It’s been a while. Part of me wants to apologise to you for the radio silence but most of me knows that you understand.
I finished my fifteen sessions of radiotherapy on February 7th 2020. For anyone not familiar with what the practicality of this entails; for me it involved daily sessions at a hospital that was an hour and fifteen minute drive away. So that is two and a half hours driving, half an hour queuing (on a good day) to get into said hospital car park and between 30-60minutes on the radiation table. Every day book ended by taking the kids to school and picking them up. To say it was fun might be a stretch. But there you have it.
I finished the treatment physically and emotionally exhausted.
I remember thinking before any of this had started that I would throw a massive party when it was all over. Except at the point where active treatment was actually over with, celebrating was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t and still don’t feel like a battle has been won. I have not ‘beat’ cancer. You don’t ‘beat’ cancer. It is not a competition of the strongest. You may be given the words ‘at this point there is no evidence of cancer in your body that we know of’ but it’s generally people, respectfully, who have never had those words delivered to them directly who think that the term ‘cancer free’ is a real thing.
Because unfortunately once you have had cancer, the conversations you then have in medical terms centre around survival statistics, recurrence and data. You can, of course, hear these conversations loudly or quietly.
I am choosing not to live in fear about ‘tomorrow’ despite the pain in my chest of course I link to potential lung metastasis, even though rationally I know better. Just because I choose not to live in fear, doesn’t mean I don’t pass it on my way out of the door every day (at least I would if I could leave the bloody house right now #covid19). We just give each other a subtle acknowledgement of respect and carry on our merry way. There are days it jumps on my back and I can’t shake it off, as much as I try. So I let it stay, because it knows as well as I do that it isn’t allowed to stay for long.
I am sometimes sad. I remember the utter despair and emotional disturbance during that first chemotherapy infusion. I can feel it like it was yesterday. I can literally feel my body being flooded with poison and my soul in utter conflict. I can remember the sad acceptance of subsequent infusions. Chemotherapy emotionally reduced me to a shell.
It is not all doom and gloom…
My hair is returning, slowly but surely. I have a wonderful boyfriend who decided that when I was at my very weakest and ‘worst’ he only saw my strength and ‘best’. My kids are thriving and happy despite not being able to see their friends and it would seem that their well honed ability to adapt and accept change has gifted them with great emotional strength and understanding for this global chaos we find ourselves in. They also know that ‘this too shall pass’ as everything does.
And so to be honest I have been taking things a day at a time and feeling what I feel as and when it comes up. With as little pressure on myself as possible.
What I do know is that throughout everything I have made choices. And I am here now because of my choices. I choose to do what I can to raise awareness without living in it and if I can shine a light for other’s when their paths are dark then I will but I am not defined by cancer. I own my experiences and am grateful for what I have learnt. Even if this has been the hardest lesson of my life.
So this is me for now…signing off as ‘Boobless’ and stepping into the ‘Bounce Back’ stage.
To those who have not been as lucky. xx