Every day is a good day, some are just better than others. That’s the title of Don Morris’ personal account of his cancer experience.
We first met Don in 2017. After being told his cancer was untreatable, he and his wife moved to Tauranga to be closer to family.
That move proved a life-saving decision after his new oncologist recommended further treatment. Against all odds, he recovered.
Don has since written about his experience coping with cancer. It’s an honest account: the barrage of tests and scans; juggling the pressures of work and life with cancer; coping with feelings of depression and uncertainty.
The process of writing it down has helped him process the experience, says Don.
“I just thought I needed to. It’s a release really. To help get through what you’ve been through.”
But for Don, it’s also about being able to share his story so people who might be facing a similar journey feel less alone.
“Men don’t talk about what they’re going through, but they definitely need to.
“It helps for people to know ‘it’s not just me’. Our journey can be physically different, but mentally it’s quite similar, no matter who you are.”
Diagnosis, an extract from Don's story
There was a grey looking mass with just a small gap that the camera wouldn’t go through. Don’t ask me why, but I said: “Mission control, I think we have a problem here. Is that cancer?”
They were as shocked as much as I was. He said that was the last thing they expected to see as I looked so healthy and fit and hadn’t lost weight.
They cleaned me up and wheeled me back out to recovery where Shirley was. I think we were both just totally NUMB. The doctor came out and spoke to us and said he would get the ball rolling.
So, I went into a holding pattern, waiting for a blood test, CT scan and surgery at some stage - I hoped! Back at home I phoned my three boys and like us, they were shocked.
Before I knew it, six months were up and it was time for the next CT scan.
A week later we went to see the oncologist at 2.30pm. I don’t care what anyone says, it is a damn long day of waiting! I went for a run, bashed the drums, then met Shirley at the hospital.
We walked in and sat down.
All we got was: “I am so sorry. It is in both lungs and the spots have grown. We can’t do anything for you.”
And he just stood up, shook our hands and walked out, leaving the door wide open for us to leave. We were both gob smacked. We didn’t know what to do.
After all that, we decided that we needed time away to sort out what would be the best thing we could do as a couple. Whatever happened was going to affect both of us in different ways. I may not be around much longer. Then Shirley would be left with everything to do. I felt that was so unfair.
So we headed to Wellington for the weekend. It was so good to be in neutral ground. We had a nice meal there and came to the conclusion that the best thing we could do was put the house on the market and move closer to family. That way Shirley would have all the support she would need.
Don spoke with the Bay of Plenty Times about his journey ahead of Daffodil Day 2020.