Part 5: Life After Cancer
2007 - 2010From late 2007 to 2010 I received checkups every six months, this section my journal looks at the check ups I received during this era and a brief run down of my life during each year.
My first check up for 2007 took place in March, this was my fourth post treatment checkup. Prior to the appointment
I managed to have a talk with Dean the Oncology Consellor and was able to give an update on how work was going as he had
been concerned to whether I would be able to return to my job at the Freezing Works, Dean wanted me to get into
Accounting since he had no success trying to get me work experience in the IT industry.
At the appointment Dr Bayston made the comment that I was too healthy to be at the hospital.
I also raised the issue I was having at work where supervisor were trying to put me onto jobs that required heavy lifting,
Dr Bayston wrote a letter requesting to my boss that I do not do any job that requires heavy lifting, however I needed to use
the note after this appointment.
- At my second check up for 2007 in June there wasn't really much to say, Dr Baystons advice was only to make sure I didn't overdo things at work. At the time we were nearing the end of the season and processing frozen meat which is more labour intensive.
- My third check up was in early October and this month I received the good news that from next year all check ups will be every six months. I was advised at this check up to take a holiday before returning to the Freezing Works this year. I was unable to do this but took a break at Christmas instead.
- At the end of the year in December I had an appointment at the hospital with Doctor Fosbender, this is the doctor who performed the Biopsy before my treatment and gave me the diagnosis. This was the first time Dr. Fosbender had a chance to see my shoulder since when he last seen me nearly 3 years ago. He was very pleased to see how well my shoulder had healed and how that part of my body was functioning today.
- I attend two weddings this year the first was actually on New Years Eve 2006, my old high school friend Terry and Jen were married in Dunedin. The second wedding was Neroli and Pauls wedding during the first week of March, their wedding took place in Auckland.
- I saw several changes of flatmates during the year, Matt and Aimee left in March after they broke up. An old school friend and at the workmate Jonothan moved in, I also took on a girl Ruth. Both Jonothan and Ruth left in October.
- I experienced my longest season at the Freezing Works this year with the season starting the first week of November 2006 and running to the last week of July 2007, also my second shortest off season as we returned to work the first week of November 2007 as well. Overall a good season with 13 Saturdays and little short time right through.
- During the off season I worked at BP once again and managed to work over 40 hours almost every week despite only being hired as a casual.
- My first checkup for 2008 and my seventh post treatment checkup was supposed to take place on February 7 however due to Dr Bayston being involved in a car accident my next checkup was in May, Dr Sarah Moon looked at me in Dr Bayston's absence. The checkup took place six months to the day since my season had started at work so was the first day I had sick days available at work since our sick days are lost at the end of each season and we don't get them back until six months into the season. So I took a sick day so I could attend my appointment, the alternative was go to work and take an hour off and loose an hours pay while attending the appointment. I was a bit worried about having another Doctor see me as I was worried other Doctors would not know my history but it appeared she had read my notes and had no problems examining me. The big issue we talked about was the condition of my skin, particularly my hands. My hands during my work season look awful like around my knuckles skin is actually cracking and on the palms of my hands they are so dry the surface is flaking. I was reffered to dermatoligist who hopefully may have some answers as how to treat this.
- I finally received my appointment with the dermatoligist in October after going on to a waiting list. At the time I was not working at the Freezing Works as it was the off season so the condition of my hands had improved, I also found that I was able to buy rubber gloves from the Protector Safety shop in town as work no longer provides them. After having my hands examined the Doctor gave me a persription for Dermal which is a cream I put on my hands this seems to have improved the condition of my hands.
- My second checkup took place in November with Dr Bayston once again, there was no new information at this checkup. I gave a report about my appointment with the dermatoligist, the advice from Dr Bayston was to make sure I wore the gloves to work.
- At work this year I experienced a slightly shorter season but a very busy one, we started the first week of November 2007 and finshed the last day of June so about a month shorter than last year. We did 23 weeks of Saturdays a record for the company and certainly was great to get the overtime every week.
