected gallstones was hard, almost impossible to tell my parents, and step parents. 

The next few days where the strangest days we have ever had in our lives, all seemed very surreal. I think it was my bodies way of coping, everything slowed down, and blurred, Rob helped me walk from the hospital to the hairdressers, going to the hairdressers made sense at the time.

The hairdressers was asking all of the usual hairdresser questions, and seeing it was Friday, he threw a few of the Friday ones in, have I had a nice day, was I going on holiday, what plans did i have for the weekend, and I carried on as if all was OK, i gave the answers he expected, and all went smoothly, I don’t think it would have made a relaxed siting if I said, have I had a nice day? well, let me think, i got told I had cancer a couple of days ago, so not really, am I going on holiday, well, not now! whats my plans for the weekend, well, see that graveyard the other side of the road… I told him i was probably just relaxing for the weekend, and left a pound tip. 

I try and steer away from been a victim, even though I have fallen for acting in that way in the past. There was a gentleman in the flat above me where I used to live, and he sadly found out he had terminal cancer, it changed him. The area was not one of the best, and occasionally we  had to close the windows as local children like to play, throw the stones to see who gets annoyed first game, unfortunately the upstairs gentleman thought it was personal, and opened up his window and shouted, "I have cancer, and Im going to die” not only was he brave in dealing with his prognosis he also was brave for shouting at those children. They didn’t seem the type to reason, most of us would see a desperate ill man and show compassion, but then most of us would not be throwing stones at windows, they seemed to see weakness, and from there on decided to throw them at his window for the next few weeks. If it wasn’t cancer that was going to kill him, it was a brick. 

It was time to be taken into a room and told our options or lack of them. I saw some professional looking people in white coats looking at my MRI scan and then walk into the room, Both me and Rob were there. The main gentleman introduced himself Mr Al-Dourihe is the surgeon, he drew a picture of the pancreas. I could not even pronounce the word pancreatic at this stage.

He told me I have a twenty percent chance of it being operable, and the only way was to be operated to see if they can take it out, there is a one percent chance of death via the operation,  and if it was operable, i would still have a eighty percent chance of it coming back in the next few months, all in all, I had a three percent chance of surviving five years, and a one percent to survive ten. Most would not have been happy about the numbers but it meant I had a fighting chance and thats all we needed.

Two weeks later, It was time to go to see if I was able to be operable. 

This was no key-hole surgery, they essentially cut you across your abdomen to get to the pancreas at the back, If successful this is a ten hour operation, and if not, then Rob was waiting thought the day of getting a phone call to say. 

Rob looked at his phone, it was a Leeds number, and no one ever called him from Leeds, he answered, it was PPI - why do they ring at the wrong time, and just to prove this, it happened twice, both from Leeds numbers. 

The operation had been a success, there were compilations, which where quite bad, but all in all, it went well. Due to the complications I was in there for another 6 weeks, one of the nurses said to me, when you get out of here, thats when everything will hit you, and you may find it hard to deal with, she was right.

I had changed a lot in the past few weeks. I went from 13 stone to 9 stone. People react different to you when you start to look different and this is also a learning process, as its almost like you are finding yourself.

This was before the C plan (two months before)

This was after the C plan! Not sure which is worse the weight loss or the braces.

It has been a hard journey, but one where i have met some amazing people, which will now be life long friends.

So, now you know the basics of the situation that we are now in, this book will be about my past, my present and what I am going to do in the future to work it all out.


Thank you for reading, and if you can, please donate to and if you have any ideas on where I should change this or any other advice please contact me on

Thanks again

Carl x


  1. Hi Carl, I have been following your blog. I want to help you cure your cancer. Please go Google (virotheraphy Latvia, RIGVIR). I learned about RIGVIR from watching a documentary from (the truth about cancer) the last 3 day and learn about this treatment from it. You can follow (the truth about cancer) on Facebook. After watching the first 3 episodes of the documentary, it is an enlightening experience. There are 9 episodes altogether. My only brother died of pancreatic cancer 2 years ago at age 46. And till this day I'm stilling searching for a cure. Go look it up. It might really save your life.

    1. HI Kathleen, i will do, thank you for reading

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