I went to Manchester last Monday to meet with British Cycling. It wasn’t anything to do with marginal gains.

Most people are talking about the track World Championships in Poland later this month and how to go faster. But I met with the physio, team doctor and coach and we came up with a plan about how best to navigate the six-and-a-half weeks of radiotherapy I have coming up.

Let’s just say it isn’t something which is ideal when it comes to high performance sport.

The marginal gains culture at British Cycling is characterised by things like taking your own pillows with you, or what kind of mattress you are going to use, in order to maximise your rest and improve your performance in races. That stuff seems so irrelevant when you are fighting for your life.

READ MORE: The David Smith column: Part I | 'My new year’s resolution for 2019 is to live'

I like to laugh about my condition, but they know how serious it is. The team doctor said I didn’t look any different to how I did when I saw him before surgery but we just focused on what I had to do to get back.

They want to err on the side of caution because they don’t want me to hurt myself and go off like a maniac. Sometimes I can do that: I go off in a bubble and just push myself too hard.

I’ve done nine hours on the bike this week already but from the moment radiotherapy starts, we set ourselves the target that every day I just get on the bike and do what I can do. If it 10 minutes it is

10 minutes, and if it is 20 it is 20. That is perfect because I know that immersing myself in radiotherapy is not enough for me. I need something else to give me a reason to survive.

I’ve heard all about radiotherapy before, I’ve just never undergone it. I’ve already been reading the best way to prepare for radiotherapy, fitness wise, nutrition wise, meditation, relaxation. These things are huge when you go in for any of these procedures.

The next six-and-a-half weeks might not be physically hard, but I know it will test my limits mentally. When I got back from hospital after my planning meeting, I sat and cried for three hours.

It actually starts on March 4, just over a fortnight from now. And the doctors tell me that by June I should be okay. Until then I might be a little bit up and down.

As for the medical planning meeting, it is just like any other – there are physicists there, radiologists, oncologists. They tell me when and where the beam is going to go in, how strong it is going to be, because you only get one chance. Starting in just over a fortnight, I will undergo an hour of radiation each day for six and a half weeks, the whole process taking three or four hours.

READ MORE: The David Smith column: Part II | 'There is a battle going on inside my head'

The radiotherapy is to remove the remaining parts of the tumour that are too dangerous to be removed in surgery. If they had been removed in theatre I would either have died or been paralysed from the neck down.

But a whole dose of that beam of radiation for six and a half weeks should kill those last remaining cells. They will just die and shrink, or stay as they are. If they keep on growing that is another situation, but I am trying not to think about that.

I am sitting in the radiation oncology waiting room, waiting for my mask to be fitted. Basically the mask is to protect the rest of your head and face from radiation.

A young girl – no older than eight – walks past with her family. Her mum holds her teddy bear and the young girl walks with complete confidence into the room. I have to tell myself not to cry. This is a heart breaking room to be in, looking around knowing some people in here will live and some won’t.

As the mask goes on it’s hard not to panic. Imaging carbon fibre been wrapped around your face tightly, as if being suffocated. I lie there for six minutes as it moulds to my face.

With step one ticked off on this radiology journey, the next is a CT scan with my new moulded mask. The girl said this will be tight now as it’s cold. She wasn’t joking.

As it was clamped on to my head, I thought this is what six and half weeks are going to feel like. Ten minutes later I am out of the scan and off to get bloods done for base values before radiation starts.

READ MORE: The David Smith column. Part III | Surgery, cables and a brush with Dr Steve Peters

When I arrive home to an empty house, I feel incredibly alone and sit in tears.

I know I am strong, but even strong people cry. Caledonia by Dougie MacLean was playing on the radio and the words resonated with me on my journey.

Music is the soundtrack to your life, isn’t it? Every song is attached to a memory, like the music in the car as I drove home after my first diagnosis.

For nine years I have self guided through this battle. I have searched for answers and spent most of my life savings on tests and doctors trying to find help. That day in hospital I felt like I finally found that place. When the doctor said this will be like a family, I could have broken down in tears right there in the room. After all these years I now have a place where I feel safe.

I feel like I’ve been lost for nine years, but now I have a whole team of people wanting to save my life. You’ve had to do all your own reading and all your own research but you don’t need to worry about that now.

I’ve got two external hard drives and one of them is pretty much full of medical papers, everything from genetics, to radiotherapy, all sort of medical interventions. One of those hard drives is basically nine years of research.

I have become an expert on spinal cord injury (SCI). I know how studies say it leaves you with significantly reduced life expectancy. But I am not scared of dying and I am happy to talk about it. If we talk about it and become more aware of it, would we live each day differently?

Ask yourself how much time you have lost this week on things you didn’t need to do or on Facebook rather than getting out there and living.

The person you will speak with the most is yourself, this conversation can be healthy or damaging, but getting to know your self is important so you can be a better person tomorrow than you were today.

Finding meaning in suffering is a challenge. So I tell myself that my suffering will give me the ability to understand and help others, giving my life a purpose. At one point I guess we all ask ourselves that question.

I have been delighted with the reaction to this column. The one a couple of weeks ago saved somebody’s life. A guy I know said he was suffering in silence, said he was having suicidal thoughts. He told me he now knows he needs to manage them to make sure he doesn’t act.

If I am suffering, then hopefully it is for a reason. But things like that are a tick in the box. When you are sitting in those rooms and it is all quite tough, things like that give you purpose.