Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Greg’s Greatest Journey – 6 July 2008

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Weekly update letter …

I am fortunate to have a great family and a great network of friends, locals, bloggers and health professionals following my fight so I am going to try a weekly update in the form of a letter. I have also replaced the ambiguity of the chess board with the Border Mail photo as I am feeling far more positive than when I first used the other photo.

Dear friends,

I am so frustrated at the moment

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and a typical latter-life low back ache somewhere below the kidneys but feeling quite OK. Everyone seems surprised that I look so healthy … are they just being nice or were they expecting to see me near death?

I have no sense of dying in the foreseeable future yet, as I have been told, this cancer is in it’s final stages and is extremely aggressive. It would appear that I have had the damned thing for many years – early stage cancers have a life expectancy of ten years or more – how many of those years have I been unaware? At least, I have been able to ‘live’ those years rather than ‘survive’ them.

It has been a busy week with the Border Mail regional newspaper writing an article on my journey. That was followed by our cow calving on Tuesday and then dying on Thursday of suspected milk fever. On a hobby farm, the cattle have personas and it hits harder than if one had a herd of cattle where this is an occupational hazard. I then had to find a home for the two day old bull calf and dispose of his mother’s carcass. Once again, the local community came to the rescue and the first friend I asked had no hesitation in taking over. I love these people.

Pauline is finally taking a break from the caring role trying to relax at her daughters place in Canberra and, after being confined with her for the last three months. it is bloody lonely around here without her. She tells me on the phone that she is not sleeping any better and is still feeling tired. Emotionally though, she is definitely calmer. Thank God she was not around when the cow died.

Pauline left first thing Thursday morning and my daughter Lisa and her family stayed Thursday night on their way through to visiting Richards family at Tallangatta. They will be staying over again tonight on their way home. On Saturday, Pauline’s brother Gary and his wife Janet from Melbourne dropped in with lunch on their way to Yarrawonga. I have all this activity and I still miss Pauline – she will be home Tuesday.

The pain management appears to be coming into place – after three months of failure – and I am down to one pain breakthrough event a week. Until now, I have had nothing but panadol forte and ibuprofin to deal with this. At long last – and I feel far too late – I have been prescribed morphine syrup that cuts through the pain within half an hour where it was previously up to two hours before … every night around 3 a.m.

The feedback from the Border Mail story has brought me a couple of new friends that have helped put things in perspective for me. Dianne has been to hell and back with bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy and total depression fighting Leukemia over the last ten years. The other is Priscilla who lost her husband in a truck accident just last year and has had to live with not having the chance to say goodbye. There was an instant rapport with both women and I expect to talk with them often along the way.

I will write again next week. Keep them cards and letters/emails coming in – I love them.

Your’s sincerely

Written by Greg Naylor

6 July 2008 at 12:12 pm

9 Responses

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  1. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  2. That’s a kick in the head about your cow Greg, I don’t cope well with animal death myself, I think almost always they are more noble than the human species.
    She delivered her calf safely into the world, I’d say that’s “mission accomplished” for any mother, at a guess I’d say she might feel a bit of disappointment at not getting to be with her calf, but mostly releif that through the next generation she gets to live on.

    Mate, if you’ve got pain, take something.
    There’s no point being stubborn, seriously I’ve seen a lot of people make limited time un-necissarily unpleasant for both themselves and their loved ones through misguided stoicism.

    I’m not saying you are doing that, I’m just saying you wouldn’t be the first.

    I wasn’t being polite when I said you looked well, like I said, you kind of prepare yourself to see the worst and when you don’t…the person looks well.

    Animal death and pain, sounds like the basis of a bad day to me, sounds pretty normal to be upset I’d say.


    6 July 2008 at 2:31 pm

  3. Jack, I’ve got so much to say about that! On a small property, the animals are family. Most of mine know I’m in trouble. They have taught me more about raw honest life than I have learned from all the people I have ever met. I can appreciate where the true ‘pagan’ is coming from.

    Jack, you spoke of the cow living on through her calf and I have previously talked about the spirit of loved ones dwelling within us. This must have something to do with the notion of immortality and existence beyond death. What say you?

    The pain thing has been through lack of proper prescription of medications. I’m no hero – pain hurts! The palliative care folk finally jumped on my case to get it happening – 3 months mucking around was not funny.

    When a visitor yesterday said, “Gee, you look good”, I actually responded saying that it might be because I have come to peace with it all and am already well prepared for the future. Do you think that could be true?

    Greg Naylor

    6 July 2008 at 2:56 pm

  4. The best friends I have ever had have had four legs not two, my personal view is that all sentient beings have a soul, it doesn’t keep me from enjoying a lamb roast from time to time, but it does make me treat food with respect.

    If a creature gave it’s life for a meal, the absolute least I can do is take care to prepare it properly, enjoy it and not waste a sceric.

    Food wastage just pisses me off.

    I think sometimes people can see having kids as a way of cheating death.
    Paradoxically, over-population is the greatest threat to the survival of our species in my opinion.

    I don’t have kids and don’t plan to, I realise one day we all die. I never felt the need to bestow my genes on another generation.
    I believe my spirit (or whatever you like to call it) will live on in other ways, the plants and animals I nurture, the causes I support and so on.

    My “spiritual kin” if you like.


    6 July 2008 at 3:36 pm

  5. Also, even though I don’t believe religion as such has anything of benefit to offer humanity, I do believe in the perpetuity of the spirit.

    I believe the nature of it may change, but I believe that the essential nature at the core of what makes us ourselves is a form of energy, and energy in nature can never be destroyed, it merely changes form.

    Heat, light, movement, radiation, or stored as chemical bonds.
    Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes form.


    6 July 2008 at 3:40 pm

  6. Greg, I’m sure you’ll feel a bit better once Pauline gets home. I love our two Cavaliers too but nothing would replace my partner’s (and children’s) comfort and love if I were in your shoes.


    6 July 2008 at 6:10 pm

  7. Jack: Last week, I diligently wrote four pages of rhetoric to try and explain how I interpret life … and you have just reduced my life’s philosophy to it’s base level. You’ve got it, man!

    To my mind, the energy of human existence is electronic. As you say, it is neither created nor destroyed. When I am finished here, my electronic energy will return to recharge the source and will be used all over again.

    Ray: Thanks for the empathy friend. It’s ironic that whilst we know how important loving and caring are to our prosperity, we step back and give them the freedom to make their own lives. I mean, how great is it that I get the opportunity to let them know their importance in my life.

    Greg Naylor

    6 July 2008 at 11:36 pm

  8. Dear Greg,

    I saw your article in the news paper. Good on ya to get it out there!

    The Specialist Palliative Care people are great to have as support! My dad was diagnosed with end stage prostate cancer and he is still going well 13 months later. I would like to suggest to take on board everything what the Palliative Care people recommend as they know best how to improve your quality of life. This quality of life is also only possible if the appropriate therapy is optimally applied by yourself.

    ann arian

    9 July 2008 at 9:02 pm

  9. Welcome Ann

    It is good to hear of your dad’s survival over that time. If he wants to talk with another with advanced cancer, please get back to me for contact details.

    I have already found the importance of palliative care. Whilst one’s GP is dealing with all phases of living, palliative care really understand the dying process so much more intimately. At first, I was a bit disturbed that they might be overriding my local GP, but I soon found they were more experienced in their sklls. They are these for me 24/7 whether it be physical, emotinal or practical assistane that I might need.

    Greg Naylor

    9 July 2008 at 9:43 pm

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