30 Oct “I have a big drive to live!” – David Wilson’s Journey
Am I going to die?
“It is not curable, but is very much treatable. We often find that with some treatments, you can live a further 10 years.” I’m now half way.
For most people September 11th will rightly be the day people remember the attacks on the twin towers in 2001. However, for me it will now be remembered as the day my world fell apart, the day my life changed: September 11th 2014.
I received my test results in the hospital and heard the words: “We now know what is going on and it is not good news, it is called Myeloma and is a cancer of the bone marrow”.
Time stood still, the panic and the feelings overwhelmed me. Tears filled my eyes, trying to remain composed while asking questions. I was crushed – I cried and I cried. After, I would wake up during the night and hug my wife Andrea tightly; it shattered both of us.
Soon after my initial appointment, I started treatment which consisted of a 31 tablet concoction daily and one injection weekly. All these drugs do what we’re supposed to – they hurt. I realised that the drugs were too hard to fight. I always had this ethos that I’m going to be the hero for my family; I was going to be strong! Then, you realise that you can’t win against these drugs – these tablets are going to mess with you, that is their purpose.
The doctors concluded that it wasn’t working, so they gave me thalidomide. When you hear them say thalidomide, and you understand what it did in the 60s to fetuses, it’s quite a scary thought – until you know what it does for cancer patients. Thalidomide destroys cells, but in cancer patients it does it in a way that can help.
Before I went for my first transplant, they decided that they were going to hit me incredibly hard with chemotherapy, and it nearly killed me. I couldn’t cope with the levels of steroids and medication – I was in the hospital three times within four weeks. After that, they decided to change the treatment so I was in chemo for three weeks then a week off. Those weeks off became so important; I focused on that. The motivation to get home to my family was huge. One instance, I was still not feeling 100% but I wanted to go home, so I did. If I didn’t have a family, and I don’t know what it would have been like. Ultimately, I have a big drive to live. There’s something inside that really wants to live.
I’m a glass half full person, I always look on the positive side. The support bubble I have is amazing. I have all these people behind me: people at work, on Facebook, friends and – of course – my family. There has always been so much laughter even during the treatment and just like it is now. Even in hospital things make you laugh. Nurses and doctors on the wards spend time talking to you because they know you could be on your own for a while. I was never truly on my own though. Every half hour, someone will come in with your cuppa or pills and my wife would visit me each morning.
Now that I’m in remission, I look at life differently – in the sense that it could get taken away tomorrow. I’m spontaneous – saying let’s just do it. I always had ambitions. Throughout the treatment I logged in my diary, a set of ambitions that I wanted to achieve. I’ve got two left to complete. One was to hit 50, which is next year because I considered that I might not make it. And the second one is to hit my 25th anniversary with Andrea, which is in two years. I have two more years of my ambitions that I noted when I started.
Also on my list was to give back to those who helped me. I decided to fundraise for Bright Red. I always remember what someone at the Freeman Hospital said to me: “the smaller, regional charities rarely get a big bite of the dairy”. We raised £1000 for Bright Red – it makes me feel really proud that I can give back!