Today saw me walk 3 miles this morning and receive the results from yesterday’s MRI scan. I also had in my mind a very clear theme reinforced by this wonderful quote below sent to me by a friend reminding me to seize the day and stop wasting the time I have been given by worrying about the time I have lost. Written at the start of 2007 by Mark Batterson, who was Pastor of the National Community Church in Washington DC, USA it was quoted in the Blogg of an amazing lady during her fight with ovarian cancer.

“You have a choice. When opportunity roars in this new year, you have a choice to make: run away or grab life by the tail. Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and the last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us, who can be against us?”

This quote, to me, epitomises in a nutshell what the challenge was absolutely all about for me when I quietly started it but by seizing the day and going for it I have found the challenge has grown to deliver so much more than I could have ever dreamed of in the hope, inspiration and encouragement the story of my crazy and continuing journey has given to others. So much of that hope, inspiration and encouragement has been delivered not by me but by the wonderful people I have met and the wonderful things they have done for me. By providing me hope, inspiration and encouragement they have given it to so many others too. I discovered this wonderful world and the wonderful people around me by opening my eyes, my ears and my mind to all that takes place around me every minute of every day. So then as I, this morning, travelled to the hospital in Edinburgh I opened up a reflection by Dr Micha Jazz and sent to me by the Premier Christian Media Group, which reminded me of the importance of stopping to take a moment and reflect, think, nurture my relationship with God, with friends and family, to make sound decisions based on fact and good advice from specialists or friends and/or family and by keeping my eyes, ears and mind open to guidance from God no matter what circumstances one finds oneself in: good or bad.  As I headed to Edinburgh to receive my results from yesterday’s MRI scan this was a very timely reminder on how to assimilate and then deal with the news whether good or bad.

I arrived at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, clocked in and sat down. ‘Not here Archie said another nurse. Kirsty is going to meet you in the Clinic so go there and she will meet you there.’ Great no need to give blood today then so happily rolled my sleeves back down and walked over to the clinic and sat and waited. And waited. And waited. ‘Hi Archie. Why are you here? You should be in the DCN clinic.’ It was the wonderful Kirsty from my brilliant Oncology team. ‘Oh sorry Kirsty I thought it was this clinic – How did you know I was here?’ ‘I just guessed you might be so checked before heading up to DCN. Shall I walk you up?’ Kirsty had rightly guessed that I might be a little confused as to where I should be with a sudden change in my treatment routine now that I am no longer taking Chemotherapy. Amazing and gathered me up in good time for the start of my Clinic with my Oncology Dr. With smiles on our faces we took the outside route to DCN making the most of the freshening breeze and light rain rather than tramping up the quite steep and sweltering corridor that runs along the spine of the hospital. As we walked we talked and I learned about Kirsty’s wonderful Christmas with friends and family and Kirsty learned about mine but the best bit – I didn’t think about the results. Not for one second. Brilliant Kirsty.

Once at the DCN clinic we started with all the toxicity questions to confirm that I was managing with the Chemo still fizzing away in the body. In fact I was able to report that I thought that things were getting marginally better. Then we hit some of the cognitive function tests to check that the brain was managing with the Chemo and Radiotherapy still fizzing away in the brain: repeat these words, remember these words, draw this symbol, write a coherent sentence. This one made me laugh because I knew perfectly well that Kirsty followed by progress on the challenge facebook page nearly every night. Maybe she was trying to tell me that my use of English in the posts was really poor!! Then came my favourite one. The 7 times table backwards from 101. You try it!! For the first time in 18 months of treatment I scored 100%!! This was really good news in that it meant that, with the exception of my new lactose intolerance, my mind and body had dealt really well with the load imposed upon it by the intensity of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. So there was a really good chance that by next April I really will be starting to feel more normal with greater energy levels. I really look forward to that day but right now came the call from my Dr. ‘Archie? Come in. Happy New Year to you. Take a seat.’ While it was great to see the Dr my mind was on one thing and one thing only so the short period of small talk that ensued was really important in settling my mind a little and giving me time to remind myself to stay grounded. Whatever the news the good Dr is going to give me. Stay grounded. Then I found myself asking, ‘I’m sorry Dr but what exactly does that mean?’ The Dr had spent a good deal of time breaking the report down for me in easily digestible chunks but when I tried to summarise it into a language I could understand I just couldn’t. It wasn’t a seizure, it wasn’t a brain freeze, I wasn’t me being stupid, I just didn’t think that I could take it all in. The Dr replied. ‘Archie what it means in simple English is that the Tumour is stable in all areas. In that it isn’t growing. In fact it is actually shrinking a little in certain areas. Archie, that is really good news!’ I was so very happy to hear such news. It is only a very small area of a very small amount of shrinkage but then the beast has had a 15 year head start so it is going to take some time and to shrink it, even just a little, was an outcome from the treatment that hadn’t been expected at all from the start. We were just trying to put it to sleep.

I asked if I might take a photo of my wonderful team but unfortunately it was against Hospital and department policy for good reason so I just had to constrain myself to a hand shake with my wonderful Dr but by the time I got to the reception area?………..poor Kirsty…………I couldn’t constrain myself any further. She got a hug!!

Once on the bus to Waverley I reflected on the news and rather than spinning like a spinning top in the excitement of the news I got out my prayer card and read the reflection I needed to get my head in to the right place. Good news but it hasn’t yet changed the price of fish with regards to any prognosis because the changes are so small so What Now?

The answer was clear. ‘Stop and ‘Take time to think, it is the source of power. Take time to play, it is the source of perpetual youth. Take time to read, it is the fountain of wisdom. Take time to pray, it is the greatest power on earth. Take time to love and be loved, it is a God-given privilege. Take time to be friendly, it is the road to happiness. Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul. Take time to give, it is too short a day to be selfish. Take time to work, it is the price of success. Take time to do charity, it is the key to heaven.’

The challenge continues. And so does the consuming of brazil nuts, coconut milk, tenderstem broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, dark chocolate and red wine every single day along with a freshly prepared evening meal nearly every evening! It seems to be working so far. Just a long, long way to go. But I always have a decaf Mocha and a flapjack to look forward to as a treat after each successful challenge day completed!!

Thank you for all your support and encouragement both on the challenge page but also as I go about the challenge activities. It has been brilliant in providing me so many wonderful stories to write about and it is those stories that have helped me and so many others fighting their own battles with the hope, inspiration and encouragement they provide.

Thank you

Yours aye