It’s been around 6 weeks since I last posted. Not because things have been so awful, but because I’ve been generally carrying on life as normal. I’ve had the obligatory ming mouth, full of ulcers and grossness, and the eyeball headaches, but apart from feeling a bit ‘meh’, I’ve been ok. Life appears to others to be resuming as normal; I’ve got my last chemo in 3 days, radiotherapy has been confirmed as 5 weeks and will be arranged as soon as I see my oncologist again on Weds, where we will also discuss when I will start taking Tamoxifen. So, where others can see an end in sight, I see the potential of recurrence, secondaries and infertility. I’m finding it hard to be thankful that the end of active treatment is in sight, because I know it’s not the end. I know it won’t be the end in 5 years when I finish taking Tamoxifen. It will never be the end, because I will always be terrified of it coming back.
Today, I read of another young woman my age passing away from secondary breast cancer. I didn’t know her, and neither read her blog until today, but somehow feel connected to her. We are all in this little club which you are only allowed in to by invite which is determined by some messed up cells and genes in your body. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that she died at the age of 31 and it’s not fair that I am forced to think about death at the age of 32. I’ve had enough of that over my lifetime already, thank you very much.
So, in the spirit of mindfulness and CBT and all the other things that my brother would love, I have decided that this week, I am making changes. I will acknowledge that these bad things do happen, but will move my focus on what is good in the world…and there is a lot out there folks. My friend and colleague shaved her head to help me raise funds for my treatment and charity too, which means the cost of my radiotherapy is covered, as is the rest of my drugs and some flights. This has been the nicest thing that anyone has done for me, and left me quite speechless, but also helped me to see that there are some real diamonds in this world, and I’m lucky enough to know quite few of them.
A lot of people have offered me things over the past few months, and I have felt humbled, yet embarrassed to take them up on them. Well, this week, I have decided to give that l WILL give that lady a call for the free reiki, and I WILL enjoy a glass of wine in Bangkok at our swanky hotel without worrying about my liver function blood test, and I WON’T feel guilty about buying an iPad because, quite frankly, I think I deserve a gift. I WILL acknowledge that these past few months have been terrifying and at times bloody awful, and I haven’t quite endured pain like chemotherapy before, but I’ve plodded on, amidst the cheers and “you’re so brave” and the “you’ll beat this” comments that I have ignored, because: a) I’m not brave, I’m just trying to survive – you’d do exactly the same. What really is the alternative? and b) It’s not a fight, I’m not trying to win anything, I don’t want to be applauded for turning into a sick cancer patient. It’s again about survival. But I shall do it all with a smile on my face. Having cancer really does test your sense of humour, and thank god I’ve retained mine, because it has helped me through; it’s helped me go from crying every day to twice a week, to once a fortnight, to just when I need to. It’s helped me tackle the whole wig situation with gusto (seriously, washing your hair in the sink with fabric conditioner genuinely does make you smile). It’s helped me deal with stories of people dying. It’s helped me deal with the fact that my life will forever be dominated by hospitals and high insurance premiums just because I have some little gene mutation. It’s helped me to enjoy things, even just sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea, watching the rain fall.
I have been wondering why these negative thoughts have reared their heads this week, after all this time, and have realised it’s because I’ve not been at work, with teenagers’ problems taking up my time. Work is good for me. I know that now. I know and appreciate how lucky I am to love my job. So, for the first time EVER, I’m looking forward to returning to work after the Easter hols, with my last chemo behind me and with positive thoughts of the future. Sure, those positive thoughts include finding a surgeon to discuss a double mastectomy and reconstruction with, but hey, this is my life now. Might as well find the best surgeon I can and get some crackers, and I am in the land of plastic surgery after all. When in Rome…
So I shall leave you all, after waxing lyrical about stuff. This entry is a little self-indulgent, but we are all entitled to that once in a while. Plus, I get to play the cancer card, which obviously means I’m allowed to do anything I want 🙂