Friday, 4 April 2008


I don’t have cancer.

I just got back from the Marsden where I was given the good news. To make a long story short, I have an increased risk of developing the disease at an early age due to family history. For years numerous doctors wanted me to undergo genetic testing and have screenings done in parallel. In the past I kept my head firmly in the sand and said, ‘I don’t have time for this now’, ‘I’m too young’, etc. After watching various family members suffer and die from the disease, I felt like I just didn’t have the capacity to take on board the possibility of going through this myself. Of course this attitude wasn’t in the least beneficial, so last winter I decided that enough was enough and I needed to deal with this. The genetic testing is going to be a long process however they did some preliminary cancer tests, which pointed out a potential problem. Could this really be happening now? Needless to say I have been in a state of shock. Part of me even wished that I never started this process.

I’ve actually had that same feeling about a lot of things in my life that I’m trying to change. It’s no secret that I spent years not dealing with anything that I needed to career wise, health wise and even climbing wise. Something did however change and I decided to work on turning my life around.

I was accepted on the MSc course that I applied to (ya) and will be starting next autumn. I stopped climbing and started seeing a physio for my shoulder problem. Finally and probably most importantly, I decided to start genetic testing.

All of this has been rather a lot to take on board. I don’t regret it and I never thought it was going to be easy, however that’s not to say it isn’t a difficult time. Strangely enough, UKC has provided a distraction this week while I was waiting for the test results. Ultimately though, I don’t feel it is a positive environment.

A more beneficial form of entertainment of late has been running. I started up again from a base of virtually nothing, but even in a short amount of time I have noticed a difference. Although I have always struggled with it, I feel that running does provide something that even climbing doesn’t. Maybe this happens because it is so difficult for me. Who knows.

As for climbing itself, well I went backwards a bit with my injury since I tried to do too much too soon. My physio was concerned it might be something more serious, such as a tear, but we agreed to just see if I improved at all in a weeks’ time and to take it from there.

I’ve also been reading The Rock Warrior’s Way as recommended to me by a friend. So far, I’ve found it quite interesting. I definitely identify with being too ego driven in my approach to climbing, but equally, I think that if I didn’t make any progress in my climbing, I would have had little base to work from when attempting to improve other areas.

I want to remember this moment. I still feel very shaken up by the whole process, but I also feel quietly thankful for everything that I have. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that. Life is way too short to waste it.

The sun is shining and it’s finally properly spring.

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