- I returned to BP once again for the off season and found myself struggling to get hours at work where in previous years I was doing overtime every week. The off season was also longer with me not returning to the freezing works until late November.
- I changed flatmates once again several times, both rooms were empty from October 2007 until the first week of January. Derek was my first new flatmate and I also took on Margo a month later. Derek I had my doubts about the whole time he was in my place, his life seemed to consist of sitting in front of the TV and watching the History Channel all or sleeping in until the late afternoon. I kindly gave him a little push out of my place in July and Aimee moved back in. Aimee only lasted in my place for seven weeks, things went downhill after she decided to hold parties at my place, move in her boyfriend and get a dog without asking.
- The final flatmate I took on in 2008 was at the time my best choice, Penny a then 20 year old girl moved in during November and right away we got on really well together and very quickly became good friends and then just weeks after moving in we both decided we liked each other and started going out together. There were some issues of the fact we were flatmates and an age gap but we didn't care we were, at the time, good together and had some happy months together.
- In September I learned that Angela the girl I met in hospital had died, according to the notice in the paper it happened while she was in her husbands arms. I hadn't been in touch with Angela since 2006 when I changed my cellphone number. A lot had obviously happened in this time as Angela was not previously married and she was now living near Christchurch.
- In October I upgraded my car to a 1999 Honda Torneo SiR. Check out the My Car Page on this website for more details
Christmas Day 2008 at my parents place.
- My first checkup for 2009 and my nineth post treatment checkup took place in May during the middle of the month.
I had my next appointment with Doctor Bayston at the middle of the month. The first item of concern was due to the condition
of my hands, as I have mentioned the job I do at the Freezing Works causes the condition of the palms of my hands to deteriorate
significantly. For the whole season the condition of my hands has remained good thanks to me buying some protective gloves for use
at work, previously the company had provided them to us but a year ago our Operations Manager who we refer to as "The Rat"
stopped providing them. Now he has gone one further and actually banned these gloves I was seen wearing these gloves and made to remove
them despite the dermatologist I seen last year tell me to make sure I wore these gloves. One guy at work was given a written warning for
wearing these gloves this is because he put them back on after being told to remove them. The reason they are banned is because part of them
fell off someones gloves and ended up in the box and the company had a massive claim taken out against them. This was most likely caused
by a packer wearing the gloves as my job does not require us to put our hands in the boxes. The season is coming to a close so this is an
issue I will deal with going into next season.
I have been having concerns about my weight dropping significantly, I was 85kg a year ago and now below 75kg. As a result Kate has insisted that we monitor this so I most have another checkup in 3 months time.
- I was required to have an additional check up this year in August due to the concerns of my weight loss in May. This means my next check up will take place early in 2010.
- Penny and I were together until April 2009. In the four months together we did have some great times such as her 21st, New Years together, going on random drives all over Southland and even to a concert in Dunedin one weekend. To this day I have no regrets about this relationship simply because we had some great times together, the break up was not a nice experince considering I was the one on the receiving end but I didn't let it get to me and in fact many aspects of my life improved following this relationship.
- I ended up experiencing my shortest and worst season at the freezing works this year, the season didn't start until the last week of November 2008 and we were finished before the end of May, not even six months work. During the season we did work some Saturdays but we also saw shorter days for a period of time and what really pissed me off was they allowed the room next door to carry on working on both day and night shift but finished our room on both shifts so someone who had only been with the company for 1 season in the room next door had a longer season than me.
- The shorter seasons at the freezing works lead me to decide to take a new path, I had attempted between 1998 and 2000 studying in IT when I did a Diploma in Business Computing but never found a job afterwards. So this year I decided to refresh my knowledge by going back to study, I chose to do the Bachelor of Information Technology degree at SIT during my off seasons. As my old tutors now took this course they were prepared to allow me to cross credit some papers based on my prior knowledge reducing the 3 year degree to a shorter period.
