"I am regularly asked about my current state of health by so many people so have decided to provide a health summary and update as my post today.
As most of you will know, prior to December 2016, I had a terminal cancer of the blood called Chronic Lymphocitic Leukemia (CLL).This condition was diagnosed in 2013 and became active within the same year. Once my cancer became active, I was informed it could never be cured and would require treating with chemotherapy as it advanced through the terminal stages.
A major by-product of my cancer is that my bone marrow doesn't function and I have no immune system with which to fight off any infection. Consequently, if I come into near contact with anyone with a cold or a bug, I will deteriorate within hours. Their cold becomes my pneumonia and stands a 50/50 chance of killing me off. At the very least, I will be bed-bound for 3-6 months and have no contact with the outside world and visitors to our home during the recuperation period.
Since 2013, I have spent 6 months, 6 months, 5 months and 9 months respectively either in bed, in hospital, receiving three-weekly blood transfusions, or physically housebound. I have also received two six-month courses of chemotherapy; the first in 2014 and more recently in 2017. In early 2016, I also developed facial skin cancer which was successfully treated during that year.
I effectively live my days playing Russian Roulette with my life whenever I leave the house or receive visitors. Each time I come into close contact with any person with a cold, infection, bug, or share the same breathing space as them, or shake an unclean hand, I know that the consequences could be potentially life-threatening for me.
Consequently, because I choose to live my life for as long as possible, and because I want to live a life instead of merely 'existing', I have no intention of living it as a hermit or not as satisfying as possible. I compromise, by minimising the danger as much as possible. I avoid crowds, keep visitors to one or two at a time, and limit my contact with the most infectious human species of all; paradoxically, the ones I love the most; children.
On Boxing Day, 2016, I suddenly became very ill and was admitted as an emergency patient to the hospital. Over the next two months as an inpatient on an intensive care ward, I came close to death twice and even had a DNR placed in my medical file. I entered hospital having two cancers and quickly discovered the presence of a third cancer; a Lymphoma which would most certainly have killed me (which it almost twice did anyway), had it been discovered a month later. Numerous tests showed that my initial cancer of CLL had transformed into a deadlier and more aggressive cancer (Richter's Transformation) that manifested itself as Lymphoma. When I eventually got over the worse, I then received another six-month course of aggressive chemotherapy. Please note, that whilst at death's door for almost two months in the hospital, the thought never once entered my head how seriously poorly I was.
I have been seen by my cancer consultant twice since my last chemotherapy treatment ended. I saw my consultant two days ago, and after an examination, she told me that the Lymphoma was in remission; leaving me now with just my terminal blood cancer of CLL to deal with. Because I am on eradiated blood, plus other complications I won't go into, I can never benefit from marrow transplant or any of the other options open to some patients with CLL. My consultant was surprised, yet very happy with my progress over the past six months and advised me to continue with the health regime and daily routine I have now firmly established as being the best one to follow, with the aim of maintaining stability for as long as possible.
I would like to thank all of you again for your thoughts, your daily prayers and your kind comments over the years; particularly during 2017 that started off very stormy. The multitude of prayers and masses given on my behalf were not only greatly appreciated by myself and Sheila, but I am convinced, helped me through my most dangerous moments. The love of my life, Sheila, has been both angel and rock for me throughout, and in all truth, I would rather be facing death with her by my side than living my life into old age without her (Please note, I don't consider 75 years as being old!). Indeed, until I contracted cancer, or married Sheila, never did I realise how much loved any person can feel. I would never have believed that so much love could be expressed towards one person by so many; most of whom I have never physically met. It would have been simply unthinkable of me to have died during 2017 and left this mountain of love behind.
The past five years since Sheila and I married have been the happiest years of my life, despite any illness I've incurred and we have had to deal with. I suppose the best way I can describe my own troubles and inconveniences against all the heartache and suffering many other people have to face and endure daily, without little prospect of ever changing for the better, is to say that, "I would rather die in my world than have to endure one day living in theirs." I will not pretend that I do not have pain as I have always had bodily pain since a bad accident at the age of twelve years. My pain consists mostly of painful hands and feet 24 hours daily, and when bad, can keep me awake most of the night. However, over the years I have learned to live with and adapt to any painful episodes in my daily life. My pain is 'tolerable'; probably because I have a high pain threshold and have practised Relaxation and other methods of meditation for sixty years, and taught them for fifty.
What is more important to this post, is that 'health-wise', the past six months have been the best six months I've experienced over the past five years. I am currently having a very settled spell with my condition. I have required no regular blood transfusions for over six months and have had no need to visit the doctor or have him visit me. In fact, my red blood cell count is currently near normal level and even my white blood cell count and platelet level have shown signs of improvement. I still have mo immune system working, but we can't ever have everything we want in life! In fact, were it not for this interminable pain in my hands and feet and avoiding crowds and children, nobody would ever guess that I was 'a dead man walking'.
I shall remember this year as having been a good year. I should have twice died and didn't, I discovered how many friends I had, I felt more loved than any man has a right to feel loved in any one lifetime and I planted some flowers and veg in our allotment for the seasons ahead. I even had a Facebook friend called, Chand Mahtani, specifically visit me from Singapore, just to meet me face-to-face and give me some flowers. Sheila and I had a nice holiday in Cornwall in August and I have spent many hours with Sheila at our allotment during the autumn months whenever the weather has permitted. We have also spent a shed load of money giving the allotment a face-lift. I could have got rid of my double chin with some costly cosmetic surgery, and had some very expensive dentistry work carried out for half the price! My son and his partner have visited me from Australia this October and my daughter will be spending Christmas with us, along with Sheila's brother. I have only written one novel this year that was recently published (making 67 published books since 1990), but have now re-established a regular writing routine. I am currently writing a 'crossover' book that is suitable for children, young persons and adults. The book will be published in March 2018 and will be dedicated to my new granddaughter, my third grandchild, to remind her of the purpose of life when I am no longer here to enjoy it with her. Oh, and by the way, my hair has regrown!
Anyone out there living with cancer should never forget that though you may eventually 'die of cancer', you do not have to 'die with cancer'. Whether or not your condition has been diagnosed 'curable' or 'terminal', the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to let them see you choosing to 'live with cancer' instead of 'dying with it! God bless you all for being you.'"William Forde: November 25th, 2017.