Monthly Archives: February 2013

New Cancer Research

I was lucky in that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which has a well-established protocol which led to my being cured pretty quickly but I know there are many people out there who aren’t so lucky and who are reliant upon some new drugs or treatment. This link is to Cancer Research UK and gives details of some of the research they are supporting along with some details of the people who are leading the research. I hope it is helpful.



Filed under Cancer, cancer research, Cancer Research UK, cancer treatment, Hodgkins Lymphoma

No One Should Face Cancer Alone

From time to time I’ve linked to articles from MacMillan Cancer Support which is a UK charity with an excellent reputation. MacMillan is now starting a No One Should Face Cancer Alone campaign and you can join, or possibly benefit from their help at

I was lucky in that I had my wife, family, friends and total strangers from the blogging community giving me fantastic support, but, even then, there were many times when I felt alone and isolated with this lump in my neck and the chemo drugs coursing through my body. One of my friends in the UK had fought his own battle against cancer and in those lonely hours when I felt totally isolated it was often his emails which helped most as he’d been where I was: he understood in a way that no one else I knew could. Thanks John.


Filed under Cancer, cancer research

A year ago today…

It’s now twelve months since I sat here writing about my concerns on the night before my first ever chemotherapy infusion. Purely coincidentally today I went to Dr Taché’s office for my port flushing. As usual the chemo room was busy and good-humoured. Purely coincidentally Lisa, my first oncology nurse was working today. I asked her if she remembered that this week was our first anniversary. The son of a patient asked if I had brought flowers for Lisa and I replied, “What, when she’s forgotten all about it? She doesn’t deserve them!” There was much laughter.

The past twelve months have seen things change a great deal. The chemotherapy literally brought me to my knees at times. At times it brought me even lower and I could do nothing other than crawl on my stomach like some squaddie undergoing basic training and being subjected to live-fire for the first time. These past few weeks I’ve really begun to feel my strength returning to something like normal and even my finger nails now seem to have disposed of the last remnants of the chemo and have stopped being brittle. My wife and I have even started on the Zumba classes offered as part of the Mayor of Davie’s Fitness Challenge, and, yes, I do ache slightly lol.

I’m applying for jobs on a daily basis and  am now managing to concentrate pretty well throughout the whole day. One issue which has cropped up is whether or not I should mention the cancer, the chemo and the recovery as a way of explaining what I’ve been doing for the past twelve months, as some people I have spoken with are of the opinion that this will scare away an  otherwise willing employer. If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d be interested to read them. Two days ago I had a phone call from Williams Zophin which doesn’t seem to have its own website but is on Apparently my resume had been discovered on-line by one of the managers and could I go in the next day (yesterday) for an interview as Benefits Director:  the job being described to me as, “going over union members’ benefits and making sure the paperwork is correct”. As always I tried to do some background research on the web. There is very little though there is a Facebook page. The Facebook page was a little worrying. The page contained several comments from people who were clearly and unashamedly current employees who thought Williams Zophin to be the best thing since sliced bread and were making great incomes by dint of hard work. Nothing wrong with any of that is there? No, I thought not as well, but there was another post from a lady (not visible on the page as I write) who had been approached in a manner similar to myself but had been successful in researching the company and had come to the conclusion that the company was a pyramid sales company selling life insurance. Despite this comment I thought I’d go and see what Mr Yemi of Williams Zophin had to say to me. My worst fears started to be confirmed when I walked through the door into their office. Every seat was taken by someone clearly there on interview. In fact there weren’t even enough chairs for the person ahead of me, myself, or the person who followed me, to have seats while filling out our questionnaires. A series of suited managers kept walking through the door and calling out the names of the interviewees. At this point I was very tempted just to leave but, having made at least this much effort, I thought I’d see it through, as, perhaps, they were interviewing for a series of posts – yeah right! Anyway my turn came and a thoroughly pleasant Mr Yemi asked me to tell him about myself which I did. Mr Yemi then explained the three stages of the interview process designed to ensure the right fit between applicant and company, and he then went on to say, “the job is about sales and managing sales”, to which I could only reply, “that’s not what I was told over the phone and I’m not interested in selling insurance”, at which point I terminated the interview. Why do companies do this? Why do they deliberately misrepresent what they want an applicant to do? Are they so desperate for new employees that they just trawl the web for recent resumes and get people in under what I can only call false pretences, accepting that they are going to wastefully invest their time in applicants who wouldn’t have gone had they known the true nature of the employment. Just to be clear on this, I didn’t do enough research to know whether or not the lady’s claim that Williams Zophin is a pyramid seller of insurance is true or not as I didn’t let my interview get that far. Neither do I know whether or not the products which Williams Zophin sell are any good or not as I found very little about them on the web. What I do know is that they misrepresented the job to me and I am very annoyed about that as I wasted a couple of hours which could have been better used trying to find a company which wouldn’t lie to me about why it wanted to interview me.

Still on the job-search front, tomorrow I take a two to three hours skills assessment test being proctored by a local university on behalf of a company to whom I applied for a job. Now, this company’s recruitment procedures seem to be entirely the opposite of Willams Zophin. This company contacted me having discovered my resume on the web, asked me to complete an application form, subsequently gave me a 30 minute telephone interview before asking me to take an on-line IQ type test, then asking me to write a book review of my (fictitious) autobiography. How many more stages will there be to this selection process if we presume I pass this stage? I don’t know, but I have to say it is the most rigorous selection process I’ve ever been through!

So, back to waiting for that first chemo infusion. It occurs to me that all over the world tonight there will be people in the situation in which I found myself twelve months ago. If any one of those people is reading this I would like to say to them that they may as well know they are probably in for a rough ride, but it is one which is made more bearable by a good medical team and the love and support of family and friends. You will make many discoveries along the journey, finding support from people from whom you wouldn’t expect to receive it, but also discovering that some people you thought you could rely upon absolutely just seem to fade away. You will find people who ask inane questions and others who talk to you with empathy and knowledge. My advice would be to join the blogging community, it’s a wonderful source of support. Whether you are one of those people just starting out on the chemo-trail, or are already travelling the route I wish you well on your journey. To those whose blogs have helped to sustain me during my own journey along the chemo-trail, especially my long-suffering wife, I say a very appreciative thank you.


Filed under Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, Dr Jason Tache, Job Search

Health Communications and Health Advocacy

“Patient blogs reveal the true extent of the impact of cancer on finances, work practices, family life…they offer a window into the lived experience of the patient.”

~Marie Ennis-O’Connor


When you are 34 years old, lecturing and working in Public Relations and Marketing at a University, you aren’t thinking about cancer.  Yet in 2004, Marie Ennis-O’Connor suddenly had to.  Her life changed with her diagnosis of breast cancer.

In a recent post on the International Journal of Public Health website, this Irishwoman writes, “A cancer diagnosis is not just a single event with a defined beginning and end, but rather a diagnosis [which] initiates a survival trajectory characterized by on-going uncertainty, potentially delayed or late effects of the disease or treatment, and concurrent psychosocial issues that extend over the remainder of a person’s life.”

The uncertainty, delayed effect of the disease or treatment and the possibility of recurrence are all…

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Filed under Uncategorized

Macmillan Cancer Survivors Course

Macmillan Cancer Support is a really well-known and respected charity in the UK and is offering an online course for cancer survivors. At the time of writing the course is showing as oversubscribed but still taking names in case people drop out. I guess that if there are enough names the course may run again.

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Filed under Cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support