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Epic Training: Week Three

Oscar Foulkes September 25, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
This week’s programme kicked off on Tuesday with an easy hour on the mountain. After two solid rides over the weekend, followed by dead lifts and more during Monday’s gym session, it was a relief to have a recovery ride.

Instead of the ride scheduled for Wednesday, I joined the Road2Vasco gang (see pic attached) for a Blockhouse Dash. It’s on Strava as The King’s Blockhouse IPA TT if you want to try it for yourself. The start point is the end of Pinoak Road in Vredehoek, and you climb at an average of 8% for 3.6km. The first part is above 16%, which will come back to bite you if you go out too quickly (as I did).

By the time I reached the Blockhouse my throat was on fire. My throat has given me all kinds of pain experiences, but this was a new one. I clearly shouldn’t be riding in the red zone for 23 minutes at a stretch!

Saturday’s ride was three hours on the mountain, with high cadence, and staying below zone four. The mountain routes around the City Bowl are fine for an hour to perhaps two hours – if you can put up with some steep sections that can easily push heart rate into zone four.

With the Table Mountain National Park in the middle of it, Cape Town makes for unique urban mountain biking. I love the way that people have found ways to link off-road sections, especially since parts of the Constantia green belt may now legally be ridden. So, for my three-hour ride on Saturday, I was able to get from Deer Park to Constantia without riding for more than a few kilometres on tar. There are also some enterprising single-track sections alongside Rhodes Drive.

Soon after setting off on Saturday, my phone rang. As I wasn’t (yet) out of breath I decided to answer, which I could do without stopping, because of the microphone on the Apple earphones.

At the end of the phone call, I expected the music I’d been listening to start playing again. Instead there was an unfamiliar rhythmical sound that I assumed was the intro to old-school Hip-Hop that my son loaded onto my phone. When the ‘intro’ didn’t morph into an actual piece of music I began to think of alternatives. Technically, I don’t know if this is possible, but the only explanation I could come up with is that somehow, via my Fitbit, which is connected to phone via Bluetooth, I was listening to the sound of my own pulse.

Just as I’d reached this deduction I caught up to the rider ahead of me, who asked me if I have asthma. It’s not the first time my laboured breathing has alarmed fellow riders, and it doesn’t get better when I try to explain to them that my lungs are just fine, because I generally produce an unintelligible croak while cycling.

It’s one thing to have my own pulse as soundtrack – it’s another thing altogether for other cyclists to be subjected to the apparent sounds of someone gasping for breath. Don’t worry, I’m fine, and thank you for caring.

Today’s ride should have been a relatively straightforward high cadence spin on the road, but having attended a 21st last night, my body was not entirely shipshape. ‘Nough said. At my age, training requires nocturnal moderation.

On a positive note, Strava tells me that yesterday’s ride was an improvement on the previous week’s ride along a similar route. While I’m a long way off where I was last year, I seem to be getting stronger. Perhaps I should start a new Strava account, so that I’m not tempted to make comparisons with 2015 and earlier!

The Road2Vasco gang at the Blockhouse

The Road2Vasco gang at the Blockhouse

Open Letter to Vee Moodley

Oscar Foulkes September 25, 2016 Uncategorized No comments
Vee Moodley
Betting Executive
Phumelela

Dear Vee

I don’t officially have a surname, so I hope you don’t mind me using your first name. Yes, in my version of my name there are two parts – Grape Vine – but I’m not a Mr Vine kind of guy (and just imagine answering to the first name, Grape!).

I’m in bit of a situation. Well, if I’m not already in a situation I will be at some point, and I may need your help.

First, a little background. I started my career in Cape Town, where I will admit to being somewhat directionless. However, it all got a lot better when I moved to Port Elizabeth. I won’t say that I found religion, but something certainly shifted.

First time out in PE I ran a close fourth, and it didn’t take long for me to win two on the trot (if you’ll excuse the expression). In total, my PE career has comprised 14 starts. Other than the two wins, I also had five places, and four fourths. There have also been two fifths, which means that only in one start did I not earn money (the less said about the way my jockey rode me that day, the better).

On six occasions I’ve been beaten a length or less.

What I’m getting at, is that this record makes a true servant of the Tote*. I’m sure that your databases could tell you a lot about the role I’ve played as punters’ choice in exotic bets. Consistent chaps like myself, I’m sure, are good for your business. More about that later.

