I suffered a deep psychological rift after cancer.
Nothing felt the same again.
Everything felt so different.
Even after the initial six month shock started to lose its sting I knew very well I had crossed over into a place I didn’t know – uncharted, waiting to be discovered.
Start living from scratch just like a kid getting to know its way around in the world for the first time.
Stumble and fall in the face of a fear I never fathomed before and only used to dread at a comfortably safe distance.
Get up again.
Keep holding on tight in spite of this encroaching terrible fear I never thought I’d suffer, yet now surrounds me.
Yes, that’s how it feels when you know you’ve got cancer.
So take stock of what has been, see where you’re now, reinvent yourself, change as many things as you must in order to survive the present moment and move on forward with fresh hope.
Early stage invasive melanoma is considered to be very treatable and a cure is expected with the majority of patients.
Even so, you know you’re in the company of all those who’ve gone before you on their journeys of brushing with cancer.
But it doesn’t have to stop there –
Each new day brings with it fresh hope and joy and a full gratitude for being alive every minute that goes by.
Fresh opportunities so far untried beckon, and hope does indeed start to spring anew when you begin to realise that those fears you once had, during that time gone by when you were still cancer free, have now receded far into the distance.
People I met on the road to Medjugorje frequently asked me –
“Isn’t it dangerous to cycle all alone at night?”
“Aren’t you afraid you might get hurt?”
“Storms? Dogs? Drunk drivers? Held up? Robbed? Beaten?”
Because there’s nothing at all for many kilometres at a stretch between one village and the next – no safe places to stop at should you run into serious trouble.
Zero road lighting once you cycle out of town.
Pitch peat darkness save the glistening shimmer of moonlight reflected off the tarmac stretching out into the black void ahead.
And there are those nights when even the stars and moon are missing, obscured by cloud.
Only the high intensity LED light beam piercing the solid curtain of black blocking my path forward as I keep pushing on into the darkness.
3 a.m. rumbling hunger pangs.
A parched thirst – niggling my lips, mouth, throat – that just doesn’t seem to go away.
How could it?
So many times I cycle scared and keep moving on through the night even though I know I must stop in the dark and drink.
I wouldn’t ever have considered attempting such a challenging journey had it not been for my melanoma ordeal.
True, I cycled scared many times.
But it’s also true to say that because of having survived melanoma I felt I could go beyond all I had previously done with my bike.
I was not getting reckless and trying to pull off some macho feat.
No way – I reckon I’m not that stupid.
On the contrary I could now see that what most people fear in normal circumstances could be feared less once you’ve been through hell.
Added perspective and a new way of sizing up things which you only get after suffering major life changing trauma.
After three a half weeks of chronic disordered sleep I completed the first major hurdle of my journey as I cycled into Bari at the break of dawn.
Over one thousand kilometres across Sicily, Calabria and Basilicata.
I cycled most of this distance at night and always alone.
But wait, I’m wrong.
For my God was watching over me every day, every night that went by.
And I know She was watching over me too.
All my way to Medjugorje.
David Bugeja All Text and Photographs Copyright (c) 2016 All rights reserved