Making Hay While The Sun Shines

July 21, 2017

Having a chemo holiday is much like a normal holiday – I get to relax, to regain a level of normality, and to not go into the office, or in this case, Mount Vernon Hospital. In fact not going into ‘the office’ every three weeks has made us much calmer than we have been for months. No matter how accustomed we are to the hospital routine of blood tests, scans, consultation and treatment, it is a worrying and wearying process. It’s good to have eight whole weeks of rest.

I ride my bike as much as I can, Manda and I have days out, walking and talking, seeing friends, matinee cinema screenings, the occasional lunch out – things we never did on week-days before. I’m eating as healthily as possible. I’ve invested in an industrial strength blender, a Vitamix, and I’m making smoothies every day, with all sorts of exotic ingredients like cacao, chia and spirulina. I’ve started reading recipe books by a woman who calls herself Deliciously Ella (for goodness’ sake) – I know, extreme stuff. I’m still off alcohol, cow’s dairy and sugar, but I allow myself the occasional caffeinated black coffee, as hot and strong as it comes.

These holiday weeks are not all lazing about. Maddy has moved out and into a house-share with mates in London and we are empty-nesters once again. She still runs 10ks and half-marathons like we walk in the park. Ellie graduated with her Masters degree, and after the ceremony in Bristol Cathedral, Alex got down on bended knee and proposed to her, in front of us all, on the green in the sunshine. Happy tears and hugs all round, followed later by an eye-wateringly expensive celebratory dinner for both families. Well, it’s not every day, is it, and it’s times like these that make everything we’re going through so worthwhile.

The chemo has left it’s mark, despite having worked it’s brutal magic so well. My fingertips are dry, far less sensitive and less grippy, I feel like I’m losing my own finger prints. I broke a glass when it just slipped out of my hand, and trying to pick up a plastic coated pill – well, I might as well be wearing a medieval knight’s armoured gauntlets. I use masses of moisturiser. My feet blister and bruise easily too. It’s all part of how chemo affects extremities. I’m not sure if it’s permanent.

My energy is back to my pre-aneamia levels of a couple of years ago, and I don’t need what was the non-negotiable sleep in the afternoons. Going out on the bike is a true escape. I can spend a couple of hours thinking about nothing much except moving forward and staying upright. I’m working towards cycling with some buddies whose Sunday morning runs are around 50 miles. At the moment I can comfortably do 30. Another month or so and I’ll be there. And I’ve joined Strava, a very trendy and highly amusing phone app for clocking cycling achievements, for better or for worse!

I know I’m very fortunate to be where I am at this moment, and making hay while the sun shines never had so much resonance. I have more treatment to come, and I’m optimistic for it’s effectiveness and for my own future. If this is living with cancer, then this is something I can do.





One of our day’s out was to the amazing Sky Garden down London way. At 155 metres high the Walkie Talkie building is dwarfed by The Shard’s 306 metres just across the river, nevertheless it is the most brilliant viewing platform in every direction across the city. Looking south, it is The Shard that gives it purpose, but looking in every other direction there are more famous landmarks than you can shake a stick at.

For you photo techies, these images are all taken with my trusty Fuji X100F, and many of them are either horizontal or vertical panoramas, with several separate images stitched together in Lightroom.

Giovanni Maggiora
07:19 July 27, 2017

Hi Steve, I chanced upon your work via the Kage Collective Fliboard. Your images are 100% inspiring and right down my personal alley. I'll spend time savoring your portfolios here, one by one. On a more personal note, if I may since I don't know you and you don't know me: You are facing a challenge that only you can know. My family has seen too many of them to count, so I can half understand. Keep going strong. You have your family and your image making to make sure you keep loving life for all that it gives us, even if we often forget to be mindful and thankful of it. Bless you, and keep shooting great stuff. Giovanni

18:07 July 23, 2017

WOW! again you take my breath away Mr S.....not only on a break, engagement times, out in the high altitudes of Londons towers but also you're on your bike! pedalling like no tomorrow and making the most of every moment! you continue to inspire and "how many miles??" many of us with bikes have an ability for 10 on a good day and here you are. My hat is raised to your continued well being and more. Love from me and Jenny x

Neale James
22:37 July 22, 2017

Stunning images as ever. But more to the point you are sounding on good form... and no, I'm told that extremities thing is not round for long. On the brighter side, you now have a proper excuse not to unload or indeed load the dishwasher!? x

13:25 July 22, 2017

Love the sky garden and your photos of it are incredible sure the sky garden would want them! Glad you are doing well cycling as you are you really are an inspiration

06:29 July 22, 2017

Wonderful as ever mr shipman

Martin Family
21:35 July 21, 2017

Enjoy your rest Steve. Keeping optimistic is key. When I had chemo back in 2008, I recall the routine you mention. Blood tests, treatment, consultation, repeat. I recall losing my taste buds and having far too much saliva too. But it's worth it in the end. Great photography as usual too by the way! Best wishes and just to say you are in my thoughts. Martin

Paul Alan Putnam
19:31 July 21, 2017

Hey, Steve, I just wanted to send you hugs and best regards from Spain. Stay strong. Best wishes. Paul

Nigel Eade
18:49 July 21, 2017

Keep in there Steve and enjoy the fight....

17:22 July 21, 2017

So great to know you have got your mojo back !


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