Press Release - Black belt in karate is kicking cancer with over 100 doses of chemo
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
2M ago
A press release about my journey with cancer has recently been published by the South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust. You can read it here. I'd like to use this opportunity again to thank all the doctors and nurses who have been looking after me ..read more
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Trouble and strife with the strawberry tart
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
3M ago
In my adolescent years, I had a mate of mine called Eamonn Martin. One of the things that we used to do was make up our own version of cockney rhyming slang. Many might be familiar with the old classics; for example, Trouble and Strife = Wife, Richard the Third = Turd, etc. So what on earth has that got to do with anything related to this blog? Well, my dear chums, not only do I enjoy the rich delights of being a cancer patient, along with the many splendid challenges that come with it, but now I also find that I have not one, but two somewhat serious heart conditions (Heart/Strawberry Tart, a ..read more
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Head, Heart Beat, Knees, and Toes
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
4M ago
I was talking to a friend of mine today, and he asked me how I was. I had not seen him since before Christmas, so when he asked me, I thought to myself, do I just do the classic English thing and just say, "Oh yes, I am fine, thank you very much for asking." Or do I say, "Well, let me think, where do I start?" Okay, let us start with my being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, which is a condition where the top two chambers of the heart beat irregularly, often increasing the beats per minute from between 70 to 90, which is the normal average number of beats for the majority of people who do n ..read more
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Treatment Number 100 Of Chemotherapy
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
6M ago
The Bard himself famously said that life is but a stage, and we are all but players on the stage. Well, the older that I get, the more that I realize what a genius Shakespeare truly was, because actually, I have begun to realize that he was right. It is richly ironic that I will be receiving my 100th dose of chemotherapy in Stratford Cancer Hospital. How strangely appropriate to be in his birthplace; he defines Stratford Upon Avon as much as Stratford Upon Avon defines him. As the millions of visitors who stream to Stratford testify, I just wonder how one man born of humble stock rose to becom ..read more
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Bag for Life This Year So Far
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
6M ago
Well, as I meander closer to my 99th dose of chemo the week after next and then the big one on December 20th, where I hit the big milestone of 100 doses of chemotherapy, I thought that it might be timely to reflect on my journey with cancer in 2023. It is funny what you forget that you go through, isn't it? And in some ways, it is really useful having the blogs, as they do remind you what joys, challenges, and tribulations that you go through. The year started with me waking up one morning with a ferocious pain in the small of my back, so I did the decent thing and tried to see if there was an ..read more
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My First Memories Of Living With Cancer, Five Years On From Diagnosis
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
9M ago
Friday, September 15th, 2023, was a memorable day in the life and times of yours truly. It marked five years to the day since I had a rather unforgettable phone call at 10:37 am. At the time, I was still asleep in bed, as my sleeping pattern was all over the place. I was staying in a flat which was part of the uTrack office in Sutton Coldfield. As the phone rang, I woke up and looked at the number, which I did not recognize. So, I answered it. The voice on the other end said, "Is that Austin Birks?" I replied, "Yes." The chap then said, "This is Dr. John," who was the consultant at Nuffield He ..read more
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Reflections On Chemotherapy Dose 90, Small Scratch....
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
11M ago
As my good friend Noah, the nurse, delicately uttered the magic words "slight scratch," he seamlessly inserted the needle into the vein, which was bulging due to the tight blue stretch band around my arm. It got me thinking that, in reality, this is the 90th time I have heard those famous two words, "slight scratch." If you are not familiar with the NHS process, whenever you receive an injection, whether at a doctor's surgery or a hospital ward, the person about to administer the injection will always warn you just before the needle goes in that you might feel a "slight scratch." Now, when you ..read more
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Facing The Reality Of Fighting Cancer
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
1y ago
I have recently attended two remarkable funerals of two very unique people, both battling cancer. One fought for over 6 years, while the other battled for 4 years. Both had different types of cancer but displayed inspiring courage, resilience, and even great humor until the end of their struggle. My friend Dave was a fellow Karate practitioner, and we trained together for many years. He was a strong Karate practitioner with the biggest feet I had ever seen. I had to fight him when I took my third Dan several years ago. He was always a joy to be around, constantly smiling, and greeted everyone ..read more
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Why You Can Never Be Complacent With Cancer, As I Just Discovered
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
1y ago
Well, dear chums, let me set the scene if I may. I have recently been on a hardcore fitness regime, that has seen me seriously up my game, from one hour sessions to two hour sessions, involving serious calorie burning on the Watt bike, through to light Karate training in basics and kata, and then abdominal training involving sit ups, and supplementary exercises, then followed by static weight machines to bulk up back, pecs, and shoulders. All great stuff and been doing that every day for 15 days. On Saturday I taught kata for two hours, to be precise Gojushiho Dai, and Jiin, for those Karateka ..read more
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Two Fat Ladies Click Click Click, Dose 88 of Chemotherapy
The Bag for Life
by Austin Birks
1y ago
I used to enjoy playing Bingo once upon a time in this strange and wonderful world that I have lived in for 63 years. It was a different dimension. Back then I was a young father in my mid- thirties, we had a great life, a beautiful daughter, a nice home in a very pretty village deep in rural Worcestershire. Yes, life was good, we also had a very nice static caravan in Borth in a caravan park called Brynrodyn, with wonderful views that overlooked the sea. The sands on the beach were long and golden and I used to often reflect that these were the very same beaches that dad used to play on when ..read more
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