On a scale of unplaced maiden, to Frankel, I am extremely average. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur. However, I would say that my model of consistency makes me anything but average. If you totted up my earnings in PE you’d see that I’ve more-or-less paid my way. In all my averageness I’m a rare racehorse.

The handicapper must look at my PE form and feel rather pleased with himself. My suggestion to the handicapper is to not get too smug. I make him look good, with my always-trying attitude. In return for my honesty I’m stuck with a merit rating* that all but ensures I’ll never win again. What do they say about no good deed going unpunished?

Anyway, my pain is your gain. I’m good for your business.

Yesterday, once again, I ran my heart out from a bad draw (what is it about me and wide draws). The best I could do was fifth. The worst is that it was a dead heat for fifth. Apparently there were some ripe comments from one of my owners about sharing a measly R1500 in prize money. Even though my form yesterday was worse than previous form against Naval Intelligence, I can’t see my merit rating getting cut. That’s just not how the handicappers roll.

Vee, something has to give. I get the feeling my owners are getting frustrated by this thing of seeing the handicapper stand between me and the winner’s box.

It’s time for me to get to the point. Considering what I do for your business, in the event that their frustration gets a bit too much, would you consider a contribution to my training fees?

Kind regards
Grape Vine

*Tote: The principle of Tote betting is that all bets are pooled. After the government taxes and operator’s share have been deducted, the nett pool is shared amongst the winning tickets. The tote is a more effective funder of the sport than bets struck with bookmakers.
*Merit ratings: Most races run in South Africa are handicaps, which aim to equalise horses’ chances of winning. Better horses carry more weight. Merit ratings are the method for assigning weights to horses. Higher merit ratings indicate better horses. At the basis of handicapping is the measurable drag effect of weight (over 1600m, one length of a horse equates to 2 lbs in weight carried).

Grape Vine winning in Cape Town

Grape Vine winning in Cape Town

Epic Training: Week 2

Oscar Foulkes September 20, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
There is a simple pattern to my training programme – roughly one-hour rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with three-hour-plus rides on Saturdays and Sundays (all rides will increase in length, I’m sure). Mondays and Wednesdays are for gym.

Gym is a private session involving exercises that improve mobility in my hips, as well as a variety of leg-related exercises, such as lunges, squats and dead lifts. Upper body, in the form of push ups (with rotation) and rows, also gets attention. There are two other mountain bikers (both with Epic experience) who train at the same time, so the sessions can involve plenty of banter, which helps to keep the training programme a relatively fun space.

The second week’s midweek sessions were not overly taxing, and the weekend’s two three-hour rides were straightforward. I rode the second one with Piet, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on various Epic-related matters.

Discussion turned to my average speeds on training rides, as recorded on Strava (remember, “if it’s not on Strava, it never happened”). Until Piet brought it up on Sunday, I hadn’t given much thought about that important, single number. My attention has mainly been focused on following Lezandré’s programme. The point of training, of course, is to be able to ride at a faster average speed. On Epic, anything below 15km/h just doesn’t leave enough time for recovery. Ideally, one would ride faster than that; the more time spent chilling after a day’s riding, the better.

I’m currently riding about 30% faster than three months ago, but even at this level, I’m 20% below where I was a year ago. It’s a stark reminder of the side effects of radiotherapy.

I don’t know anything about the generally toxic effects of radiotherapy, but the physical ones are easy to list. I’ve picked up most of the weight lost (mainly as a result of pain-induced change to diet). My throat remains inflamed, which restricts my intake of air as my heart rate goes up.

Swallowing food can be tricky, and this brings me to nutrition, especially while riding. I’m not a big fan of processed foods, which means that I view ‘sport bars’ with circumspection. Plus, their cost does nothing to delight my frugal nature. By comparison, droëwors appears to be much better value. However, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to eat while gasping for breath. In my case, there’s the added complication of ‘bits’ that can get lodged in my larynx, resulting in much coughing.

On a recent ride, a speck of something went the wrong way, which caused me to cough at an inopportune moment, propelling a piece of droëwors into my respiratory tract. I could vaguely feel its presence, which is where is stayed until I blew my nose in the shower.

My cousin suggested coconut oil as nutrition while riding. It may tick a number of boxes, with ease of swallowing clearly being an important consideration. In an emergency I could also use it as chain lube, which may explain why I have no interest in even trying it. There’s just too much fear factor involved.

On the other hand, I’ll shortly be addressing my fear factor relating to the speed at which I descend. I’m not the slowest, but certain technical downhills sometimes get me off my bike (occasionally involuntarily). The attraction of getting this right is that it will make me faster, without me having to expend any additional effort.

