John Holt is my guest today. I have known him from my Authonomy days, and appreciated his support during the prolonged journey of BREATH OF AFRICA up their ladder to Gold Medal status. He is a prodigious writer – it’s almost as if there’s something driving him. And he spends considerable time trying to promote his books, yet he is always there to answer questions, offer useful advice, and lend support to fellow authors.
John is the first person to admit his books are in need of a good edit – yet his stories and plots keep you on the edge of your seat. Perhaps one day, you will attract a publisher, John. You certainly deserve it.
And now I understand what drives John … which makes me admire him the more.
Jane asked me if I would like to be a guest on her blog sometime. Thinking that as a guest I just needed to sit around, and look pretty, Jane would ask some simple questions, and I would just give some clever answers, and that would be that. Job done. So I agreed. I said that I would be delighted.
Then Jane dropped the bombshell – What about a piece on the challenges of your life? You could have knocked me down with a feather. Challenges of my life, who on earth would be interested? We all have our troubles don’t we? And there’s always someone worse off isn’t there? Whether it money worries, or the lack of it; personal problems at home; problems at work; disputes with your neighbour; or maybe problems with your health. We all have problems, and certainly to us they are most important, and affect us the most. We read about other people’s problems with mild interest, because it doesn’t affect us. Oh, occasionally some story or other may strike home, but those events are, generally, quite rare.
So I ask again, who would be interested in my challenges? Well I would for a start, but there you might have expected that. My friends? Yes hopefully they might have an interest, not that they could do anything to help. No, that’s not correct, they offer support, advice, or simply make an enquiry. “How are you?”, “Is there anything I can do?” That, at least, shows concern.
So now to me, my challenges. Well let me see. My health is my main problem I suppose. To be precise I have to go back approximately one year ago:
“You have a cancer,” a voice said. I wondered who was speaking, but more importantly who were they talking about. “I’m sorry but the blood test shows a fairly aggressive cancer,” the voice went on. “We will need to do a biopsy, but I think it will only confirm what I suspect.”
Who was this character who kept on and on, and who was he talking to? I looked around the consulting room. There were two people only, myself and my GP.
“So Mr Holt, I’ll arrange for you to see an oncologist as soon as possible.”
As Robert Niro famously said in one of his films, “You talkin’ to me?” Answer, yes he was talking to me.
“But I don’t have any of the symptoms,” I protested.
“Many don’t,” was the simple reply.
A short time later the biopsy did indeed confirm I had Prostate Cancer, with a Gleason value of 8 out of 10. (No that’s not a good score, that’s bad 10 is the highest). Next there came a Bone Scan to make sure that it hadn’t spread. It hadn’t. Then there was an MRI scan to show the position of the cancer precisely. That was alright, very noisy, but not a problem.
Next came the specialists. Firstly the Surgeon who recommended I had an operation. It would all be over in a short while, but it was quite involved.
“But I don’t have any of the symptoms,” I protested once again.
“Many don’t. Are you allergic to anything?”
“Pain and needles,” I replied.
On the face of it surgery did not appeal that much, and quite frankly I didn’t like the Surgeon. Next I saw the Oncologist. A seven and a half week course of radiotherapy was recommended, every week day for seven and a half weeks, a three minute dose of radiation. Oh and injections every twelve weeks for three years.
“But I don’t have any of the symptoms,” I protested.
In January I started the course and had my last session on 21 March. I recently had another blood test and it seems that the therapy has worked. The cancer is still there but greatly reduced. My sincere thanks to the Oncologist and every one at the clinic I attended. Cannot praise them too highly.
Then what happened about ten weeks ago? I injured my knee. Strapped up and on crutches for I don’t know how long. But that’s another story. Talking about stories you might care to take a look at my novels:
They are all available on amazon; “Epidemic” is also available on Nook and Kobo
John, I’m so pleased to read that the cancer has greatly reduced and thank you for sharing your story. I can see why you were surprised when Jane asked you to talk about the challenges you have recently faced, but I’m glad you did. You contribute so generously to the writing community and I wish you continued good health – and of course success with your books.
Thank you Maria – glad that you liked my little piece. You know you are never sure when it comes to this kind of thing. You wonder if people who you have never met are really going to be interested in your concerns. Should you be telling others of your personal affairs. Perhaps it helps others facing similar problems I don’t know. Anyway, thanks for your comments, and your good wishes.
Excellent piece, John. And, of course, I’m so glad that things are looking up.
Hi Tom – glad you liked it, and thanks for your good wishes
Maria and Tom said it all. John.
Hi Mark – hope you liked it – I may turn it into a novel. Tom Kendall called in to investigate a death by excessive radiation – what do you think
Love your humour, John!
Thank you Jane for featuring me on your blog, and I hope that you do well with the Guardian nomination – was it your publisher who put you forward.
Hope you’ve garnered a few sales from this, John.
My publisher said they didnt put me forward! Only the main publishers are allowed to dothat, apparently. So it must have been someone who read my book, and reviewed it for the 10th spot (for the smaller publishers). I think there’ll be very many books put forward, but it’s a great honour even being thought of. I dont really understand it all…
You will have to make sure Kendall doesn’t get sick then, with excessive radiation. But I am sure it has happened. I’m glad to hear things are looking up Jo0hn and keep writing the Kendall books. I can’t wait for the prequel when Kendall actually decides to leave the police to become a private detective.
Thanks Mel – glad you enjoyed it. Kendall will return but probably not until early 2014
So interesting to see where your life is now and how well you meet those challenges. Good luck with your books and I hope your sales soar. Kristin (former autho member)
Thank you Kristen. Glad you liked the article. And thank you for your good wishes
An excellent article, John, which illustrates your determination in the face of adversity and also gives us a glimpse of where Tom Kendall’s wry humour comes from. Wishing you well in all things.
Hi John, good piece, sharing now. Glad you are on the mend and keeping on top of your challenges!
Hi Babs – thanks for your common. It would not have been the same without you. You are a true and valued friend, and your good wishes mean a lot to me, and Kendall.
I actually cried. I still am typing this. Not huge great sobs, but gentle tears as I realise how pathetic a ‘friend’ I am. I have long admired and liked John and speak to him almost daily – yet I never knew. How could I not know? John, forgive me. There is nothing I can do anyway, as you know except for being there, praying and sending healing (my thing 🙂 )
Thank you for sharing such an immensely private and huge thing with us and all I can say is, thanks for that operation and those rays that have helped you so much. Long may that last.
On a lighter note, I believe those injections (I’ve had the same one, as they give it to women before a hysterectomy) give men hot flushes. Welcome to a woman’s world 🙂
Yes – John is inclined to keep himself to himself, and think of other people instead. I only got an inkling last March, when he couldnt “come” to my on-line launch party because he “had to go to the hospital.”
Lorrie – thanks for your comment. And it’s not a problem. You cannot be expected to know every single detail about every single person. I’m not absolutely sure that I should have said anything anyway. The thing is I do not, and have not, felt ill – a bit tired but nothing much – which made the whole “you have a cancer” thing even more unreal. You have to keep things in proportion, and keep positive, and whatever happens keep a sense of humour. On top of all that my wife, daughter and I believe in Jehovah, and his son Jesus. That gives us strength, and purpose. Oh, and yes the injections are the ones you mentioned. Still I only have to have them for three years, so it’s not all bad,
Thank you for sharing something so personal, John. It was well-written and touching. I’m glad to hear that the cancer hadn’t spread and that the tumor is greatly reduced. Bless you.