Sunday, 31 August 2014

10 keys to happiness...

10 keys to happiness by Deepak Chopra:

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.
2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.
3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn't good for you.
4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.
5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.
6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.
7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.
8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.
9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.
10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Zimbabwe - loved it!

How many times in our lives do we go from Wednesday to Saturday and ever remember much of what happened a few weeks later?

When I packed I took a note book to record a diary, but it wasn't needed. Every moment was precious, be it sight, sound, smell, taste or feeling, it was all new to me; I was on overload!

The flight from Johannesburg to Harare was an hour and 40 minutes marked half way by the Limpopo River, also the border between the countries. I've never seen it at ground level but from 36,000 feet it looked huge! Harare airport is small with only 3 gates, but very personal. When I didn't know the address of the  person I was staying with, security escorted me out front to ask the guy who was collecting me, then back to passports control.

I was in Harare to represent and introduce our company, e-perceptum, at a head-teachers conference. Along with our partner technology company we were invited to the University as part of an ongoing government initiative, to expand e-learning throughout the country. Before the start of the presentation I suddenly developed a gusher of a nose bleed, going through a whole toilet roll in 15 minutes. Security fetched a nurse, a doctor followed from a nearby practice, a bit of an overkill for a nose bleed I thought. I joked that I always get nose bleeds when I listen to teachers talking for over 5 hours, but it fell on deaf ears. The first question was, "Have you come from Nigeria?" Ah! Ebola! One of the symptoms is nose bleed, suddenly it all fell into place. A quick temperature check and I was cleared and people started walking close to me again!
Quick sandwich before we went on stage

Our presentation film on DVD along with flyers and information at our stand went out to all delegates, and the following day was peppered with meetings and phone calls. I can't give any detail really because that's the way it works there. If you behave and show respect, they reciprocate, then you can make great progress.

I stayed with a wonderful family who were building, while living in their house, way out in the countryside on a gently sloping hillside. No toilet yet, just a hole in the ground which could have been bigger, but then you wouldn't have wanted to fall through that space!

The children thought it hilarious every time I paid a visit, and I made loud noises as I pushed so not to disappoint. On the last day I took imodium as a treat; one days rest from that bloody hole was worth the constipation. 

We also had a braai (bbq) the night before I left, and the african sunset was one hell of a backdrop as the men and women talked and laughed and the children played. Nobody drank alcohol, it was a 4 day dry out to me but it felt great. I was an 'elder'! Yes, in Africa it's different when you're old. I explained to the bemused throng that in the UK, families put their old people in special homes to die with other old people. Often smelly places where they get very depressed and lonely. In Africa, the elders are respected by all for their experience and knowledge and are always the first to be considered and consulted in everything that goes on. You might think Africa is still a bit primitive but believe me, I was shown great respect in Zimbabwe by everyone, regardless of their age or economic circumstances.

But back to earlier…I got the chance to walk around Harare for a few hours by myself. I was the only white person, I didn't see anyone else that even came close! I knew I was in 'real Africa' for sure. Everyone spoke English along with their own tongue, something you couldn't claim in London. I bought a handmade shoe brush from a street seller, I wanted a souvenir that would remind me of Harare every-time I used it. I wasn't to notice the 'made in China' label until later that day! A man rooting in a bin pulled out a half eaten sandwich and started to tuck in. I pulled out the 2 dollars I'd just been given in change for the brush and held it out to him. He looked at me and said, "I have everything I need, give it to that man over there", pointing at an old chap in a wheel chair who had no legs. I went over and offered him the money. He said, "I'm not a beggar, why are you giving this to me?" I explained that I hadn't assumed he was a beggar, but that the young man eating the sandwich had asked me to give him the money. He took it, thanked me and acknowledged the other man with a slight wave. I'll never forget that or the lesson behind it.

Was I familiar with the '3 bucket system'? I said yes because, what could be complicated about 3 buckets at wash time? I entered the room and hey, just to add to it, there were 4, not 3 buckets!
I brushed my teeth and scooped a big handful of water from the green bucket to rinse my mouth. Tasted funny, mouth went a bit tingly and numb, thought maybe that's the way water tastes here. The other buckets were simply hot and cold, but this was to be nowhere as easy as having a shower. It took ages sloshing water on, especially around those difficult areas! I later found that the mouth wash was a chlorine based sanitizer!

