I Am Not a Survivor But I Am Thankful: Life after Cancer

It’s been two years since I received the news that I had Cancer. The past two years have been a roller-coaster journey with emotions and life.

The first year was hard, I didn’t know what the outcome of my treatment would be. I lived for the day, scared to make plans for my future. Scared for every appointment I had with my surgeon and oncologist.

It was hard to take it all at first, I had so many thoughts and feelings. Shock, anger, sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety and alone. My emotions caused confusion and mood swings. These emotions were all a part of me coming to terms with my illness and how I was going to cope. In that first week, I experienced every emotion possible that someone can go through.

You hear so many sad stories about Cancer that is it hard to stay positive. But I tried for the sake of my family and my own sanity.

Having Cancer can quickly take over your life and I didn’t want that the happen. There were days where I cried from morning to night, days where I didn’t talk and days where that’s all I wanted to do. I was afraid that I had not control over my body and what i wanted it to do. At first it was hard to talk about, I was ashamed of myself, my mind was trying to process what was happening and I just couldn’t get my head around it. My mind was telling me that I was going to die but my heart was saying something else. As the shock wore off it became easier and I became stronger with my emotions.

Everyday I woke to another day I was grateful and thankful.

For the first 6 months the treatment and illness quickly took over my life. I spent weeks having tests prior to 6 weeks of daily chemo/radiotherapy. The hospital became my second home. I was admitted three times into hospital, totalling 9 weeks in a hospital bed, one being a planned admission for surgery. I remember visiting a friend 2 months after I was discharged and bumping into a member of staff in the corridor. She gave me a friendly smile and said nice to see you back. I smiled back at her and she said ‘you used to work here didn’t you?’ I laughed.

As time has gone on it’s got easier to deal with but that doesn’t mean that I still have my moments. I still cry. I am still anxious about it returning. It is easier to talk about now, but I am still shameful. I still blame myself.

Anxiety is hard to deal with. Those moments are particularly harder when it comes to oncology appointments and scans. I receive 4 scans a year; 1 full body scan and 3 MRI. The week running up to the appointment is worrying and the weeks following the scan can be an anxious time. All you want to hear is that the Cancer has not returned. Sitting there in the patients chair in the oncologists room, looking, scanning over your oncologists face for any sign that you can read before the words come from their mouth. Looking into their eyes for sign of good news. And the emotion of a sudden relief when it comes back as positive news.

It was two years since my diagnosis last week and I received news from a recent scan that I am still in the clear of any return of tumours or any inflamed lymph nodes. RELIEF. I can suddenly breathe normally again and allow all those negative thoughts and feelings out into the air. Until next time…

Again I am grateful and thankful to be here surrounded by loved ones; family and friends.

I don’t see myself as a survivor as Cancer will remain with me for the rest fo my life, I have to live with the anxiety of it possibly returning. I have to live with the change that it has caused to my emotional well-being. I am constantly reminded of my Cancer journey with the disfigurement it has left on my body, with the aches and pains that the treatment has caused and with the scars that surgery has left behind. I have to live with having a permanent colostomy which has caused problems with my confidence. And I have to live with seeing the pain in my loved ones eyes when they remember what we have all been through. Cancer didn’t just affect me but to all those around me.

I am not a survivor but I am thankful.

 

 

 

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