Fortunately, I have just the person to help me with that (expect a call, Daniel Dobinson). Piet and I will be the ones on bicycles, but without our respective support teams, Cape Epic would be a lot harder, not to mention slower.

How NOT to ride a switchback, but what a recovery! Me on Wines2Whales in 2011.

Epic Training: Week 1

Oscar Foulkes September 15, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
The first official week of Cape Epic training was uneventful. None of the four days was particularly taxing; whether it’s because that was Lezandré’s plan, or whether I’m a little fitter than she expected, I don’t know. However, this could well turn out to be a similar experience to first year Maths at UCT. I started all cock-a-hoop, having nailed Calculus in my Matric exams. I treated the lectures as optional, but within weeks it all got serious, and I never managed to catch up.

Whatever Lezandré has allocated for the day, I do. The one element I struggle with, though, is when I have to keep my heart rate below an indicated level. Anything below zone 4 feels as if I’m not doing anything.

In other news, The Partner outed himself on Twitter, so I can henceforth refer to him as Piet (Viljoen). When we had our first meeting over coffee in February, he told me that he likes to do one thing a year that scares him. You may think that he meant something along the lines of ‘challenge’, but you’d be wrong. Piet is on another level when it comes to what he takes on. This man is a machine.

Allow me to illustrate. For any person who is into endurance sports, Cape Epic and Comrades Marathon are bucket list events. Doing just one of them, once in a lifetime, will satisfy most people. In 2017, Piet is doing both Cape Epic and Comrades Marathon. We’re talking about a gap of two months between the two events, a big chunk of which will be taken up by recovery from Epic.

But wait, there’s more, Piet is doing Comrades as part of Unogwaja, which means that he is cycling from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg (1660km), and then running a very tough 89km. A runner may get some benefit from cycling (and vice versa), but Piet will need to be training for Comrades while simultaneously training for Epic.

I’m in awe of what he’s taken on, and also thankful. You see, by setting a peak even higher than Cape Epic, he’s foreshortened the perspective. In an odd way, he’s made Epic seem less of a stretch.

There will be many hours of pain along the way – and Piet is the one undertaking the main challenge – but I feel fortunate to be sharing part of the 2017 journey with him.

Until then, I have six more months of following instructions from Lezandré.

Lezandré Wolmarans Qualified Biokineticist, BSpSc Hons (US), BA Sport Health & Leisure Sc (NWU) ... and highly accomplished athlete

Lezandré Wolmarans
Qualified Biokineticist, BSpSc Hons (US), BA Sport Health & Leisure Sc (NWU) … and highly accomplished athlete

Epic Training

Oscar Foulkes September 6, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
My Be My Epic Valentine post drew some amused comment, but just one serious interest. The Partner (I’ll call him that until he’s okay with being ‘outed’) more-or-less committed immediately, despite the fact that I could barely whisper, and was on the way to losing nearly 10kg during radiotherapy.

He, on the other hand, was already in training for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. This would be followed a few months later by a full Ironman, and for good measure, the Trans-Baviaans MTB. Even if I were at peak fitness, I’d struggle to remain within sight of him.

Thanks to a 13-week training programme from Lezandre at the Sports Science Institute, I was able to get strong and fit enough to complete the Imana Wild Ride. But three- or four-day stage races are known territory for me. The Cape Epic is ‘eight days of courage’.

Having completed Lezandre’s first 13 week programme, this week I started the Epic programme (see alongside). Shit just got real.

I had planned to ride with The Partner on Saturday. I woke up early, to a south-easter that was just about gale force, and a message from The Partner, suggesting that riding in the wind was not an option. Inside, I was cheering. I have been known to ride in winds as strong as this, but I didn’t want to be the one calling off the ride. The plan was adjusted to ride on the road the following day.

There is a little backstory to the road ride, because The Partner wanted to ride his new road bike. I should add that he doesn’t own just one or two bikes. In fact, the number goes beyond several. As he puts it, there is a precise mathematical formula for calculating the number of bikes he owns: S – 1, where S stands for the number of bikes that would cause him to be single. Fortunately, for him, S is a big number.

On Sunday, I needed to meet him at the Camps Bay police station at 7.00am. From my house this is a +-25 minute ride. I was delayed leaving, and despite riding in the red zone all the way, I arrived at 7.04 (or maybe 7.05). The Partner rightly waited a few minutes and then carried on. Next time I’ll be more punctual (let’s just say that if I ever decide to join the Swiss Cycling Club I’ll be well prepared).