Never carry a fully fired up braai into the house! Why? Mmm let me think! Firstly there are kids running everywhere, secondly it's very hot, and thirdly? Yes, it might just fill the house with fumes so that nobody can breathe!
5 minutes later, sure enough, we were all back outside coughing and laughing!

Thank you Batsie and Prisca for making me part of your family and friends for 4 amazing days, I look forward to our next trip over in the very near future. There are good times ahead for the people of Zimbabwe and a bright future for your children, I'm certain of that. I'm sorry I didn't eat the liver at breakfast time but I tried to make up for it with the beef and papa later that day.

Here are a few more photos…

Sugar cane

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tribute to Robin Williams...

So sad to hear that Robin Williams has passed away today. I remember watching Mork & Mindy and thinking, hey, there is a better place out there. An amazingly funny guy who made me laugh out loud, and not many can do that. We are watching 'Good morning Vietnam' tonight in remembrance of this great and oh so funny man.

Things that Robin said that made me laugh….

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“I was an only child. I did have kind of like a lonely existence. The idea of being a character who is kind of isolated, I can relate to that.”
“But only in their dreams can men be truly free It was always thus and always thus will be.”
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”
“Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.”
“After I quit drinking, I realized I am the same asshole I always was; I just have fewer dents in my car.”
“Ah, yes, divorce … from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.”
“If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”
“Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.”

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Is there rabbit in 'Bunny Chow'?...

Had my first 'Bunny Chow' yesterday, loved it but couldn't finish. This dish can be just about anything, served in a hollowed out loaf, or half loaf of bread. You're supposed to eat it all, but after I'd finished the beef curry, there was no chance of eating the bread. Top quality food though and at less than £5 you can't go wrong!

Been in South Africa 9 months now and in theory, 3 months left to go because that's when our rental contract expires. But then what? Well either the work that we have will keep flowing and keep us here for a while, or we will head off to Jaipur in India come the end of November. Christmas in India? Never had such uncertainty in my life! My Dad used to say, "When your life becomes certain, end it". I prefer, 'change it'. 

Wish I could write stuff about what my kids are up to, but they have completely banned me from that. They don't want their private lives splattered all over the internet, which I understand. With my parents, everything was a secret, everything was private. "Don't tell the neighbours", my Mum would say, "What would they think?" As I grew older I realised that people have enough on their own plates without the triviality of thinking what I'm doing. But wouldn't it be nice to imagine that one day, if I had grandchildren, I could announce it on here and show a wee photo or two! 

I heard on the news that the UK will soon have everyone on 'super-fast broadband', with speeds of up to 80 Mb/s. Currently they are struggling with speeds as low as 12 Mb/s in some areas! Wow! I had to laugh because on average our download speed here rarely hits 2, is mainly below 1.5 Mb/s and often, it's just gone! We've got used to downloading films overnight so that we don't have to watch them live, and pausing to catch up for 3 minutes every 2 minutes. I think of it as 'African speed' because nothing happens fast here, and in general, I like that.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

We have lost a great man today in Terry Herbert...

It was very, very sad to hear the news today that Terry Herbert had passed away in Australia. He founded YANA after being diagnosed with prostate cancer about 12 years ago. It stood for 'You Are Not Alone', and became a support and awareness group for thousands of men worldwide. When you joined you certainly realised that you were not alone. Although I never met Terry in person, we knew each other very well through our numerous communications. In the early days of my diagnosis he gave me sound advice on winning the mental battle and started me off on the road to helping others. It's hard to believe he's gone, but I'm sure YANA and the memory of Terry Herbert will live on with us all. He was from South Africa originally, and it is from here that I send condolences to his family and friends for their sad loss.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Yorkshire Day…let's celebrate

Happy 'Yorkshire Day' to Yorkshire folk around the world.
I moved from Essex to Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1967 and what a great escape that was!
My partner Beverley was born in Leeds and grew up in Barnsley. Now if you want to see a town that's still very Yorkshire, go to Barnsley.
What I'd give to be in Yorkshire today!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Prostate Cancer UK…

Visit the 'Prostate Cancer- UK' website. You'll find just about everything you need to know, and you can even do 'live- chat' with specialist nurses.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Androgen Deprivation Therapy, all you need to know...

