Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: Tea, cake and cancer - life after thebig C

Author: Jenny R

Hour 1 - Tears, lots of tears, a welling up of emotions that I can't pin point. How do I feel? I couldn't tell you. Lost is probably the best answer. Lost, scared, alone. Definitely not elated or jubilant or any of those words you might imagine me using. Like so much in the last six months it feels unreal. Unreal to have finished treatment, unreal to have finished radiotherapy, chemotherapy. Unreal to have lost my hair. Unreal to have been given the diagnosis.

My husband always commented that it rained on hospital days, well today the sun shone, I'd cast off the winter coat in favour of a slightly lighter one and my sunglasses masked my tears. I treated myself to a twix and ate it sitting on a bench in the park looking out at Edinburgh Castle.

Part of me wished I'd brought my allotment key with me, the other part didn't know what to do, so I ate the twix and cried. And then with the sun sheltering behind a wispy cloud I gathered my belongings and retreated to one of my favourite cafes, where I sat and completed a post radiotherapy questionnaire (get all things cancer related out of the way) and tried to unwind over a pot of green tea and a raspberry friand. Let the moving on begin.

Day 2 - Convalescing. That's the word I've taken from yesterday's Where Now course run by my local Maggie's Centre. Being kind to myself, letting my body repair. It's easier said than done. I had lunch with my work colleagues today as one of them is leaving. After just over an hour I'm wiped out and I'm trying to make myself stay in town so I can go to his leaving do later. The sensible, and kind to myself, approach would be to get the bus home, rest for a couple of hours and then go back out. Instead I'm sitting in a cafe with a book I can't concentrate on, earl grey tea and a slice of plum and hazelnut polenta cake which isn't hitting the spot. I find it very hard to acknowledge my tiredness. I think I see it as admitting defeat. Even whilst I sit here drinking my tea, and nibbling on the bits of plum, I'm thinking I should get a leaving card on my way home, I should do this, I should do that. And because I'm so tired, my emotions are close to the surface and I could cry. In fact if I don't go home soon, I will cry.

Month 2 - Having had the opportunity to cry all afternoon I seem to have chosen now when I'm meeting a friend. To start I had another lump which they checked out this morning and its all okay so there's a feeling of relief but also the very clear realisation that I don't trust my own body, that I've lost faith in it and that, honestly, I don't like it. Now I know/knew all of this was true, it’s a big part of what we talk about at Maggie's Centre, but the reality of feeling like this is sinking in.

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Write for the blog! This blog is one of a series being shared on the Young Women's Breast Cancer Blog UK during October, breast cancer awareness month, but the blog is here year round. If you are a young woman in the UK who has/had a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to be a part of this blog, please have a read of the additional information here.
Check your breasts
Breast cancer can happen to any of us - regardless of age. Information about how to check your breasts can be found on the Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now websites.
Further information and support:
Younger Breast Cancer Network UK - an online chat and support group for women under the age of 45 in the UK who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.
Baldly Beautiful - a YouTube channel with make up demonstrations, created by Mac makeup artist Andrea Pellegrini who went through chemo herself in 2014.
Take A Moment - This is a group for women (all ages) who have/had breast cancer who want to explore, reflect on and express their feelings and experiences through photography. This is a link to the public page - to join the group, send them a message.
The Osborne Trust - Providing children of parents with cancer the opportunity to access time out recreational activities whilst their parents undergo operations and treatments
Jen's Friends - Free heart-shaped pillows for women (and men) with Breast Cancer. Designed to provide comfort and protection after a Mastectomy operation.

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