Home and happy!
I made it!
2 years on the road, 23 countries visited, a bit of money raised for charity, a bit of hope spread, a few people inspired, a spot of volunteering done, awareness of PTSD and cancer raised, 41 things ticked off my anti bucket list, many friends made, 1000s of photos taken, a life time of memories made, a generous and good world discovered and lots of hope spread.
All because I wanted to be happy again.
I arrived back to a sunny UK to be greeted at the airport by my beautiful parents. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am to be home.
My 101 adventure started on June 17th 2013 but this journey actually started about 8 months before that.
After months of various forms of therapy to help me cope with the effects of PTSD after surviving cancer for the second time my girlfriend ended our relationship. I don’t blame her as I was making her as miserable as I was making myself. I realised then that I had reached the lowest point I could possibly go. I was consumed by fear. She had once loved me so much so for her to make that decision made me realise that I really wasn’t the happy positive person I once was. By being unhappy I was making others unhappy as well.
The following day I stopped taking anti depressants and decided I would follow a life long dream and travel around the world. Two weeks after that I went for my two year check up and in the waiting room I decided I would try and help others as I travelled and create a website raising the awareness of PTSD and to show people that there is life after cancer. Two months after that I moved out of my flat, got rid of most of my possessions and moved in with my brother and his wife and started saving my money and planning my trip. Soon after that I started sleeping again, my eczema cleared up and I started to feel more optimistic and happy again.
I felt better even before I set off on this trip and it was all because I not only had something to look forward to but because I was being proactive in changing my life. In the end this trip was just a bonus as I was already more than half way to achieving the main reason I needed to go away in the first place….To feel happy again!
It was amazing to see what effects on the body the power of positive thought had.
The past two years have brought with them the most incredible experiences of my life and I still have to pinch myself when I think of all I’ve done. I have met the most incredible people, visited some of the most awe inspiring places on the planet and learned an awful lot about life along the way.
The only thing I ever had planned on this trip was my volunteering with Raleigh International. The rest I just figured out as I went. I started with only 45 things on my list and now I think I’m up to around 74 things now. I’ve added less and less to my list one of the reasons is because I’ve become increasingly more content with my life. I’m just so grateful to have experienced the things I have. Anything more would now simply be a bonus.
Going on this trip is the bravest thing I have ever done and I am so proud. Admittedly it did take two bouts of cancer to pluck up the courage to do this but I got there in the end. I may well have no money or job now but I feel like the most successful person in the world.
There are so many amazing people out there that have helped make this dream possible. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of both friends and strangers.
Some of my friends went out of their way to raise money for me which is something I never asked for. They just believed in what I was doing which was just incredible. Some ran marathons, had cake sales, cycled across countries, had halloween parties and so much more. I was completely overwhelmed by this support and I am forever grateful. Thank you to my sponsors who supported me long before I even had a website. They were supportive from the get go and I am so appreciative they took a chance on me. A huge thank you to my wonderful friend Phil Rae who built and designed my beautiful website. He has also spent his spare time updating it for me over the past two years. I didn’t know Phil before this but he has now become a very close friend.
Thank you to my wonderful brother and sister in law for letting be stay with them whilst I saved for this trip and for also keeping motivated when I still wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. My brother has been my inspiration ever since we were children. He kept me motivated when I was ill and I wouldn’t have even dared imagining doing this trip without his inspiration or support.
Thank you to my parents for always being there for me. They are and have always been the foundations that hold me up and keep me safe. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.
Thank you so much to all the people who I have met along the way, who gave me somewhere to sleep, bought me a hot chocolate or were just nice to me. Your support was again a reminder that there are a lot of good selfless people out there.
Finally a huge thank you to everyone who follows this blog. I have not had the pleasure of meeting most of you but I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given me. Your messages and comments have not only filled my heart with joy and kept me motivated but they’ve also helped my parents and some of my friends understand what this blog was all about. I have said quite a lot about my experiences with cancer and PTSD. I can imagine it must be strange for my parents to see me make it all so public. I know how much it has helped me but I also think it helped them understand that many other people have also been affected by the psychological effects of cancer. I felt very alone when struggling with PTSD after cancer. I had no idea that it was so common until I started 101. Thank you for your support and sharing your experiences with me. It has really helped me.