Lucy Frisch
Associate Publicist, Demos Health

11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor

New York, NY 10036

(T) 212-804-6337

Having reviewed this book I found it amazingly helpful and full of sound, practical advise. 
If you want a copy please contact Lucy (details above)

In the days before prostate-specific antigen (PSA) could be measured by a blood test, it was common for men to appear in the doctor’s office complaining about pain, which would turn out to be due to the spread of prostate cancer to their bones. The standard therapy at that time was orchiectomy, or surgical removal of the testicles. The testicles produce testosterone, a male hormone, or androgen, known to stimulate the growth of prostate cancer. In the early 1940s, this procedure had been shown to relieve pain due to metastatic prostate cancer, and thus became the “gold standard” for treating the disease. The early 1980s saw the approval of injectable drugs called gonadotropin- releasing hormone (GnRH, also called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, LHRH) analogs, which offered a much-needed alternative to the permanent orchiectomy. Since these drugs could turn off the testicular production of the androgen testosterone, the treatment was called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Many men opted for the drugs rather than orchiectomy. Soon after the GnRH analogs became available, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the PSA test. Over time, this test allowed us to find a whole new population of prostate cancer patients, namely, those men who had had surgery or radiation for localized prostate cancer and who now had a rising PSA measurement without any evidence of disease having spread to their bones or elsewhere. This condition is commonly called “biochemical relapse” because only the blood test indicates return of the cancer. Out of concern for the continuously rising PSA, we often started ADT, even though the men did not have any evidence of metastases. In most cases, ADT was very successful in bringing the PSA down to undetectable levels for long periods of time.
However, I began to hear from patients treated with ADT shots for biochemical relapse that they were feeling fatigued and experiencing a whole host of other symptoms. In the past, I had often encountered men with metastatic disease, who had either started the ADT injections or had had an orchiectomy, complain of fatigue. My na├»ve response was, “Of course you have some fatigue. You have metastatic prostate cancer.” But now a light bulb went off: the fatigue and other symptoms experienced by the biochemical relapse patients were from the ADT! Unlike the men I had encountered earlier in my practice, these men did not have metastases and had been feeling fine before the shots were started. Thus began an era of intense clinical research on the effects of ADT on the physiology, psychology, and cognitive functioning of men so treated.
The list of potential side effects of ADT is lengthy, and the list of different ways to address these side effects is even longer. Busy physicians may have only enough time to skim over these details, leaving the patient and his family unprepared for what to expect. In spite of our best efforts to educate patients and their partners about ADT, we often still feel we are not doing enough.
I met Richard Wassersug in 2006, when he came to Seattle for a visit. He was interested in intermittent ADT, and we met in a conference room with Monique Cherrier, PhD, my colleague who has collaborated with me in studying the effects of ADT on cognitive function. Dr. Wassersug explained that he was a scientist who primarily studied amphibian developmental biology, but, more importantly for our conversation, he was a man who had prostate cancer. As a scientist, he was a keen observer of the side effects of ADT and was also doing some laboratory and clinical research with colleagues in Halifax on the effects of ADT. Through research, personal observation, and staying in tune with men treated with ADT all over the world via Internet blogs and websites, Dr. Wassersug has accumulated a vast understanding of the side effects, how to explain them, and how to talk with men about dealing with them.
Around the same time as my meeting him, Dr. Wassersug sought out  Dr. Robinson of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Soon they began collaborating. Dr. Robinson, a renowned psychosocial oncologist working with couples affected by cancer, clearly valued the dual perspective of Dr. Wassersug, the prostate cancer patient, and Dr. Wassersug, the research scientist.
Dr. Robinson and his then student, Lauren Walker, have since then been collaborating with Dr. Wassersug on various projects related to ADT. Dr. Wassersug found in Drs. Robinson and Walker specialized clinical skills, patient education expertise, and invaluable knowledge of a broad range of patient experiences. Equally passionate about improving the lives of men on ADT, these three individuals, plus other collaborators along the way, have significantly changed the ways in which patients are cared for while on ADT.
As a research team, Drs. Wassersug, Robinson, and Walker have found that patients and their partners remain poorly informed about the side effects of ADT. They established an ADT Working Group of about 20 professionals (i.e., researchers and clinicians) that make recommendations about the psychosocial care of men on ADT. Their research has demonstrated considerable variability in the information that health care professionals believe to be essential to provide to patients. As a team, Drs. Wassersug, Robinson, and Walker have worked to develop educational initiatives for patients, partners, and health care professionals, to help patients prepare for and manage the changes associated with ADT. This book is the culmination of several years of their work.
This book is different from consultations with specialists or conversations with nurses and doctors: it is something you can take home, read, and work on at your own pace, on your own time. You can read it in whatever order is of interest, skipping sections that may not be significant to you at this time, or going back and reviewing specific sections later. Importantly, this book emphasizes the impact of ADT on partners, so if you have one, it is highly recommended that you read it with him or her. It turns out that ADT can profoundly affect your relationships, so it is critical to address all parties concerned, not just the one receiving ADT.
This is not just a book that you read; it is a book that you do. It will serve as a reference and will complement whatever your medical team has taught you. It will allow you and your partner to better understand what is going on, and why, and it will help you to better deal with some of the side effects of ADT. It is a fantastic resource for patients and their families that is long overdue. As Sir Francis Bacon said in 1597, “knowledge is power.” Get going on doing this book, and in the process take back the power that prostate cancer has been stealing from you. You’ll be glad you did.

