I realise it’s been quite some time since my last post and thought I’d come out of my writing hiatus and let you know I’m still alive, kicking and doing well. In fact our family and I have been socialising as good friends and family have been arriving on a turnstile basis from the UK, it’s been all go around here.
It’s great to be able to report that I have now finished my first 48 days of chemo and 6 weeks of targeted radiation. I’ve been sent home with my radiation face mask as a keep sake; I’m not sure what I’ll do with it perhaps my son, Thomas, may have ideas. But it’s a relief that it’s all over and though I feel a bit knackered I feel I’m doing really pretty well, in fact I don’t seem to have any ill effects aside from having lost some memory which I’m working hard to get back.
Recently Derek, who was one of my guide runners during the 90’s, and Liz Jones visited from old blighty. Mostly we explored Auckland but we also took off for adventuring other sights featuring a couple of nights in Mt Manganui where we walked for hours along the beach and up the 3km hill to the top of the Mt. There were a number running up and down repeatedly…that’ll be me soon!. The following weekend, they joined us at one of Sarah’s oldest friend Rachel’s wedding in Mangawhai. We rented a fantastic holiday house in the middle of rolling fields with an oak hot tub which was great fun late into the evening sharing stories under a sky full of stars, devoid of the city light pollution. As the Jones’ where departing a guide runner mate, Paul Rowe, flew in from the UK for 5 days. It was great to share old times with him and take on aqua-jogging with another mate.
Then my big sister Angie arrived, we took on Auckland’s volcano and climb to the top of Rangitoto, it’s really hard to describe the peace at the top and the whole new perspective it gives on Auckland.
I really enjoyed bonding with my sister again, Sarah, the kids and I loved having her here. Angie kept finding us adventures for the day. On Monday Angie and I spent five hours on Waiheke visiting vineyards and exploring beaches on a lovely hot Auckland day. Angie was keen to find the nudist beach which she had discovered 10 years ago when she came out for our wedding. She took me right out of my comfort zone when she urged me to do a little swimming. I have to say when she described the sights of the other swimmers around us I was kind of pleased to be blind. I have to admit that it did feel quite liberating but it felt strange walking back to the towels on the sand. Well at least it’s something I can tick off my list!
Our next adventure was to take on paddle boarding. It was great fun, I fell in at least ten times whereas Ange only fell in twice making me more determined to practice and get better. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the conditions where perfect to learn to paddle board with flat sea and very little breeze. I loved hearing the sounds of the birds frolicking, the children cavorting on the beach and in the shallows and the splash as I made yet another inelegant entry in to the sea.
Next week my younger sister Sue and her daughter Olivia arrive and Thomas and Molly get to meet their big cousin for the first time.
I have just started my new increased regime of chemotherapy, this version is 3 times more intense than the last lot but it’s for a shorter period, just 5 days on and 3 weeks recovery and this is for the next 6 months, so far so good. I have beefed up my anti-nausea pills and besides my occasional need for an afternoon granny nap I am otherwise feeling strong and determined as ever to just get through the treatment.
The main thing I have noticed since surgery is my struggle with words and I’m having to concentrate getting them back. My specialist explained that my tumour was positioned in both the area of my brain that controlled vision and it also crossed over into the communication area. I’m trying not to allow myself to become frustrated but I am determined to work on it with speech therapists to improve.
I have always enjoyed speaking publically and Veronica my sister in law asked me to share a short presentation at a local community centre event she was hosting last week where I live in St Heliers. I was surprised how hard I found it to remember the words I wanted to say when I was practising my speech. It was eye opening the difference dealing with a brain injury and having to retrain my brain to do things I previously found quite straight forward. This was the first time I had spoken in public since my surgery. But giving up would have been too easy and I’ve never been one to take the easy option. I managed to learn my speech and it was well received by the audience. I was pleased I did it and realised that if you want to do things you have always done you just have to keep on doing them.
It has been wonderful spending quality time with my in-laws Bruce and Sharron over Easter and we are enjoying being with the kids while they are on school holidays. Thomas and Molly are incredible kids and they appear to be handling all the changes and difficulties around here pretty well. Sarah and I are really proud of them.
Finally I’d really like to congratulate a very close friend of mine, Helen Jones, who last week ran the Brighton (England) marathon. This was Helen’ first time running this historic 42.1km distance. I well know how the marathon is gruelling and totally unremitting and I am so impressed with your determination Helen and I am all fired up to plan my return to running. I am also proud to say that Helen ran her marathon in my honour and managed to raise $1000 for Dove House, which is the cancer organisation here in NZ which has been a great support to my family and myself.
Thanks again everyone for your messages of love and support… until my next post…
Rob Matthews MBE. Paralympian