Friday May 6 Session No 30 (3 to go)
As you can tell from the late arrival of this blog – we’re getting a bit demob happy here.
But hey , I think we’re entitled to cut ourselves a bit of slack. 30 down and just 3 to go! Statistically (and you know how much I love a dubious statistic) we are 90.9% of the way there.
And we’re doing just fine thank you. The fatigue is…. tiresome, but manageable. The bowels continue to grumble, but in a predictable way. But otherwise things are fine (touch wood) and and the morale is good.
Apart from one or two bad patches we’ve managed to keep in good spirits throughout this long, long journey (when we started out I had the winter lining in my jacket, today I walked to the hospital in shirt sleeves).
So here’s a few suggestions to anyone starting out on a course of radiotherapy on how to keep cheerful.
These are in no particular order of importance – just as they occur to me.
Listen to music. Music has a wonderful ability to lift you up and transport you. I favour upbeat music, but if you actually enjoy listening to Leonard Cohen then go for it. As I write this I’m listening to “The Return of the Avener” ( By curious coincidence one of the tracks features Adam Cohen, son of said, sad, Leonard)
Look at photos. Flick back through your photos to remind yourself of friends and loved ones and the good times you have enjoyed with them. On my bathroom wall I have a selection of photos which I look at every morning as I brush my teeth – it gets the day off to a good start.
Exercise. Try to keep physically active – getting those endorphins flowing is incredibly good for the morale – and there’s increasing evidence that exercise isn’t just good for your general health it also improves your chances of beating prostate cancer.
If you’re in to gyms or workouts, keep going (though be ready to reduce the intensity as your journey progresses). If you aren’t, make sure you get a decent amount of brisk walking in each day, use the stairs not the escalator or the lift etc.
And keep doing those pelvic floor exercises. They help keep you continent and they help preserve your erectile function. They really seem to help me. More info here.
Two things best avoided though: cycling on a hard saddle (things get a bit tender down there) and swimming (you need to be kind to your skin during RT and the chlorinated water of a pool is apparently best avoided). The RT nurses will give you some very neutral cream for your skin; applying it three times a day is a bit of chore but, touch wood, it’s worked for me.
Keep busy. It’s probably best to try to reduce to a minimum work commitments that you have to fulfill. But keeping busy with light duties is a good idea. Hey, you could even start writing a blog!
Stay engaged. There’s a big world out there – stay in touch with it. The news can be depressing so it’s a very personal choice whether to follow current events (I’m a bit of a news junkie). But there are new films, plays, art shows, books and music out every week. Enjoy!
See people. Make a point of staying in touch with friends. I found it was great to arrange to meet up near the hospital after treatment for a cup of tea and a chat. (Thank you, all of you who went out of your way.) It’s good to share how things are going and to talk about everything else under the sun.
Be kind to yourself. There’s a lot of very conflicting information for all cancer patients about what you should and shouldn’t eat. I don’t want to get into that debate here. All I would say is try to eat a healthy diet, but don’t beat yourself up. A little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Rest. The RT and the daily trips to the hospital will become tiring. I make a point of putting my feet up on the sofa and having an early afternoon nap every day.
There will be bad times. It’s pretty much inevitable that at some point your morale will flag. Don’t panic. Reach out for sympathetic help from loved ones, family and friends. And remember it’s always coldest just before dawn. You’ll instinctively know when you’ve touched bottom and from there the only way is up.
There we go – good luck on your journey. And remember this is what worked for me, other things may work better for you. But keep working at it. Anything that helps put you in control is good news.