Celestia (Tia) Higano, MD
Professor, Medical Oncology Division
University of Washington, School of Medicine
Seattle, Washington

Friday, 18 July 2014

I am now a 'temporary resident' of South Africa...

Proud to say that I am now a 'temporary resident' of this amazing country, which means I can live here for up to 4 years and come and go as I please. I have all the rights of a permanent resident, except I can't vote! Also, I can now apply for permanent residency. Wish I'd done that when I was 15, but things were very different here then.

Monday, 14 July 2014


Today, Tuesday 15th July 2014 this blog made 60,000 hits!!!! Thank you from all around the world, and I hope this will be a place that you can come back to and feel comfortable with in the future.
"Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed".
Who said that?


If you are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in Cumbria 2014...

North Cumbria University Hospital's Trust has just been inspected and it's not a good read. See full report here REPORT
It ranked very well on 'caring', but caring isn't enough when you might have something life threatening.

So, what if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and you live in Cumbria.
The message is still the same as when I was diagnosed in June 2010 at the Cumberland Infirmary by Mr Bashir. Get the hell out of there!

You are allowed to go to any hospital in the UK for treatment but you should research well before making that choice. I went to Addenbrookes, undoubtedly one of the finest specialist hospitals in this field.

There are others in London, Birmingham and Manchester, but do your homework as your life expectancy could depend on it.

Be careful when asking your own doctor for advise, they are highly unlikely to recommend you leave the local trust for treatment. They have a vested interest in supporting their colleagues, often friends at the local hospitals. 

If in doubt, please contact me and I'll talk you through this. It's when you are first diagnosed that you are most vulnerable, but it's also the time you have to make crucial decisions.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Links to Han, Partin and other risk calculators...

Han tables

The Han tables correlate the three common factors known about a man’s prostate cancer, PSA level, Gleason score, and clinical stage (or pathological stage). While The Partin Tables are used to predict pathological stage, the Han Tables are used to predict the probability of prostate cancer recurrence up to 10 years following surgery. Based on the result of the probability of recurrence, men and their doctors can decide the best course of treatment after surgery. 

Partin tables

The Partin tables use clinical features of prostate cancer - Gleason score, serum PSA and clinical stage - to predict whether the tumour will be confined to the prostate. The tables are based on the accumulated experience of urologists performing radical prostectomy at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. For decades, urologists around the world have relied on the tables for counselling patients preoperatively and for surgical planning.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Abiraterone can give prostate cancer sufferers years of relief before chemo

Abiraterone can give prostate cancer sufferers years of relief before chemo.


