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Christopher Geal (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Christopher Geal (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments underwent

I was diagnosed in 2018 with stage three colorectal cancer at the age of 38. No one expects to have cancer but I had symptoms for a while. It was confirmed in my scan report that I had cancer. My treatment lasted for a year which consisted of chemo, radiation, and surgery. The symptoms that I had were irregular bowel movements and blood in my stool. I had those symptoms for a couple of years. Doctors said that I was too young for this type of cancer until my symptoms started to get worse. Finally, I went for a colonoscopy. Within ten minutes of my colonoscopy, it was pretty clear that I had cancer.

My reaction after the news

I went into that colonoscopy thinking I had irritable bowel syndrome but walked out with colorectal cancer. So it was quite a surprise for me. But once my treatment process started, I started to accept what had happened.

Coping up emotionally and my support system

It took me a couple of weeks to come to terms with what was happening to me. My survivability was 50-50 as per the doctors. I had young children who were five and seven at the time and a wife. I started to think about damage control and how to get through it. I've always been healthy and ran marathons. So I started to incorporate training into my treatment plan. I kept training, like running. My children knew I had cancer, but they were too young to understand what it meant. My wife supported me all the way through. And as a family, we got through it. Not only do I have heaps of support from my family but also from my wider family. It really helped a lot. 

Awareness about cancer

Awareness is important as timing matters a lot in the case of cancer. I had symptoms for two to three years before my diagnosis. If I didnt think that I was too young or too fit for this disease then I would have taken some actions earlier. I think if people have better awareness, then they can act sooner. It's good to see that awareness is starting to spread, particularly about my type of cancer and colonoscopies. 

Alternative therapies

I opted for some complementary therapies. I used cannabis oil not to get rid of my cancer, but to manage the symptoms associated with chemotherapy. My training and fitness played an important role as well. I stayed very active during my cancer experience. Also, I tried to eat a healthy diet.

Breakout method

I work with cancer survivors, especially through the breakout approach. It helps them understand how important their mindset is when it comes to their cancer experience. A person either sees their cancer journey as a catastrophe or an opportunity. And once we make that decision, we start to work through that. But don't get me wrong, cancer is a dreadful disease. There is a lot of cancer that can take us. So the mindset is a very important part of breakout. Coherence helps people understand the importance of mindfulness. So, meditation, breathwork, and other mindfulness-based strategies can really help. So, the breakout method is a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach to cancer or to helping cancer survivors rather than the usual conventional methods like medication and pain relief.

Experience with the doctors and other medical staff

My experience with doctors and medical staff was very good. I was in Ireland at the time in Dublin. The medical team was wonderful. So I really felt very comfortable during my cancer experience. I had the best possible outcome that I could possibly hope for.

Positive changes

I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for cancer. Before I had cancer, I worked in a lot of corporate and leadership roles in big companies and led a stressful life. There was a change of perspective in your life. I have reevaluated my priorities and started to focus on what's important. Shortly after I finished my treatment, we moved to Spain. I have coached cancer survivors and worked with leaders across the world. So I'm delighted with my life and cancer is a big part of that.

Message to survivors and caregivers

My main message is don't let your life revolve around cancer. Let cancer revolve around your life. People get consumed by it after being diagnosed. There's so much more that you can do with your life, whether you have cancer or not. Cancer is not a death sentence anymore. People have very good probabilities now. You can take it as an opportunity to change your life. Don't let it be the end, let it be the beginning. If you are someone who is on the cancer journey, you must get your treatment.

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