Chris created Cancer Survivors Club to share inspiring tales
WHEN Chris Geiger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he spent hours scouring bookshops, desperately hunting for books by people who had fought and survived cancer.
"Ironically, coincidently or probably luckily for me, the night before I was diagnosed, I watched a film about Bob Champion, a jump jockey who fought and won his battle with cancer and then amazingly went on to win the Grand National," he said.
"The film was based on the book called Champion's Story, which he wrote with his friend Jonathan Powell.
"Little did Bob know that his story would create an idea to inspire me. Watching his film kept me fighting despite my diagnosis and ultimately led me to write a book."
Chris endured two years of cancer treatment, operations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant before he was in remission.
"I'm convinced having a target, being positive and having the distraction of writing every day got me through my treatment," he said.
"Daily I wrote a diary, creating a light-hearted memoir, recording my thoughts, feelings and treatment.
"Within weeks I was back at work again, trying to act as if the previous two years hadn't happened. Any ideas of writing a cancer survival book were purposely forgotten.
"Not because I didn't care, but every time I re-lived events, I instantly smelled those disinfected hospital wards, tasted the chemotherapy or pictured the faces of those poor patients who weren't as lucky as me.
"Each time I recalled these events I was physically sick, ruining a good shirt and triggering those awful recurring nightmares."
Chris said his inspiration to write his book, The Cancer Survivors Club, came while recalling his experience.
"I wanted to read stories of other 'normal' cancer survivors, for encouragement and guidance for myself and my family," he said.
"So began my personal campaign to create awareness and help patients and their families. This book is the result of one of those projects.
"My hope is cancer sufferers, their families and friends will gain strength and encouragement from the stories within this book."
The Cancer Survivors Club is a collection of inspirational stories from cancer survivors, including Gold Coast resident, Shelly Ostrouhoff.
An excerpt from Chris's letter - full version is in The Cancer Survivors Club:
I feel compelled after all these years to write to you and tell you how I feel.
I guess you know I was a fit 24-year-old. I guess you also know I never smoked and only drank moderately at a weekend. So why did you pick me?
For eight months I continually visited my doctor. He was convinced that I was stressed or asthmatic, despite losing weight, struggling to breathe and knowing the slightest exertion would tire me out for days.
Eventually after waking up from a general anaesthetic, having just had an operation on my chest to discover what was causing all my problems, I was told they'd found you lurking, wedged between my heart and lungs.
The surgeon sat down on my bed, wiggled my toe and said you'd arrived.
Initially I was actually pleased they'd found you, having felt so unwell for so long.
I wrongly assumed I'd swallow a couple of tablets and you'd disappear.
The surgeon was a little more concerned than me about finding you. He said you'd kill me within three months and I had a battle on my hands.
In my mind I imagined you as a lump of melting snow, black ugly slush that's found at the side of the road.
A snowball the size of one-and-a-half grapefruits buried in my chest. My consultant said it looked like I'd swallowed a dinner plate.
Our first battle together was with radiotherapy. You were clever, you were obviously experienced or expecting this.
The radiotherapy did little to destroy you. For 10 days you withstood the onslaught admirably. I was left exhausted.
Our next battle was with chemotherapy, but not just once.
You and I continued sparring like heavyweight boxers, both of us putting up a courageous battle.
You withstanding the onslaught of every chemotherapy drug I could get my hands on.
Then eventually came my masterstroke. I'd finally convinced reluctant oncologists that a bone marrow transplant would finish you off once and for all.
Finally the time had come and I arrived at University College Hospital, in London. This was going to be the location of our final battle.
It was now or never. However 20 months of fighting you had taken its toll on me.
For you that's the end of the story, the end of your involvement with me. However for me I had a lot of recovering both mentally and physically.
Sadly I can never forget our duel, but do hope you regretted picking on me.
If you had one ounce of humanity or intelligence, you'd recognise it's just a matter of time before you'll be wiped off this planet and extinct forever.
I hope you rot in hell.
Always your number one enemy.