February 14 1983-February 13 2013.
That's it today I have completed 30 years, 16 years with Kent Fire Brigade and 14 years with London Fire Brigade. My time in the Fire service has been, in roughly equal portions, challenging, hilariously funny and humbling. Along the way I have made some great friends who I will stay in touch with (not least because they owe me money!). I consider it to have been a privilege to been part of this organisation and to have served the community for so long.
My only regret is that I wished I looked cooler in uniform.
I have returned all the accoutrements that went with my rank, the only thing I have to do now is get the siren taken out of my car; much to the disappointment of the kids. This and the blue light may have proved handy in traffic in the future but the potential resulting penalty for being caught with it probably isn't worth the few extra minutes saved on any journey.
This entry will be my last as my sojourn through cancer treatment conveniently coincides with the end of my Fire service career, allowing me to wrap up both in one neat package. On the recovery front I continue to feel better, the scar where my stoma was has healed remarkably well, I've decided to tell people that this is where I was "nipped" by a shark whilst surfing. No one outside the family (and anybody who reads this blog) will know the truth. I still, occasionally, feel uncomfortable in my bowel but this is receding and seems to be worse if I push myself physically but I'm still only 3 weeks out of surgery so to grumble seems a little trite.
I feel I can tentatively say that I am out of the woods with regard to suffering with cancer and that the treatment has been successful. I hope, in some way, that this blog has been of interest/support/reassurance to anyone in a similar predicament to me, on that note I would direct said people to Cameron Von St. James' Face book page his wife, Heather, has overcome an even more fearful form of cancer and may prove inspirational to fellow cancer sufferers. I genuinely feel that there needs to be a more positive public approach to and awareness of cancer treatment, for many there is life after being diagnosed and treated. This may necessitate a paradigm shift but it doesn't mean the end of all things.
And so to thank yous; Primarily to Stella, when I faltered she has always been there to carry me, indeed, she is truly my 'rock' without her and the support of a loving family this episode would have been bleak in the extreme.
To: Mr. Charles Bailey, Consultant colorectal surgeon with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust.
Bronwyn Tetley & Frances Chalklin, colorectal nurses.
Maggs, Cathy, Kirsty & Judy, stoma nurses
Dr. Jeff Summers Consultant clinical oncologist Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust.
All the staff of LA5 and 6 radio therapy unit.
All the staff on Charles Dickens, Pye Oliver and Lord North wards at Maidstone hospital.
Mr. Mark Gudgeon, Consultant colorectal surgeon with Frimley Park hospital.
All the nursing staff at Frimley Park hospital.
Dr. Cathryn Lay, GP Amhurst medical practice.
Thanks to all these people Stella, the family at large and me are looking forward to a very much brighter future.
I am now about to enter a phase of follow up check ups which will continue for the next 5 years and then on until I'm 75, very reassuring. It probably goes without saying but I am definitely an advocate of the National Health Service.
Over and out.