There is a common misconception that people no longer need support once the treatment and operations are finished with and you are in the clear. That is not the case I am afraid. I liken beating cancer to climbing Everest and you get to the top and have all your safety equipment taken away. It’s sometimes difficult to know what to do next. I needed as much support after cancer as I did during it and I really got that from many of you. You will never fully realise just how much that has meant to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I wanted this blog to be a place where people could come and just feel good. I wanted to show you how wonderful the world actually is and that there is happiness after all the pain and fear.
If you had heard of a guy who had suffered from cancer twice, had one kidney, a large part of his bowel missing, blood clots and suffered with PTSD you might have felt quite sorry for him. I hope I have dispelled that perception now and when you meet someone who might be going through a similar thing, you might like to say:- “I heard of a guy who had that. He went travelling around the world for two years, climbed volcanoes, jumped out planes and met loads of really cool people. He’s doing just fine and so will you”.
Whether you followed this blog because of a love for travel or whether you have experienced illness I sincerely hope that parts of it have put a smile on your face and inspired you when thinking of your own to do list. I was no adventurer before this. I hope you look at my experiences (not just travel) and think ‘if this guy can do it then I could easily do it too’ because that is the truth of it.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart everyone. I am so honoured to have shared this adventure with you. There is a lot more to come and more in which I would like to involve all of you.
I now plan to set up numerous charitable 101 ventures in which 101 Things To Do When You Survive can help and inspire more people. I firmly believe we have the foundations for something good and long lasting that will help many charities and raise awareness of many other causes. I really hope you will play a big part in that. I plan to make health and nutrition a big feature on my website as well. Let’s see if we do our bit to not only help more people survive but also help lower cancer diagnosis rates!
I will of course being hoping to add and tick off more things from my list but for now I’m pretty content.
The final photo in this post is a photo of my new bedroom.
My big brother and his amazing wife have again invited me to live with them whilst I sort myself out. They have just bought their very first house and ever since they asked me to live with them I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I have been more excited about that than all of the other things left on my list.
A few days ago my brother sent me this photo of the room they have set up for me. I must have looked at this photo about 50 times in the past few days imagining what it’s going to be like to be there. The thought of having my very own room and having drawers in which to unpack my bag fills me with so much excitement. Who ever thought a bedroom in Maidenhead would be more appealing than ticking off something new from your dream list. How life has changed!;)
So here we go gang! Back to the old new! I was slightly worried that this trip might have just been a lovely distraction from my usual worrying ways but as I write this I realise I’m not going to let happen. I’m going to keep working hard to keep getting better. I’ve got my 5 year check up soon, Im going to enrol in a mindfulness course to help me live more in the moment and help control my anxiety. I’ve also got to get off my lazy butt and start training for my Transamerica bike ride. I’m going to write a book and oh yes…find some kind of work which pays money! Yikes! I might have to do that one first!:) You and I also have a certain hot chocolate party on Richmond Hill in September as well! Date coming soon!
So is there life after cancer? You bet your ass there is and you know what….if your reading this then life is also happening right now!
I must confess that I have been very much conflicted in my views to what brings about a better life. I am big believer that we should all live in the moment and try not to think too much about the future. But when your moment isn’t much fun, like when you’re having chemotherapy, I truly believe that thinking of a future life where the pain has stopped and you are doing fun things can be the best medicine of all. Hope is a wonderful thing.
I’d been struggling in how to convey this until yesterday. I arrived home to find the most beautiful and life affirming book in the mail that had been made Katie, the head nurse at the Butterly Children’s Hospice. It is the most beautiful book about my visit to the hospice. She also wrote some inspirational quotes in the book and it is there I found this one which I think you’ll agree says it all;
Learn from yesterday.
Live for today.
Hope for tomorrow.
Be good to yourselves gang and in doing so you will also be good to those you love and meet on this little journey called life.
Love and well wishes to you all