- I also attempted to return to BP this year the plan was only to work weekends and do study during the week, however after showing up for my first shift I was sent home and told I no longer had a job there. This ended what had been a 10 year working relationship and one that I am glad is over. I started at BP in 1999 when I was a student and worked just weekends and back then BP was a great place to work but after a change in management the place becaeme worse to work at every year, from the manager making employees pay when a customer drove off without paying to the manager not letting people take the day off when they are sick unless they arrange cover themselves. Also once I started course I found myself busy every weekend and certainly wouldn't have had the time to work and study especially since they used to call me up all the time at very short notice.
- I had a rather successful first six months at course passing all four papers I took getting a an A in one paper and B's in the other 3 papers.
- In June I became a member of the Southern Pride Lions club. Just weeks after joing I began building our club a new website. I did this as part of a second year project for course. After just 3 months in the club I became a board member taking on the role of 3rd Vice President, I also have the role of organising Club Visits and organising one of our fundraisers which is selling Club Bees.
- My first checkup for 2010 and also my eleventh chcek up post treatment took place in March. I raised concerns about having a shortness of breath during the last week of November last year this was around the weeks of my final exams for the year. The issue did go away so Doctor Bayston does believe it could have just been anxiety in the lead up to my exams. This hasn't been an issue since however I was referred to have an appointment to check out my breathing. Kate then asked when the last time I saw a dentist way, my response to this was way back in 2003. During my treatment Kate did mention I may need to see a dentist following my treatment as the chemo can do damage to your teeth. I asked if it were possible to have the hospital dentist examine my teeth given the fact that if there was any damage to my teeth this was likely to be caused by the chemo. Kate was unsure if I would qualify for such treatment given the time since my treatment but still put in the referal. Weeks later I was given an appointment to see the hospital dentist. The reason I haven't gone to see my own dentist in so long is the cost, my last visit cost over $200, I have been informed that now days the cost of having fillings done can be near $800.
- My second checkup was in the middle of August. Once again there was very little news to report perhaps the best bit of news would have to be that my checkups from here on will be reduced to once a year. I am to continue to have checkups once a year for the next 5 years at this point assuming no further problems I will receive no further checkups and can be assumed to be cured.
- I received my dental treatment through the hospital in August and ended up having about 3 fillings. The biggest pain was the $300 bill I received, I was not happy about this as I was at the understanding I wouldn't be billed for treatment through the hospital I did manage to pay this eventually though.
- I had a slightly better year this year at work with a slightly longer season than the previous year. We started the same day as the previous year which worked out well since I went straight from course at the end of 2009 to work. I worked on day shift as I have been since 2006 but moved to night shift in February so that I could work and study at the same time. The season ended the day after Queens Birthday which was great since the company had to pay us for Queens Birthday and worked well since it was just weeks before exams at course.
- This was certainly a great year at course, this year I decided to do the third year project. I managed to find my own project building a website for a now defunct radio station in Wellington. I spent many hours putting together a site for this station only to have them go out of business in September, fortunately my tutors were more than happy to make sure I still received full marks for the project despite it never being delivered to the client. The rest of my subjects I managed to get mostly B's once again however I did get an A+ for the project and a webdesign paper. I did also end up getting one C+ in the 3rd year networking paper my only C.
- In October I started going out with Cheryl who was doing the BIT degree with me. Cheryl and I first met at the start of the year when Cheryl quit her job as a barrister to return to our course, Cheryl had been doing the degree some years earlier. I first became interested in Cheryl back in May however it wasn't until July when I became really serious about asking Cheryl out even then I held off as I wasn't sure if she would be interested in me so I just focused on becoming good friends first. I finally asked Cheryl out in October via text message when she was on holiday on the West Coast with her parents.
- Christmas this year took place at Katrina's place in Christchurch. While Mum and Dad travelled up before Christmas Day I actually stayed in Invercargill and had Christmas with Cheryl's family and we both travelled up on Boxing Day fortunately missing the major earthquake that occured in Christchurch that day. We only felt a couple of shakes while in Christchurch and had a chance to see the city slightly damaged little did any of us know this would be the last time we would see the city this way.