My Journey With Cancer – Part 1

I have always enjoyed traveling, I’ve been as far north as Sweden as far East as Laos and also Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. I always had some idea where my destination was going to be.

But this new journey was to be very different from the rest, with more dark twists, turns and elements of the unexpected then any of the others. This new journey began in January 2002.

I was then Assistant Supervisor in the Vitamin section of a very busy Pharmacy (Drug Store). I had just been promoted to this position after 12 months as a casual employee. It seemed to be taking a while to adjust to this new role, earlier starts, staying back to close the store, the commuting back and forth. I kept reaffirming myself “I’ll get used to it!”

Even when I heard a comment from the pharmacy manager via a colleague “is Alfred all right? He’s lost a lot of weight.”

“Yes I’m all right! Just getting used to it, another couple of weeks…”

The weeks went by, I was still losing weight, feeling tired, appetite was either absent or there was a craving for something specific that I just had to have!

One evening on the bus going home I started to cough, and cough and I felt nauseous. I got home, ran up the stairs, and just managed to get to the bathroom, where I vomited heavily. During the night I was sweating profusely, waking up completely drenched. Nevertheless I kept going: Catching a bus to the city in the morning, hurrying to the railway station, and then a train for the rest of the trip. So it went on, five days a week.

I had no energy to pursue anything after work. I’d get home, if I was hungry I would eat, but that’s it. I refused invitations from friends to go out, wouldn’t even meet them for a drink. One Saturday morning, I could hardly get out of bed. I felt so flat, could hardly eat, I stayed home, did nothing that weekend, but then returned to work on the Monday.

The thing is, I enjoyed my work; I was good at it. My training as a Medical Herbalist meant that I could consult customers, and help them choose the right vitamin or supplement, at times even handling complex cases. I enjoyed their interaction; I liked helping them and meeting their needs. I loved the feedback when I heard of some improvement in their condition. I liked keeping up with developments in natural health supplements, the expos, I liked my work colleagues, the business owners, everything! So I kept going.

Then one day my girlfriend confronted me with it. She was worried about my loss of weight. She knew I didn’t particularly like orthodox medicine, but she urged me to go and see a doctor. At first I refused, but I was coughing more, sweating more at nights, feeling weaker and weaker. Eventually I relented.

Next week: Part 2. A Visit to the Doctor.

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