An email to a friend


My apologies for yesterday. My luck that I had a doctors appointment on the day of the Forum! I was also hoping to have been at the brave meeting afterwards and stayed on for the curry. I also wanted to give you abraço and wish you safe travels on this amazing and epic trip you going on!

But yesterday it was a really important appointment. It was the culmination of a battery of exams to confirm if the tumour had spread or of it was contained.

It’s difficult to express in a message what is going through your mind on a day like this. I guess you hope for the best but unconsciously prepare for the worst. I’ve had some strange pains in my leg, it doesn’t feel like it’s a muscle or a tendon but feels like it’s coming from inside the leg. You start thinking…what if only a few cells slipped by, could this be those few metastasising in the bones? Has the cancer spread? If it has, will the treatment resolve it?

Then you remind yourself that this is an aggressive cancer that resists treatment and has a bleak outcome in the case if it has spread, so if it has, how long will I have to live? A few years? How old will my son be when I am dead? Starting primary school if I am lucky? You remind yourself that he still needs you and you can’t bear to imagine what his life would be like in your absence.

So you go into this appointment with all these thoughts at the back of your mind. When the doctor takes a little longer, or looks at you, you immediately start thinking it’s not a good sign.

I have seen in films the doctors telling patients that they have a few months to live, but I have never given much thought to when they tell you that you are going to live? In my case, she looked at a series of papers and reports and says “for now, it looks like you are ok”….just like that. In the silence that follows while she is punching away on the computer probably writing another report, you think to yourself….I passed! I am going to live! It reminded me of the feeling when you found out you passed a school exam that you were worried you were going to fail, just with the difference in the case is that the result means you will continue to live!

I have never pictured myself in a situation where someone would tell me “you going to live” and understand just how powerful those words could be. It’s only when something we take for granted is taken away from us, or potentially taken away that we appreciate how much of a big deal it is.

So the good news was a massive relief to know I can still continue being a father to my son and a husband to my wife. In fact the news was overwhelming and even though I had commitments as a chamber board member, I thought there is a lot of life still ahead for networking. Today I just needed to hug my son. It was an incredibly powerful and humbling hug…a hug that reminds you of the significance of life, that its not what you have, but who you love! Its people and memories and being in the moment and living each minute and being so bloody greatful for everything you have. It was good to know that it is likely that I will still be around to see him grow up and will be there to listen to him when he needs someone to talk to.

So my apologies for missing all my commitments yesterday, I am sure everyone managed without me and in a few years I probably would not remember that afternoon, but I will never forget the hug I gave my son, the moments we sat next to the river and saw the waves lap the shore and the wonderful walk we had in the park picking up leaves and sticks.

Yesterday I got a ticket to live. Words just can’t explain.

Keep well buddy!

Um abraço.

Useful information on hallux amputation

I have hunted the internet looking for information about the consequences of losing the big toe, but I have yet to find anything useful. The surgeon at the time told me that it would have minimal impact and would not affect neither my walk or balance.

That is not exactly true. A few months after surgery, I had such severe cramps in my foot that I could hardly walk. It took almost 5 months of physiotherapy for the pain to subside. I had no idea what caused it. This article explains that and other things.

It seems like the pain in my foot was caused by a phenomenon called “clawing” and is the effect of the other toes that “claw” into de ground due to the absence of another toe. That causes the feet muscles and tendons to be arched and not relaxed and that explains the pain I had in my foot.

Right now I have pain on the inside of my upper leg and inside my knees. This seems to be caused also by the loss of the big toe. The article explains that foot loses a tripod balance where previously this tripod would be toe, heel and outer side of the foot. With the loss of the toe, the foot tends to curve upwards as to pronate more, increasing the inner arch an causing torsion of the leg and hip which explains the constant pain in that region.

I am posting this in June and I have felt this pain since October last year. At times it is unbearable, making it almost impossible to walk up a hill, while other days it subsides and you forget it’s there until it comes back like an annoying itch. Yesterday I was in a a dentists chair for a couple of hours and the pain in my leg could be felt and was very uncomfortable. It also inhibits me from doing a lot of mundane things, but also makes it difficult to carry my little toddler.

I found this article by the “Gait Guys” and they seem to know their stuff.

Here is a link to one of 2 articles they wrote about this subject. A true gem since I have not found anything as valuable as this in the year and a half I have been browsing.

Consequences of losing the big toe (hallux) to amputation

Hopefully one day o will also meet someone in a similar situation and share these experiences with them.