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Marty Doyle, Neck Cancer Survivor

Head and Neck Cancer

Eight Words – by Marty Doyle

(Convenor Head and Neck Cancer Support Australia) Australia

Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma with an Occult Primary.
Eight words that changed my life forever.

These words gave me the opportunity to see the beauty and love of members of my family, feel the genuine concern of my friends and the friendship of people I had never met before.

I was admired by my colleagues at work for the way I conducted myself during treatment and I was given the opportunity to reconsider my life so far and how I wanted to live it in the future.

I was able to work on the relationship between “do-ing” and “be-ing” and between “ego” and “spirit”.

I was able to appreciate that you can’t worry about the “what ifs”, the most important time is the present and it takes a lot of courage to “let go” and know that everything is going to be Ok.

Those eight words helped me realise that “I am the master of my Fate” and what you think about is what you get. So change the way you think and what you think about will change.

I realised, you only get a certain amount of energy a day, how you use it is up to you. By the end of the treatment I had lost 26 kilos in 6 weeks, lost my muscle mass and I was extremely tired every day. My throat was sore I couldn’t swallow solid food. My skin was pealing from the radiation and the chemo had drained all my energy. At times I could hardly walk from the bed to the front door.

It was very sick and it was very frustrating.

I couldn’t just sit around and feel sorry for myself. I had to do something.

I decided each morning to go for a walk. At first it was just from the bedroom to the kitchen, then the front of the house to the back ...and twice around the lounge room. Then the front of the house to the street,...then down the road.....then around the block. After a couple of weeks I was walking for 15 minutes a day at a very easy pace. I was getting stronger every day. Then one day I discovered the hill at the end of Kays Rd.

It was a monster of a hill and after walking on fairly flat roads I thought I would test myself and see how far up the hill I could get.

I had only walked 10 metres before my legs were burning; I was out of breath and felt very sick. I was exhausted. After I recovered I had to walk 5 kilometres home. When I got there I decided that was such a dumb idea. I was still very sick and what was I thinking walking up a hill like that. I shouldn’t be walking. So I stopped.

I wanted to remain well and sitting around feeling sorry for myself wasn’t doing me any good.

So, I started walking again. I walked past the hill; I looked up it and continued on...“you must have had rocks in your head to even think about walking up that hill.” Next day I walked to the bottom of the hill and thought I am not going to let this beat me. I will get to the top of this hill. The cancer has gone I am healthy it’s just that the body needs to know that. When I get to the top of the hill my body, my mind and my spirit will all know I’m ok.

The hill

Each day for the next couple of weeks I walked up the hill. Some days I only got 10 metres before having to stop. Some days I got 50 metres only to get 20 metres the next time.

My lungs burnt, my legs turned to jelly but I was determined to get to the top. 2 months later I reached the top of the hill at the end of Kays Rd without stopping.  That was the day I realised “it really does get better”.
I was able to look back down the hill and see all the places where I had stopped because I couldn’t go any further.

The hill from the top

I realised you just need to take one step at a time and not get too far ahead of the game.

The hill at the end of Kays Rd is something we all got thru at some stage in our lives.
Some of us never take the first step because it looks too hard or we are worried what will happen. Some only go so far and then they give up. It’s those that make it to the top that get the benefit of the view and the lessons learnt on the journey.

"Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate, Our biggest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure."

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