Yesterday, before I’d even expended one minute in formal Epic training, I received an email from The Partner suggesting that I should ride the Attekwas with him on 21 January. This race is 120km, with 2900m of climbing, from Oudtshoorn to Groot Brak. It’s fantastic preparation for Epic. The only problem is that I need to be in Cape Town that evening. I’ve calculated that if I ride fast, and have someone drive me, I can get just about get back to Cape Town in time.

Over the course of the next six-and-a-half months there will be many other times when I’ll have to juggle commitments to fit Epic training into my schedule. For the vast majority of riders in the Cape Epic – in other words, for everyone other than the pro riders, for whom training is their job – just getting to the start line of the Epic is a major achievement.

However, like the Epic’s ‘eight days of courage’ that are experienced one turn of the crank at a time, my training programe involves one day of Lezandre’s instructions at a time. From my experience of doing the first 13 weeks, it’s amazing how this daily commitment makes training a manageable process.

Throughout all of it there’s a riding partner to keep one motivated (and punctual).

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Nie op sy bek geval nie

Oscar Foulkes June 21, 2016 Horse Racing No comments
Speaking additional languages isn’t just about making oneself understood. One also needs to be aware of the polite word for things – and I don’t mean words that are impolitely used to refer to faecal matter. Take the Afrikaans word bek, for instance, as used in the expression “hou jou bek”, which translates as “hold your mouth”. It’s the “shut your trap” equivalent of “hold your tongue”, because the polite word for mouth is mond.

Admittedly, I never thought about it with any great latitude, but I couldn’t understand how bek could be mond, until I was on a trip to Montreal and saw the French word bec, indicating the spout of a milk carton. Bec, of course, is also the word for beak, so now it all makes sense.

When Afrikaners say, “Hy is nie op sy bek geval nie”, which is directly translated as “he hasn’t fallen on his mouth”, they are referring to someone who isn’t slow to open his mouth to say something. In a dry and slightly obtuse way, it’s more likely to refer to someone who is witty, sharp, opinionated or arrogant than a run-of-the-mill chatterbox.

I’ll get back to bek in a minute.

There is a perennial shortage of commentators in horse racing. These are the guys (yes, because women hardly ever volunteer) who ‘call’ the races. In the days before video coverage, their job was even more important, but it remains necessary for someone to tell fans where each horse is in the race. Good commentators will flesh it out with horses that are squandering their chances by running wide on the bend. Great ones will spot the supposed no-hoper at the back of the field, with tons in reserve, about to mow down the leaders.

In the late 80s, Sandy Bickett had long since retired as Cape Town commentator. So desperate was the need for commentators that they kept him on even though he regularly made mistakes. Current head commentator Jehan Malherbe started under Bickett. He’s had a succession of understudies, and has been trying to switch off his mic for decades, but management won’t let him leave. It’s for good reason, I should add, because Jehan is a great commentator, in the sense of truly being able to ‘read’ a race. That is a skill that comes from watching tens of thousands of races.

The point of this story is that Racing. It’s a Rush is busy with a drive to recruit aspirant commentators. For someone with the ‘gift of the gab’ – partially similar to nie op sy bek geval nie – an employment opportunity awaits. This may be the only lifetime employment currently being offered anywhere, although I’m sure Jehan wishes it wasn’t.

Given my laryngeal issues, these days I tend to speak only when I have something important to say, and even then – especially in noisy surroundings – I’ll often hold back. However, when my youth was at its brashest, my bek was in full swing. There were many times my future self should have put a hand on my shoulder and told me to shut the fuck up. At the time, I was doing some television presenting for horse racing. I was always keen for some extra money, so I thought I’d give it a go.

There is no school or handbook for learning to be a commentator. You may sit in your bedroom with a tape recorder and call a fictitious race. That’s relatively easy. Harder is to sit in the stands mouthing a commentary on a real race.

Nothing beats the chill that engulfs your entire body when you’re sitting in front of a live mic, looking through binoculars, and realising that there are jockey silks that you can’t match to a horse. Or vice versa, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The plan was that I would make general racecourse announcements and call horses to post for a few weeks. When I did my first actual call, Jehan would be standing by my side, ready to prompt me if I stumbled over the horses. The problem was that I got impatient. Instead, when I did my first call, Jehan was standing next to a crackly speaker on Greyville racecourse wanting to listen to the Cape commentary. When he heard my voice, I suspect he felt the same kind of chill I described above. Or perhaps it was just anger. Had there been cell phones he could have taken immediate action, but there weren’t.

