I think about cancer all the time, will this ever go away? If my treatment has worked successfully, like my breast care nurse says it has, then there isn't any cancer in my body anymore. It's gone away. In which case my body is starting to forget all about it. It does look that way. My hair is growing back, my eyelashes are growing back, my eyebrows are growing back. My mouth isn't sore any more, my nose doesn't run, my eyes don't stream. My body is moving on. But my mind hasn't forgotten. Cancer is still in my mind all the time. I might as well be riddled with it.
Do you ever manage to forget about cancer once you've had it? Can you ever go a whole day without thinking about it? Carefree, or distracted enough by normal day to day jobs and worries and tasks that you don't even have time to think about cancer. Or do thoughts of cancer always trump everything else?
If you make yourself not think about cancer are you burying your feelings? Blocking things out that will niggle in your subconscious anyway and cause you bother down the line. Or worse, if you make yourself not think about cancer are you tempting fate? What about the reminders of cancer around your house, like headscarves, anti-sickness tablets, all those leaflets you get from the hospital. Do you put them away in a cupboard out of sight? Or get rid of them all together - which just seems like an invitation for the cancer to come straight back and teach you a lesson for being so complacent.
How do you find the right balance between acknowledging that cancer has been a part of your life, and using that to make the most of your life because you don't know what might happen in the future, and forgetting about it enough that it doesn't spoil time you have that as far as anyone can tell is "cancer free"?
No-one gives you the answers to these questions. When you have chemo there's a 24 hour chemo line. You have to phone it if the slightest thing happens. Sore throat - call the chemo line for advice and instruction. Sore fingers - call the chemo line for advice and instruction. Sickness - call the chemo line for advice and instruction.
When you have surgery you are under the care of doctors and nurses. They check your wounds, change your dressings, check your body for bed sores, give you painkillers. When you're sent home from hospital it's with a bag of medications, lots of instructions, and a series of appointments to come back for checks - plus a phone number to call in between times with questions or concerns. They tell you exactly what to do and when.
When you have radiotherapy you are checked by hospital staff every single day. Sore skin - you tell them, and they advise. Again, you're given clear instructions about what to do. How warm to have the water in the shower, what kind of clothes to wear, what you can put on your skin. Follow the instructions and you'll be ok.
But when it comes to your mind, and the way thoughts of cancer infiltrate your mind - there is no 24 hour phone line, no ongoing check up appointments, no clear instructions about what you should do and when in order to get better.
So I'm not even sure whether the question is how do you forget about cancer, or, should you forget about cancer?