  • But Nice has made 'bizarre' decision to ban use of the drug.
  • Now an MP has called on Department of Health to act over ban.

The rationing watchdog Nice is poised to make a ‘bizarre’ decision that would needlessly condemn men to hair loss and other unpleasant side effects from chemotherapy, it is claimed.
The drug abiraterone can give men with advanced prostate cancer months or even years of relief before they need chemotherapy, but Nice insists chemo must be used first.
More than 3,000 men benefited from the drug last year via the Cancer Drugs Fund in England, special funding used for medication not approved for routine NHS use.
It was the second most-requested treatment – around one in six total requests – and they were all for use prior to chemotherapy.
Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP, said the Department of Health must step in to halt the plan.
The ex-Minister of State in the Department of Health himself intervened when he was in charge two years ago after Nice threatened not to allow the drug to be used at all.
As a result Nice did a U-turn and doctors were allowed to give the drug on the NHS after chemo.
But advances mean it could now be used earlier in treatment with men having fewer side effects and improved quality of life before needing chemotherapy.


The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says the drug would not be cost-effective at this stage of treatment.
Mr Burstow said ‘The idea of restricting the drug so men have to have chemotherapy first, when their hair may fall out and they suffer other side effects, seems bizarre.
‘There is no reason why this drug could not be assessed in the same way as before, giving men added quality of life towards the end of their life.’
The drug abiraterone can give men with advanced prostate cancer months or even years of relief before they need chemotherapy. Pictured, prostate cancer cells.
The drug abiraterone can give men with advanced prostate cancer months or even years of relief before they need chemotherapy. Pictured, prostate cancer cells.

He has written to the current health minister Jane Ellison urging her to act as he did in 2012 to prevent the ban as there would be guarantee it would remain available to patients before chemo and some might not get it all.
Campaigners say the latest plan is stark evidence of the neglect of sufferers from a disease that strikes 40,000 British men each year.
Some Britons have survived on abiraterone for almost five years.
The official price of a month’s treatment is £3,000 but the NHS pays less through a discount scheme from manufacturer Janssen.
Cancer Research UK says the plan makes no sense as the drug is likely to be more effective before chemotherapy.
Abiraterone, also known as Zytiga, was developed by British scientists.

'He experienced none of the weariness and fatigue that he had with other medications.

'Abiraterone allowed my husband to live an independent life and it delayed the use of doxetaxel chemotherapy'

- Christine Emerson, wife of a prostate cancer sufferer

Professor Paul Workman, Deputy Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, where the drug was developed, said: ‘Abiraterone is now used as standard after chemotherapy and has extended the lives of thousands of men in the UK with advanced prostate cancer, with fewer side-effects than chemotherapy.
‘The decision to refuse use of abiraterone before chemotherapy will deny many thousands of men the opportunity to access the drug earlier in their course of treatment.’
Christine Emerson, 61, who lives with her 66-year-old husband Terry in north-west London, says he was fortunate in getting the drug for eight months before he needed chemotherapy.
She said ‘It gave him a good quality of life with no side effects at all. It has given him further quality time with his family.
‘He experienced none of the weariness and fatigue that he had with other medications.
‘Abiraterone allowed my husband to live an independent life and it delayed the use of doxetaxel chemotherapy.
‘Once that failed, the tumour in his spine progressed and he is now confined to a wheelchair and also has the debilitating effects of the chemotherapy treatment.’
In 2012, Nice attempted to ban the use of abiraterone altogether but was forced into a U-turn after a public outcry and a rare intervention from the Department of Health.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Prostate Cancer UK said ‘It is no secret that we think it deplorable that abiraterone pre-chemotherapy could be denied for use on the NHS in England and Wales.
‘We know first hand from those who have been able to access abiraterone through the cancer drugs fund for use in this way, that it can offer a vital chance to delay chemotherapy and the debilitating side effects which can come with it.
‘We have urged Janssen and NICE to work together to do everything in their power to make this vital treatment available as soon as possible for all who need it. We welcome any intervention which could lead to the right decision being made for men.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said ‘Abiraterone is already available through our Cancer Drugs Fund to prostate cancer patients.’

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