Archive for July, 2011

Chemo 35.0 (and a hiatus)

July 28, 2011 13 comments

Well my last round for a few weeks has come and gone, and for whatever reason, this was a surprisingly tolerable round. I was still miserable, but if you were to grade miserableness, which I have increasingly got better at, it was at the lighter end of the scale. However, the tradeoff was a slightly slower recovery that I might normally have had. Also, to add insult to injury, I have had a really hard time sleeping over the past few nights, even with pharmaceutical supplements.

Following round 35 came my last two days of work in the cardiothoracic unit, and a talk that I did at the medschool. This talk was on wednesday evening, and about 120 people showed up for it which was pretty surprising!! I was expecting maybe 60-70. The room was packed, and I followed a seminar type format with some Q and A at the end. It seemed to be received well, but then it’s always hard to know. No one wants to be the one to tell a dying man he sucks. 🙂

From here, comes a sabbatical of sorts. Four weeks, slow paced, adventure filled, exploring Peru. We depart on Saturday afternoon, and won’t be back till the beginning of September, where I start in Older Peoples Health.

… So, this basically means that this blog will quieten down for a bit. It may be that whilst I’m sunning myself in the shadow of the Andes I get all reflective and decide to write something as llamas stroll past and guinea pigs are being roasted… But to be honest, I doubt it.

So for a little while, see you soon…


Fast Flash

July 18, 2011 6 comments

This evening I tried a new photography technique which aims to capture motion. The idea is to slow your shutter down, then add flash to illuminate the scene. The period of time that a flash actually lights a scene is much shorter than exposures from any of the fastest shutters, hence the flash controls the exposure, rather than the shutter.

Here is my first go…

Chemo 34.0

July 16, 2011 1 comment

Yep, its uncharted territory. No one has gone this far at Auckland hospital on this regime. This didn’t necessarily become official with this round, but I’m competitive, I like to know that I’m winning :-).

That is if you can call 34 rounds of nausea, dry retching, hairloss, acid reflux, fatigue that cannot be described with words, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, and random aches and pains an achievement. If it is actually an achievement, its really just an achievement in misery. I think I’d rather achieve something like climbing Mount Everest, that seems far more glamourous that this.

This round was more or less the same as previous, with the exception that I had to take Wednesday off work this week. On Wednesday I was unnaturally tired, which is actually unusual for me. I was back to work Thursday though, and felt a lot better. I’m not entirely sure why I needed the extra day, when for 33 rounds I haven’t, but I’m hoping its not a longer term trend.

Only one more round, then Peru….

Until next time…

Categories: Cancer Update Tags: , ,

My Brother’s Shadow

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

A friend of mine has recently published a book that has been three years in the making. It was written after the tragic passing of her younger brother 5 years ago. She has asked me to review it for a newspaper, which I have done, and which is below. For those interested in purchasing it, details are after the review. 

Very few of us live a life that does not, at its darkest hour, question the God we claim to believe in. Few of us can reconcile the disconnect we sometimes find between what has been preached from the pulpits, and the tumultuous, gritty reality we find ourselves wading through. Even fewer of us again are able to put that journey to words in order to rediscover faith when it has been shattered by the world around us.

Hayley Reynolds’ book ‘My Brother’s Shadows’ is an exploration into exactly this. She tells the story of her younger brother Wayne whose story begins simply, but takes an unexpected turn when he is 16 years old. From increasing fatigue, to regular nosebleeds and wounds that would not heal, the warning signs culminated into a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. With a potential cure rate of 85-90%, and faith in a loving, healing God, there was plenty of hope; hope that was confirmed by a faith healer who proclaimed ‘complete remission’. Hope that came crashing down as the reality of leukaemia began to make its mark on a God-fearing family.

I know Hayley personally and witnessed this journey, yet this book remains poignant to read. It offers a unique insight into the thoughts, the hopes, and the despair when a loved one in a community of faith is diagnosed with such an illness. Hayley takes the reader on a journey of hope and a journey of faith shattered. She then begins the process of rebuilding what she thought she knew, to the new reality she now finds herself in, one that tries to deal with knowing her brother died from a very curable illness.

My Brother’s Shadows is subtitled: ‘a journey of faith in the midst of tragedy’, as it takes the reader through the innocence of youth, the starkness of reality, and the hope for something more. This story doesn’t end happily-ever after as it should. It takes a turn towards grief, mourning, and disappointment in God as Wayne loses his battle with leukaemia. Hayley poetically journeys through the 18 months of turmoil she and her family endured. She celebrates the highs, and is brought to her knees in tears during the lows, in what can only be described as brutal honesty. It is honesty that sets this book apart from others, It is honesty that will make you weep.

Many books have been written to try and find the ‘meaning’ in suffering, few actually take the reader on such a raw journey. I would recommend this book for anyone struggling with what life has thrown at them. It captures the essence of faith in the midst of tragedy, and is a reminder to us all what a loving God and a loving community of faith looks like when life shatters around us.

Books cost $20 each + $5 post & packaging

To order email: or phone: 09 480 7573

For more information, see:

Categories: Blog Tags: ,

Cafe Noir

July 13, 2011 1 comment

Sometimes espresso extraction doesn’t do coffee justice….

Shutter 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 400, 55mm.

Categories: Photography Tags: ,

The Battle that was Lost

July 12, 2011 6 comments

At 8pm, July 10th, 2011.  A much loved Claire Wilson passed away gently in her sleep, age 30. It is hard to know what exactly to write in response to this, but I’ll have a go…

Claire and I met through an odd connection via parents and aunties. The connection however was not one that should be made in ordinary life, it was made because in November last year, Claire was diagnosed with bowel cancer and she was only 29. People my age with this diagnosis are few and far between. To date, in my 2 1/2 years of living with this illness, I have only come across 3 others who are my age and are battling the same disease. Through horrible circumstances, we conversed over telephone and email, sharing in our illness the highs, the lows, and the tribulations of chemotherapy. I have met Claire only 3 times in my life in person, but they were enough times to understand what she was going through, and for her to understand my journey.

It was Claire through whom the 20/20 story was made, as she reached out to make other people aware that life did not have to go this way. Bowel cancer, killing more people than breast and prostate cancer combined, doesn’t need to be the killer it is. Shortly after the filming of the story, I had heard that things were not looking good, and on Sunday just been, she passed away.

Her passing is a not so gentle reminder of the fate that lies before me. Ultimately, unless God himself intervenes, I too will be passing away as a victim of this illness. It makes you think of issues of life and death, and what you believe around them. We all get to live and we all get to die, its just a pity that some of us reach the latter sooner than others.

May God be with you Claire, may God be with your family at this time. May you rest peacefully now, free from the affliction your body had to endure, and may you know God’s peace.

Categories: Blog