3 years ago I was totally unaware that a large tumor was growing inside my kidney. I’m reminded of this as I approach the ‘anniversary scans’ that check that no nasties have taken refuge in any of my other vital organs. Despite existing well on only one kidney I’m not yet ready to let go of anything else and so I await the appointment letter with more than a little trepidation. However, day to day I push thoughts of the C word as far as possible from my consciousness and prefer to focus on having a fit and healthy lifestyle. For this reason my daily life now compared to 3 years ago is quite different and this in turn has altered my mindset. I no longer drink – I’ve tried but I am officially a lightweight compared to back then. The lack of alcoholic courage has meant I don’t socialise in the same places (most require dutch courage before entering). My fiddle is hardly played as this pass time mainly took place in pubs and clubs and again, drink ‘enhanced’ my fiddling experience – as well as my irish dancing. I closed my former business when I was first diagnosed and although revisited it briefly afterwards, I was no longer excited by the fashion world and found it difficult even to like it anymore. My appearance also changed dramatically, gone are multicoloured dreadlocks and mohicans and my wardrobe is a lot less bizarre nowadays. Before my cancer diagnosis I was in a complete state of oblivion. Not only was I blissfully unaware of the sinister goings on in my kidney, I didn’t think that my lifestyle was all that bad. It’s taken 3 years for me to have a good hard look at my former self and realise I was maybe pushing a few too many boundaries health wise. I suppose I’ll never know whether I drank too much, my sugar intake was too high, added too much salt to meals etc. The point is that I don’t repeat the same mistakes, just in case. I’ve now returned to a largely vegetarian diet and limit sugar and dairy intake as well as avoiding salt where I can. I drink plenty of water and although I’ve raised a couple of glasses since, my alcohol intake is negligible. The reason I run also has a lot to do with my mindset post cancer. One of the fears I’ve had is of the scans picking up metastasis on my lungs, the sneaky f***ers seem to make a beeline there in many kidney cancer cases. If I can run then I feel I’d know if there were any issues in that department. The one thing I would love to be able to do is return to that oblivion, but I wouldn’t know then what I know now and some valuable lessons have been learned. So, as I approach that anniversary date I’m making a conscious effort to be aware of the lifestyle changes I can continue to make to lead a healthier life. Leaving nothing to chance.