One year on

On 8th March last year I was diagnosed with a tumour in my bowel. Later, it was discovered to have spread to my liver. Two operations in April and July went well, and no chemo was possible, due to the type of cancer (MSI). From July onwards I have been recovering, from the physical and mental impact.

Physically, it has been a slow recovery of energy and strength, but I am now walking 25 miles a week and playing walking football and pickleball.

Mentally, the biggest challenge is paying attention to the nagging fear, trying not to catastrophise and just living each day as it unfolds.

Every check up brings the fear to the surface; the ‘what ifs’ niggle away. At the end of last month I had the six month check up: bloods and CT scan. On 8th March this year I got the all clear! What a relief. No more check ups for 12 months.

As I look back at that year I am struck by what has changed. Having to let go of all of my work was easy at first, but the habit of work still hung around. However, I have done very little photography. Initially, this was because I was physically tired. But after a while I noticed that I had just lost interest. I felt overwhelmed by the repetitive views; unstimulated and indifferent to photographic opportunity.

I’m not sure why this happened, perhaps the challenges were just too much for my visionary creativity! However, the creative urge emerged elsewhere.

I have been developing a story idea, and now I have a completed 1st draft of a sci-fi novel. I’m currently deep into the editing process. Who knows where this will lead.

I do know that I have to make a decision about whis website next month; related licences are due for renewal, or to be cancelled. It’s a significant decision, one I’m still uncertain about. Maybe it’s time to let go of mindful photography and move on.

Before that happens, I will be posting a few photos from our recent holiday in Costa Rica. Something about the new sights revitalised my interest, temporarily. The photo that accompanies this post is from that set, and reminds me that even a sky can show you something unlike anything you have seen before. If you look very carefully, you can see Venus.

15 replies
  1. Cheryl Kaiser
    Cheryl Kaiser says:

    Lee, I’m thrilled to hear of your “all clear” results! I also want to encourage you to NOT feel any guilt about your shifting interest, I completely get it because I have been going through similar over the last 10 years or so. We have life seasons and interests for a reason. Know that the work you have done through mindful photography resulted in a following of folks who were deeply impacted by your work, probably in more ways than you will ever realize. I too gained so much inspiration and perspective, and I have your books you generously shared with the world to look back on. Each time I read or scan through one I’m inspired in some new way. So as you enjoy living each day as it unfolds, follow YOUR heart. It sounds like this new interest will be a fun and exciting new chapter to your legacy! Also know that in other ways, your mindful photography and perspective will be missed. I hope you’ll continue to share to your email list of your new endeavors! (And maybe keeping this same domain and share your journey to your first book ).

    • leeaspland
      leeaspland says:

      Thanks Cheryl. I like the phrase ‘life seasons’, that kinda feels right. Thanks too for your kind comments. Hope all is well with you.

  2. Clive Prosser
    Clive Prosser says:

    Absolutely wonderful news and great to hear how positive you are looking forward. Your decision to keep the website is an important one but the most important one is you keep in touch.

      • Michael Mathews
        Michael Mathews says:

        I was re-reading your book on mindful photography this morning and wanted to check in. I’m so glad to read your update! Congratulations on your continued recovery. Know that you’ve impacted and improved the lives of many, including me: your words and philosophy have helped me through a few dark patches in a way no one else could. We’re all wishing you the best, whatever that may be for you.

        • leeaspland
          leeaspland says:

          Hi Michael. Many thanks for your kind words. It is always a pleasure to receive feedback about the positive impact my writing has has had. Your comments are much appreciated. Lee

  3. Paula Jones
    Paula Jones says:

    Thank you for sharing. Great news about your all clear as well as your new writing career in Sci Fi. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. I have really enjoyed your online courses, your pdf books and the tasks you set for us during Covid.
    Along with the rest of your readers, I wish you all the very best health-wise. I look forward to reading your new books!

  4. Ian Sharp
    Ian Sharp says:

    Hi Lee,

    Good to read your post and to discover you are doing well.

    I’m interested in your feelings about resuming photography. I’m in a similar place, albeit for different reasons. For many years I was heavily into photography, back in the days of film cameras. Then there was an enforced gap before, about twenty years ago, I bought an early DSLR. It’s been badly stored and unused for about fifteen of those years though.

    Recently I’ve been looking for a retirement project and started taking iPhone photos, casually, somewhat mindfully. So I decided to see if I could revive the DSLR and, with a new battery etc, it’s in full working condition. However, it seems my enthusiasm for ‘serious’ photography is not.

    I guess I’ll use the camera casually but the idea of photography being my ‘thing’, rather to my surprise, isn’t really happening. No inspiration to fire the shutter, and not really enjoying staring at a laptop screen to post-process images.

    What really struck me about your post, and why I’m moved to respond, is that writing seems to have many creative possibilities for me too, now. I’m without a strong story idea – yet. It will come. I’ve always enjoyed playing with language and, in my mid-sixties, it’s a case of if not now – when?

    It looks as if Substack is a good platform for writers – no hosting fees, the opportunity to build a mailing list, and the potential to receive subscription income (eventually).

    All the best with whatever is next for you, Lee. If you change tack I look forward to reading.


    • leeaspland
      leeaspland says:

      Hi Ian

      Thanks for your fascinating post. I agree, seize the day, start writing. I have had so much pleasure finding my way through the creation of a story. Playing with language is just part of the fun; there is also character development, plot structure, description, dialogue….I could go on. I have been learning as I go and that has been part of the pleasure; gaining knowledge and skills and meeting new people (on courses). Go for it, there is nothing to lose!

  5. Sue Riseley
    Sue Riseley says:

    Good news Lee on your ongoing recovery, your return to physical fitness, and your journey going forward. Whatever you decide to do in the future I’m sure you will succeed at. Sue x


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