2 months post-diagnosis, I thought I might share various thoughts on the “cancer battle”. The following, of course, represents my own personal views and I can’t speak for the entire cancer community, but I speak as honestly and directly as I can.
It’s a Lovely War
In many ways, once diagnosed I felt as if I had been enlisted into an army fighting the evil C empire. Living in an acute/terminal ward, to put it delicately, ‘rooms become available’. Or, as Tim puts it, people ‘go up to the 20th floor’. Death is everywhere and it is astonishing how quickly one gets used to it. Of course it is terrible to hear of a death, and to witness a family mourning, but very quickly one refocuses and gets back to the matter at hand: one’s own survival. There is also a sense of camaraderie among fellow patients and a mutual moral support system that arises, just as I imagine arises in a battling army. The haircuts are remarkably similar as well.
It seems paradoxical that despite the completely overwhelming and miraculous support from family, friends and wonderful strangers, I face the core of this challenge alone: My body, my mind, my mortality and my life. So at once cancer has brought me a level of interconnectedness with humanity and a degree of autonomy previously unimaginable. It feels as if the love and wishes of many give me the strength to face this challenge alone and without fear. And I’m not scared- I know I ‘should’ be – but I am not.
I am a non-smoker, rarely drink (as anybody who has drunk with me will attest), am a ‘healthy eater’ and before my diagnosis exercised daily. So why did this happen to me? “No idea,” my doctors, who happen to be very intelligent and learned, say. So will I become one of those examples cited by smokers and drinkers as a reason to continue with an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’? Quite possibly. However, if I get through this, I will continue living as healthily as my commitment will allow. Why? Well two reasons:
- Quality of Life. I prefer to live without, for example, a dependence of cigarettes and the associated breathing difficulties. Even if I knew I would never contract a life-threatening disease from smoking, I would not choose to do it.
- If anything happens… I would not like to have entered the first few weeks of my treatment without healthy lungs, liver and kidneys. No way. No siree bob. If cancer IS completely random, then it could hit anybody at any time; and if it does hit, trust me, you want us much going for you as possible.
I just want to live. I am nowhere near finished with what I want to do on this planet, and to leave now… well, it would be just untidy and rather rude. So I’ll do what I can, I’ll take any treatment to give me every chance of getting through this. A side-effect of one of my chemotherapy treatments is numbness and tingling of the fingertips. I have this and have no guarantee that it will go away. You know how much I love playing the guitar, but if that’s what’s needed to live, bring it on! As I have mentioned before, my priorities have now become concrete. Many things in life, are laughably unimportant. But the stuff that I value now – I will never stop fighting for.
Love & Peace,
New track – ‘Chemo Burn’ is up!! Check it out on the music page now!
To mark the passing of the one-month anniversary of MiltCentral.com, I felt it opportune to write a short message to you all outlining my current medical situation.
First of all, as always, I must thank you for the incredible love & support I have received around the world from family, friends & ‘strangers’. It is deeply appreciated and inexpressibly powerful. Thank you all!
I have just reached the end of Phase II of my chemo treatment. Phase I (4-5 weeks), you may recall, dealt with the initial leukaemic condition and continued with weekly chemo sessions interspersed with many L-Aspaganase injections (The painful ‘arse-shots’ that the international community seemed to enjoy me receiving!)
At the end of Phase I, I was in ‘remission’; there was no visible evidence of leukaemia in my body. This is, of course, good news but is nothing resembling cure. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) tends to come back and fast – it is generally just a matter of time before it returns after remission.
Phase II was heavy: 11 doses of chemo received in 6 days straight. Fairly tough going, made slightly more surreal by writing, recording and filming the Christmas single & video in the middle of it all! This was followed by a 3-4 week recovery period, when my flattened blood levels were allowed to return to normal. During this period a truckload of antibiotics were administered to help protect me form the countless germs out there.
I am very pleased to announce today’s neutrophil level as 1.1! This not only marks the end of Phase II, but because of a fast recovery, I have the added bonus of a week at home! I haven’t been home for almost two months, and haven’t even left the ROOM for 3 weeks!
Phase III starting on 24/1/05 is a 4-week session starting with a delightful 24-hour chemo session. After Phase III, we embark on the grand finale: Bone Marrow Transplant. This is, in its entirety, a 3-6 month process and I will be documenting it fully.
Am I scared? Nah…
Best wishes and love to you all,
Milton has finally given that infection the kick up the arse it deserves! He is feeling much better for it and thanks everyone for their support. Incidentally he may get knocked down, but he seems to GET UP AGAIN!
Milton Breaks Through!!!
To top it all, the 0.0 neutrophil count curse has been broken. On Tuesday, Milton has a staggering count of 0.1! Once it hits the big 1.0, he can even leave the room for a while! These may seem trifling rewards, but trust us, they are not!
Virtual School of Rock
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Milton taught at the Royal Academy of Music via webcam! These were review sessions before Friday’s exam (which was completed in the ward). “The students were delighted,” Milton said.
Milton has been composing abstract electronic music completely based on his blood results. Daily values are interpreted into musical data. Every sound is there because of a reading. Milton chose how each blood level links to each musical value and then it was a “hands-off” approach. Each day represents a bar, and each bar is one second long, mapping his medical history, clearly. Check it out, on the music page, just don’t expect Mozart!
Milton’s new video is one of his favourites and breaks the mould of the whole Chemotherapy/Hospital Ward/Cancer film genre. Not to be missed…
We start the year with an incredible 14,000 visits!
Milton’s neutrophil level is rock bottom(0.0), which means few visitors and low energy, but he’s feeling better all the time. Just consuming his 12th bag of blood overall – all you people who donated: you are making a real positive difference to other peoples’ lives. Rock on!
Bridget, Jimi, Milton and his mum spent a lovely New Year’s Eve jamming jazz standards (okay, not Milton’s mum) and watching the incredible firework display over London.
Milton is presently struggling with infection – but is determined to get through with as little discomfort as possible. He is still editing video and responding to messages, but new tunes may have to wait a couple of days…