Cancer is perhaps one of the most dreaded and feared words, the real world Voldermort if you like. It instills fear into the hearts of many.
I had and still have trouble telling people I’ve had cancer, mainly for the reaction I know it will receive; shock, disbelief and dumbfound. I’ve seen people’s faces literally hit the floor when I first told them. Again I guess it’s something that you never expect to hear from a ‘healthy’ twenty something.
The hardest reaction to take was the pity, the last thing I wanted was to be treated as a ‘cancer patient’. I was never ‘ill’ in my eyes (apart from when I had surgery) I was still physically fine. I’m lucky the physical scars are hidden from everyday view and I didn’t need to go through the grueling ordeal of chemo, so wasn’t visiably sick.
The emotions and feelings can be wide-ranging and sometimes harder to deal with than the physical pain.
Feeling angry, why me?, there are so many bad people in the world why did I deserve to get this? How is it fair? It took me a while to come to terms and understand that there is not always a rhyme or reason in life, sometimes it’s just simply the cards you are dealt.
The fear can be overwhelming and it creeps up on you. “Will it come back”, “are they sure they really got it all”. These are compounded by the fact that I feel extremely lucky that all I needed were a few proedures. I even feel guilty sometimes that others have to endure a longer and harder battle and that maybe I’m too lucky and it will come back. Even with a 97% cure rate there’s always that chance niggling at the back of my mind.
Talking about it helps tremendously, I’ve never been very good at talking about my emotions. Sitting here writing this in the middle of a coffee shop awakens those exact feelings I have felt over the past few months and it’s hard. I don’t think they will ever leave me but I know sharing and helping others will help me better understand and manage them and will help others understand themselves better.
Living with cancer can be the loneliest experience, and at first I thought no one knew or would ever know how I was feeling or what I was going through.
But I wasn’t alone, throughout my treatment I visited various websites and read forums to check that what I was feeling and experiencing was normal. There are hundreds if not thousands of people dealing the same situations, and even though I didn’t reach out to anyone I was very comforted to read other stories. The sites I frequented the most were Jo’s Cervical Trust and Macmillan and were immensely helpful.
This whole situation has given me back my faith in humanity as silly as that sounds, people offering support and well wishes that I was not expecting. I wasn’t going to write a blog through fear of the reaction. After my first post last week the response was astounding, messages of good will and support from long lost friends and complete strangers.
The first time I heard the words “we have found cancer cells” a whirlwind of thoughts ran through my mind, but the very first was am I going to die? (the second being “no your not this fucker isn’t going to get me that easy”.) Facing your own mortality is terrifying and makes you realise how truly precious life is and what is important. The love and support that I recieved from my friends and family was the only thing keeping me from falling apart some days.
Cancer and death has often been closely associated, but in this day and age cancer and death do not go hand in hand. The huge developments in life saving treatment and early detection in any Cancer increases the likelihood of survival. I have heard far too many stories of people who have put of visiting the doctor with symptoms because they are embarrassed or scared of the outcome.
“More people are surviving cancer than are dying from cancer”. This quote from a cancer research advert was something I focused on throughout my treatment and I was determined that it was not going to beat me both physically or mentally.
Cancer has been a big part of my life this year and will be for years to come with checkups and follow ups, but it doesn’t define me.
1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime, but thanks to research more and more people are being cured and over half live for 10 years or more.
Today is Stand Up To Cancer which raises money to help fund vital research so that cancer can be beaten sooner and more lives are saved. If you would like to make a donation to help kick cancers ass sooner please follow this link; Standupnow.
Hopefully one day in the future the dreaded c-word, Cancer will no longer instil fear, but will be surrounded by optimism and hope that all sufferers will survive.
Thanks for taking the time to read.