It was January 17th, 2018 and we were at the Shepherds Bush Empire to see our favourite band King King! Normally I would have been really excited as they truly are a fabulous Rock and Blues outfit, however, this was the first time I had ventured out to anything like this since being told about my disease on the previous September, and it felt really uneasy.
The news totally knocked me for six, as a non-smoker I really did not think I would be told I had lung cancer, let alone stage 4 and incurable. The weeks and months that followed were incredibly hard for me and Karen to deal with as I was very poorly, both in my mind and my body.
Then out of the blue one evening my oncologist called to tell me I had tested positive for ALK, which is a form of cancer that is treated by a tablet rather than conventional chemotherapy. This promised a better form of treatment and a longer life expectancy but did not help my mood over much.
So here we are awaiting the start of the concert. I was feeling very anxious, all sorts of thoughts went through my head, would this be the last concert I go to? How would I cope emotionally?
Then something happened that was to change my outlook on life and living with my cancer.
Alan Nimmo then introduced a song he always includes in his set, it was written for his brother Stevie who, despite contracting cancer, just carried on with life as normal. Alan found this hard to deal with and could not understand how Stevie could be so strong and wrote how he felt about it.
When the song started that was it for me, in the midst of 1500 people I wept like a baby! (I think I got away with it, although I suspect my daughter may have noticed!)
Incredibly, after that song things seemed to dawn on me and I finally started to make sense of my situation, firstly, I started to enjoy myself, the band is incredible and you can’t help but love the music, and I’d realised that there is more to life than cancer.
It also dawned on me that my mood was affecting those close to me and bringing them down, my life was miserable because of my mood and attitude rather than my illness, and I could do something about that.
Thinking about the song I could understand why Stevie was so strong, it was because he wanted his family to be happy and not worry about him all the time, I had to find the strength from somewhere.
I reminded myself that evenings like this were possible and there would be more good times around the corner. I tell myself each day that today’s going to be a good day (and more often than not, it is).
As times gone on, I have had setbacks and good days, I have joined the ALK positive group in the UK and they are fantastic for me, I no longer feel alone and they do wonderful things to make people aware of this rare form of lung cancer. There are only around 3000 with ALK in the UK and only 100 or so patients and carers in our group. We have to make people aware that non-smokers can get cancer too and get checked for it if symptoms present themselves.
Karen and I have invested part of our pension into a holiday home on Mersea Island in Essex. Karen calls it our “bolthole” and we truly relax when we are there. That said, I am still working (albeit part-time).
And, we have been to see King King twice more since that gig in 2018! If it wasn't for the band, the fans and the music played on that fateful day in January 2018, I don`t know what my life would be like now (or even if I would still have one!).