The Cancer has shown me that I am loved. It has shown me the pure, unconditional love that my family and friends have for me. It has shown me that there are quite a few people who would be really pissed if something happened to me, how great is that to actually know, not to think or to hope but to actually know! For year I struggled wondering why people were my friends, what it was that made them think I was so great …
Love has come in the form of swearing when told the news about “The Cancer”, my favourite swear words flying from one mouth, another swearing in the middle of the shops when she never swears at all. It has come in the form of swearing when I have given people no permission but to be positive – you can bugger off if you are going to be miserable about this.
This is my thing; I choose how we deal with it. Thinking back that is the most powerful part of this last year. I decided right from the start how it would be dealt with … okay I have news, I don’t want to hear any miserable carry on about it, I’m lucky it has been found and it can be treated, it is going to be taken out, treatment done and we can get on with our lives. I’m certain that’s why I called it “The Cancer” taking it outside myself and who I was, that was my way of dealing with it.
One friend kept having to remind me that I was actually sick, I would say something about not feeling up to doing something or being exhausted and not knowing why – he would roll his eyes and say, “Ummm you’re sick, remember?!” And you know what, I didn’t remember, not until I was reminded, I had already decided I was going to just get on with what was required and then piss off back to my life.
The Cancer has taught me that I do actually need to put my health first, I am a dopey cow as it did take getting “The Cancer” to realize that should be number one on the priority list. So now comes the after “The Cancer” thing of reflecting on what I have learnt and what I need to change.
The Cancer has shown me that I am lucky to live now, in this time, in this country, with this health system – yes people say it is buggered but the people who work in oncology and hospitals with patients who have cancer are fabulous happy people who care, they do stuff for you and when you are not well you want that.
The Cancer has shown me I am the eternal optimist. The thing about life is … it can be filled with joy even at the blackest of times. This is how I work, automatically my brain goes to the positives – well the cancer isn’t as bad as my mum’s was, it isn’t as bad as my sister’s was and she is here and kicking goals seventeen years later! My feelings go to the positives – well I have family and friends who love me and want to look after me … I don’t go black first I go colour and light and celebration of life first.
The Cancer has shown me that the black can sneak up on you and if you aren’t careful about it, it will take you over. The black is frightening, it could overwhelm you, take over your every thing if you aren’t careful to put it aside. But should it always be put aside, should you do something about it? But then if you do something about it and think about it more it might make it happen, that thing that causes the black, that thing I can’t write down or even say. No I am not going to do anything but put it aside, it cannot take my time, my thoughts, my life.
The Cancer has shown me that I really can deal with anything; I pull my socks up and get on with it. I knew that was my attitude to life and now I have proof, suck it up princess and deal with it! I’m told I have a brave little heart, that word “brave” has been used a couple of times to describe me this last twelve months, I thought it an odd word … am still sitting with it and thinking on it.
This whole cancer thing, it is a chance to change, I read that or heard it somewhere. So if you are going to change because you got “The Cancer” you will need to sit quietly for awhile and look at your life, you will need to reflect on who you are, what needs changing, what direction you want to take this new you. Well that is as scary as all fuck for someone who has never really reflected on her actual life. Give me anything to do with my work and I am reflective, I work on improvement, give me anything to do with my actual life and I bumble along. Nothing wrong with the bumble, it gets you places. But now I kind of feel obliged to reflect, set a plan, make some goals and change a few things around.
Where to start? Move, move, move, remember that 40% stat and say it over and over and over. This is my chance, it might be my only chance, and you actually don’t have a right to waste it! I got cross the other day that I am not changing enough; I am falling back into old ways. My glorious niece was chatting to my trainer (also her trainer now) and she is worried about me … I can’t have that, I won’t be the cause of worry for her. So … what exactly are you going to do then?
The Cancer has shown me that what matters in life is and always has been love, connection and support, they are in fact the things I need in my life, they are my needs as it turns out. It took a conversation with a psychologist to work that out, in fact I just chattered away and she summed it up at the end, was an interesting revelation.
The Cancer showed me that I need to think of things apart from work … I need to think of them first and work not first. The things I need to think of are actually health and me. That whole work life balance that everyone always chatters on about, it is real for me now, health wins everything, it is all and everything that is required to keep you going in your life. Well except for the love, connection and support!
The Cancer showed me that people are kind and they want to help. It showed me that having a list of things they can do for you would mean you don’t have to think about it when they ask.
The Cancer showed me that fat-i-gue is an all encompassing, totally debilitating thing. The walking through custard feeling, that first Friday after the first chemo … I remember it so clearly, can feel my legs so heavy and slow now as I sit here writing. Was a totally odd feeling and it was at the exact time that they said it would happen.
The Cancer showed me that I should sleep more, my body has been through a little battle and I shouldn’t ignore that, I should feed it good things, move it a lot more and nourish it every day with enough sleep. It seems that I am not kind to my body; it hasn’t stuck in my head that this is the only one that I have and that I should look after it. It isn’t hard to look after, but I have managed to give it this sugar addiction that impacts in all sorts of ways.
The Cancer showed me that stress is an evil little thing that can eat at you. It showed me that your body knows best, even if you don’t think things are impacting you, your body defies your thoughts and screams “There is something wrong!” I’m not talking about ‘The Cancer” but the stress that is a constant part of my life.
The Cancer showed me that psychomalogicists might not be so bad after all.
The Cancer showed me that the kids at school are glorious, they sent me these get-well cards, and they made me smile. When I popped into school towards the end of my six months off, they squealed with delight when they saw me and gave me hugs.
The Cancer showed me that the people in my life have the ability to make me smile, all the time not matter what I am going through. They make me laugh at myself, at my situation, at life’s absurdities, they make me smile by saying ridiculous things, they make me smile by telling me that they love me.
The Cancer showed me how to deal with anxiety, that low level hiding What if …? kind of anxiety that sits in the corner where you don’t look. If you catch its eye you look away quickly, pushing it further into the corner … what if you didn’t look away, what if you spoke to it? At the moment that is just too frightening and I can’t …