It all started fine, but somewhere along the line a horse’s name escaped me, or maybe a few. The speaker at Greyville – and thousands in off-course Totes and bookmakers’ rooms around the country, went silent. The crackle was no indication of technical problems. This was commentator malfunction, or put it another way, this was crackle without the cackle.

Soon after the horses turned for home I was able to pick it up again, and managed to finish the race. There must have been a stand-in commentator, although I can’t recall whether it was Neill Duffy, Mike Wanklin or Shaheen Shaw. It could even have been James Bester, so long was the list of Jehan’s successive understudies, until Rouvaan Smit came along.

This was not my finest moment, to put it politely. I knew that I’d screwed up big time, I felt terrible about it, and I was determined to fix it next time. Things weren’t improved by the article that Annabel Andrews wrote for the Cape Times in the week thereafter, with a headline that clearly didn’t tax the sub-editor: “No Oscar for this commentator”, or something to that effect.

The following race meeting, with Jehan back in Cape Town, we did it the way it was supposed to happen first time around. As I was calling the horses into the stalls, the phone rang. It was Mike Louw, the course manager (although I can’t be sure that I’ve recalled his job title correctly): “Get Oscar out of the commentary box!”

“I can’t”, said Jehan, “I haven’t learnt the colours.” And then he took the phone off the hook.

The call wouldn’t have won any prizes, but it was fine. I got through it. That should – or could – have been the first step to redemption, but racecourse management had other ideas. The following week I received a letter from Mike Louw banning me from the commentary box for life.

Of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, this was possibly the one with the greatest cringe factor, demonstrated by the fact that it’s taken me nearly 30 years to tell the story. Until a clean-out six months ago, I had both the newspaper clipping and Mike Louw’s letter in a dusty file. Instead of keeping glowing school reports, I kept a vicious newspaper article and a letter of rejection. I couldn’t tell you why I kept them, but now that I’m finally telling the story, I’m sorry I threw them out. It would have been fun to post them here.

Partly because of what’s happened to my voice, I listen with pleasure and admiration to people who employ their voices by singing or speaking in public. Beautiful voices are like birdsong. Perhaps the reference to beak is a good one, after all.

If you think you have what it takes to be a commentator, send a commentary sample to pressp@phumelela.com

Here are some fun commentaries:


Wax On, Wax Off

Oscar Foulkes May 24, 2016 Uncategorized No comments
Karate Kid was one of the great movie successes of the 80s. Its dose of feel-good was so strong that when I think of the movie today I still have the feeling, more than 30 years later. For me, it’s impossible to think of the movie without remembering Mr Miyagi’s “Wax on, wax off.”

His teenaged student, Daniel, didn’t understand how the cleaning of a car could have anything to do with the learning of a martial art, but in time it all fell into place.

My own ‘wax on, wax off’ experience started in 1982 (two years before the release of Karate Kid) when my parents took me, aged 15, to the offices of Form Organisation, with the request that Charles Faull and his team teach me something about horse racing and breeding. It was an escape from boarding school that I dove straight into, using all kinds of excuses to leave the school grounds for a few hours. These ranged from runs around Rondebosch Common to shopping trips for essential items.

One of the main pieces of work I did was to transcribe onto special stationery (from the Stud Book) the names of all foals by a stallion, separated into colts and fillies. Then, using the Racing Calendar, I had to look up the racing performances of these horses, recording number of races won, as well as their top performances.

I learnt a huge amount from a time consuming and apparently tedious exercise. Apart from exposure to the performances of great horses and their sires, the most valuable learning may have been seeing the rarity of top racehorses. Rarer still, are stallions that sire a high percentage of top horses.

The breeding and racing of horses are pursuits that involve a low level of predictability, if not a huge amount of chance, but there is room for knowledge to be used to improve the probabilities.

Bayes’ theorem improves our understanding of probability, because it incorporates the concept of base rate. Through all those hours that I sat doing this research I was brought face-to-face with base rate, which in the case of top-class racehorses is alarmingly low.

