There are some experiences in life that will forever be imprinted in a persons mind. They exist in ones memory as significant moments in time that whether good or bad will never be forgotten. Everybody has them, especially Viv when his mind journeys back to the 4th of July 2006 and the announcement that he had cancer of the throat. He considered marking this day with a diary entry until Avril reminded him that although that day will never be forgotten, the feeling and emotions that were experienced should not re-surface unnecessarily.
Two years on and it is now the time to truly celebrate. It was on the 27th of September 2006 that Viv walked out of the clinic after having his last treatment. Considerably skinnier and weaker than 8 weeks prior but relieved that the gruelling treatment period had come to a close. The quarterly examinations consisting of scans, X rays and intrusive camera procedures continued and on every occasion Dr Caba was happy with the results. The good Doctors big smile was an image Viv started to fall in love with as he knew what it meant.
By September 2007 Dr Caba felt confident enough to announce to Viv that in his opinion the disease was beaten. He could not see any trace of it anywhere. Now as we move forward another year and come up to date the loveable Dr Caba still upholds Viv’s all clear status and has reduced check up visits to twice a year.
Physically Viv is looking and feeling great. He is slightly slimmer than before his treatment period through his own choice. There are a few things however that as a result of the treatment will never go back to the way they were, which Viv is learning to accept. He still struggles with producing saliva so he is constantly armed with at least one bottle of water. It is improving – 6 months ago he would need 8 bottles to get round 18 holes of golf, now only 6 are required and he tells me his golf has improved, something I will need to see for myself.
The constant coughing and choking, especially in the morning has reduced considerably much to the relief of Avril. Viv’s taste-buds have found their feet once again although certain drinks such as Iced Tea still don’t go down like they use to. The skin is still so sensitive in his mouth that a heavy cough or sneeze can result in blood vessels rupturing causing a strong taste of blood in the mouth. Viv’s throat and neck are extremely sensitive to sun and heat rash is a common occurrence on his chest. Since finishing the treatment dental hygiene has been a major concern for Viv. Keeping the inside of his mouth clean and free of any foods is essential. Due to not being able to generate the sufficient amount of saliva and natural acids there is risk of tooth decay and gum problems.
One of Viv’s personal pleasures is now firmly back in his life – the taste of wine. He can now fully appreciate a fine Chardonnay and his fabulous wine collection is growing by the day. Beer is back on the menu also and he likes nothing better than to kick back after 18 holes with an ice cold Cristal in his hand. Nowadays however he likes to take it easy and accepts that keeping up with his young friends & employees is probably not a good idea. Although stronger than most, Viv has come to terms with the fact his physical strength is lacking slightly. Carrying heavy objects can be a struggle mainly due to breathing issues brought on from lack of saliva. This still doesn’t stop him trying though, he’s always the first to grab a box or lift a crate.
It’s extremely apparent that the whole experience has affected Viv on a mental level. He now tends to keep his emotions right at the surface and he won’t mind me saying that it doesn’t take much for the tears to start falling. Even a soppy chick flick will open those tear ducts and it’s just something that Viv can do nothing about. In a way he’s valuing the smaller things in life a great deal more than before and more importantly – appreciating them for what they are. He is now far more tolerant of people and difficult situations. Anyone that has known Viv for a long time knows that his fiery temperament and sometimes explosive personality are traits that many know him best for. He now takes his time to calmly assess every situation and respond in a laid back, calculated manner.
So what has Viv learnt from all of this? How has it change him as a Husband / Father / Son / Boss and ultimately as a man? Many people go their whole lives without fully appreciating not just the special moments, but every moment. Sometimes it takes something as terrible as cancer for a person to wake up. We are all guilty of it. We go about our daily lives until one day when we are 60 years of age we say ‘I wish I would have done this’ or ‘I wish I had tried that’. By then it’s too late. Viv has come out the other side of this ordeal a changed man. He now savours every experience. He is grateful for every sun rise and every sunset. He wants others who find themselves in the same situation as he found himself in to know that there is hope, there is every chance that with loved ones by your side and a desire to never give up, you can win. Viv was never going to let it be a death sentence, don’t let it be for you.