Saturday, 10 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: Did that really happen?

Author: Emma C

Did that really happen?

This time last year I suppose I was still in denial, self protection mode, drifting through a cloud... I can't even say.

Following my diagnosis everything moved so fast. My healthcare put me on the treatment treadmill at lightening speed. From 'that news' hearing it, absorbing it, I could cope with that but telling people, that was the worst bit for me. Seeing pain in the eyes of those I love, then the shock, pity, fear, upset of my colleagues. But once it was out there, I was still me.

Although I technically had cancer, I felt no different after diagnosis than prior to it. I didn't want to be a patient. It was a pathway, some days I was a cancer patient, at hospital, having chemo but that treatment took enough of my good days, I wouldn't let it take the days that were mine. The week after 'that news' I was in treatment.

If you're reading this you'll have your own experiences. This illness tests every element of your fibre. Your nerve, strength, belief and so much more, you draw on every shred of your being to get you through it.

I tried not to question 'why?' too much, tried to keep busy, working stupid hours, raising my daughter, being a good wife, really I didn't have time.

I had to learn to have faith in people, trust people, ask for help. All those who knew me wouldn't offer help as they knew I was too proud. It just made for awkward situations.

How did I deal with it? Cope? Any advice? I worked, read, I ran, miles and miles, I made soup. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't, I even baked. And yes it was strangely therapeutic. I wrote lists, started yoga, acupuncture, creating memories for my daughter. I didn't look in mirrors much, I didn't recognise the steroid puffy faced baldy hiding behind a wig. But mostly I just got on with it. Every day was a day closer.

Then it peters away, all the drama subsides then one day you're still in treatment but technically don't have cancer any more. Life is weird for a bit, having to deinstitutionalise yourself. Trust yourself in the real world, no steers from medical professionals, normality sets up home again... And I started to live again, a second chance, a new start, appreciating life, remembering and aware, but not looking back...

What is my lasting memory of what cancer gave me after 13 months, it brought me back to my family, brought me new friends, renewed friendships with old friends. It's given me more than it ever took.

I know I'm one of the lucky ones, but one thing that was a constant, I never stopped believing in life.

Hope this helps x

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