The sun sets on 13.5 months of adventure
I write this post sitting on a train to Newark airport in New York to get a flight home to the UK after almost 14 months of travelling. I don’t know why but I can’t quite believe I’m going home.
Someone asked me the other day where I lived and I said London but then afterwards I realised I don’t actually have a home there anymore. Home for me has always been where my parents are. They could move house tomorrow to a place I’ve never been before and I would still refer to it as home. I’m so excited to spend some time with them. I can’t wait to get one of my dad’s big papa bear hugs and I’m looking forward to sitting in the kitchen with my mum drinking cups of tea and eating sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
I’ve had the most wonderful time over the past 13.5 months. When I prepared my slide show for the kids at the school I gave a talk at in Las Vegas I couldn’t quite believe that it was me that had done all those things.
When I say ‘me’ I’m talking about the guy who just a few years ago was consumed by fear and dislike for the life he had been dealt, the introvert who gets nervous talking to people and the guy who’s idea of adventure was whether or not to have more than one cup of coffee in the day.
Travelling is such a strange thing for a person like me. I’ve had as many lows as I’ve had highs. I’ve laughed, cried, felt lonely, felt overcrowded, felt tired, felt alive, felt invincible and experienced happiness that I thought only existed in the movies.
When in my hospital bed in 2010 I had regrets about the way I had lived my life. When faced with the prospect of death my thoughts were of the places I had been and people I had met. My achievements at work were not things that entered my thoughts when I thought about my life. I also thought of the places I had always wanted to see and may now never get a chance to see. I worried that I had not exploited the years in between my illnesses where I was healthy and fit and that maybe my twenties were the best my life would ever be.
Unfortunately I don’t believe cancer and I are finished with each other yet. I’m sorry if this seems negative but it’s how I feel. When I was getting better I wanted to be sure that if cancer did ever rear it’s ugly head again I would this time be armed with all these amazing experiences and memories that I could go to when times got hard. I wanted to have no regrets about the way I had lived my life, I wanted to be able to say that I grabbed life by the balls and exploited it for it was worth but most of all I just wanted to feel happy.
People often refer to how ‘lucky’ I am to be doing what I’m doing. From a health perspective I am very lucky but with regards to this trip I made this happen. There was a time I would agree with the people that said this but then I realised that if I agreed with them it would mean that everything I have accomplished would be down to luck which would mean that others would never get the chance to do the things I’m doing.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says “luck is the place where opportunity and planning meet”. I totally agree with this statement. I made this trip happen, I saved, I planned and I took a chance and bought that plane ticket to Costa Rica last June. None of those things were down to luck.
People have brought up the issue of money a number of times. First things first, travelling can be very cheap. I’ve spent half of what I would have spent on a years rent and bills in London. I still can’t believe how little I’ve spent on this trip.
The reason I tell you this is because I want you to believe you can achieve your dreams whatever they may be. I didn’t sit around waiting for happiness to find me, I got out there and found it for myself. You can do the same and I want nothing more than for you to find your happiness and enjoy life. There is a way through the dark times. You WILL get your energy back after chemotherapy, you will be happy again and you can beat this horrible disease we call cancer.
I still think about cancer every day. I can’t help it. I think it will always be with me but the only difference between the Greig 2 years ago and the Greig now is that I can now turn my thoughts to positive ones. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and living in fear I now feel eternally grateful on a daily basis. I use my experiences with cancer to make me realise how lucky I am to still be here and that every passing moment is one to be cherished.
I have no idea how many of my the things on my list I have achieved over the past 13 months and if anything I’m simply using that list as a guideline of where I’m going now. The journey itself has been the thing that has meant the most to me.
The things I have enjoyed most are the things that have helped others. The volunteering, the head shave, the bike ride and the emails and comments I receive from you guys about how my story has helped you. They are the things that I will remember most if I ever end up in a hospital bed again.
Thank you so much to you all for joining me on this journey i’m on. You really have made it so much more than it would have been without you.
Keep fighting, keep believing and remember that life truly is a roller coaster. There are ups, downs, scary bits and bits that take your breath away with excitement and joy.
I’ll finish my final post from the Americas with a quote that I try to live my life by:-
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today”
(This photo was taken Idaho. No filters no tweaking, just natural beauty. This is what our world looks like when we are not fighting and dropping bombs on one another)