An important race, awaited with great anticipation, is a focal high point, releasing a rush of excitement. Underlying it all is an endlessly fascinating intellectual pursuit of trying to beat the odds. If you’re a breeder you are matching stallions and mares in the hope that the resulting DNA will produce an athlete. Owners (and their advisers) scour auction sales looking for the unraced youngster that will grow up to be an athlete. Punters study form with the hope of gleaning an insight that will give them an edge at the betting windows.

From start to finish, it’s a great intellectual pursuit.

The focus of all this attention is the Thoroughbred, an athlete so magnificent that we are eventually forced to put aside all intellectualising, and just feel.

I would have loved it anyway, but the ‘wax on, wax off’ has added valuable dimensions to the experience.

Epic Shit #4: Burn that shit

Oscar Foulkes May 9, 2016 Uncategorized No comments
Here’s an insight that came to me during AfrikaBurn, which I attended for the third time this year. Apart from the visual spectacle, and otherworld experience, I find it to be a deeply emotional space. Each year is different.

This time, because of lingering pain, as well as generally depleted energy levels, I took it easy, not venturing out to the burns until the last night. I have written before about the apparent lunacy of spending weeks building magnificent, artistic structures. And then burning them.

Those nighttime burns, especially the silent ones, are an awe-inspiring spectacle. It’s easy to enter a contemplative as you stand around a massive burn with thousands of other people.

My contemplation during the last night’s silent burn is that we carry a lot of shit around with us. Experiences become memories, which have emotions attached to them. Some of these are happy ones, but we are often just as likely to carry around feelings that either taint our relationships, or limit what we achieve.

There no value in hoarding shit. It’s bad for us.

Fire can be an important part of renewal; take all those limiting attitudes/beliefs/emotions and burn that shit.

epic_shitI was given this notebook by a friend, at the conclusion of a six-week course of radiotherapy to my throat. Radiotherapy is targeted at specific areas, so it’s theoretically an easier experience than chemotherapy. However, my throat became extremely painful, which affected eating and drinking, speech and more. I’m a better ‘writer’ on keyboard than with pen in hand, so here goes with a selection of things I would have written in the notebook if I could.

Epic Shit #3: Shit is easier to manage if it is expected

Oscar Foulkes March 30, 2016 Uncategorized 2 comments
I was comprehensively briefed in advance of the start of my course of radiotherapy. I knew what to expect, especially when side effects kicked in. There was a structure to the treatment, with a designated number of weekday visits to the hospital, weekly consultations with a doctor, and a clear sense of a beginning and an end. I had various medications for pain, spearheaded by morphine.

The side effects were horrible, but after each treatment I crossed off another day on my chart. I also had control over my pain medication.

It is now a little over three weeks since the end of my treatment. I can unequivocally say that the last two months represent probably the physically roughest period of my life, and in a way, the post-treatment period has been the worst. Yes, pain has abated to the point where I no longer need the morphine, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not experiencing a range of unpleasant side effects.

It’s one thing to sit out a process when you have the timeline in advance. The problem with post-treatment is that there is no schedule, no daily structure. No end date, nothing to cross off a list. I know I must be getting better, but oddly, it seems harder to manage than when I was getting worse.

epic_shitI was given this notebook by a friend, at the conclusion of a six-week course of radiotherapy to my throat. Radiotherapy is targeted at specific areas, so it’s theoretically an easier experience than chemotherapy. However, my throat became extremely painful, which affected eating and drinking, speech and more. I’m a better ‘writer’ on keyboard than with pen in hand, so here goes with a selection of things I would have written in the notebook if I could.

Epic Shit #2: There is worse shit

Oscar Foulkes March 22, 2016 Uncategorized No comments
It was relatively easy for me to be gung ho in the early stages of treatment. This type of cancer has a tiny probability of killing me, and to start with I wasn’t feeling any side effects.

After five weeks of daily radiation I was feeling much less chipper.

I got chatting to someone who is in a work-related WhatsApp group with me. As a result of cancer treatments, he was fed by nose tube for nine months. Two years later, all his nutrition is sipped through a straw. His permanent discomfort is considerable.

The insight is that shit can be worse. If we’re able to shift our perspective to see that, then we can find things for which we can be grateful.

Gratitude is an excellent antidote to suffering.

epic_shitI was given this notebook by a friend, at the conclusion of a six-week course of radiotherapy to my throat. Radiotherapy is targeted at specific areas, so it’s theoretically an easier experience than chemotherapy. However, my throat became extremely painful, which affected eating and drinking, speech and more. I’m a better ‘writer’ on keyboard than with pen in hand, so here goes with a selection of things I would have written in the notebook if I could.