2018 was entirely dominated by treatment for my Breast Cancer diagnosis delivered sensitively on the 03 Jan 18. It’s been a ride !!!!
The process, for me, involved a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and finally radiotherapy, so a good chunk of what there was to offer, just to make sure I had the full experience.
Mentally I had no expectations or pre conceived ideas how this would all pan out. My control was limited to my responses & reactions to the entire process. I opted to remain calm and just go with it, the focus being to complete the treatment and just get my life back, whatever that had changed to.
There was no option but to incorporate this diagnosis as the main feature of my life for the best part of a year, hate that fact with a vengeance made no difference to the fact, so i resigned myself to it and just went with it.
Chemotherapy. Now this is a different animal entirely. It not only kills the bad cells but also the good, so your left, effectively with nothing.
I went from an active, busy working mum to one that had to push herself just to complete basic household chores, usually limited to one chore per day, which would wipe me out during chemo.
In my heart of hearts I was clinging onto my old self and knew that I had been reduced to this ghost of a person, physically anyway. That really hurt & still does stick in my gut, but one thing that I retained and would not release, was the power of my mind and my role as a mother. I was determined, absolutely determined to remain myself, that which I always was to my core & mum to my son.
The same wasn’t felt for the wife role but hey ho, something has to give !!
Everyone knows the reputation Chemo has and what it does to a person, its all true!!! It led me to the inevitable by the beginning of the 3rd week of my 1st session my hair started falling out in clumps. It was irritating and painful & I desperately sought some control of the situation so I asked my hairdresser just to shave the whole thing off. Not only was I was fed up of finding hair all over the house, I figured it would of been more distressing to watch it fall out slowly rather than let it go all at once, for me, anyway.
My husbands first sight of my with a shaved head was devastating for him, it acted as confirmation that his wife was really not well, I think before then he lulled himself into a false sense of security that somehow I would feel and be affected too badly by the whole process. On seeing me every day the effects of this illness was staring straight at him, moving its way into our lives and trying for a permanent position.
My son, on the other hand, didn’t even look twice, shrugged his shoulders and said, you have to do what you have to. Proof that kids are far more flexible than us adults.
My cycle of Chemo was every 3 weeks, the first 2 weeks I would feel sick, quite literally, exhausted, I had to pull every ounce of energy just to fulfil my basic needs. The 3rd week I would feel a little human and then it would be time for another session. With each added session the side effects worsened. My oncologist, prescribed me the best medication she could to limit these but she couldn’t eradicate them. I lost about 5Kg in weight over the period, I had to lose weight anyway but this was a little drastic!! I couldn’t eat certain foods, traditional curries were out, anything spicy was a no no so I reverted to plain foods, mainly white bread toast & boiled eggs.
When your in the midst of feeling so damn ill you start thinking your’ll never be better again. During this time I desperately needed my family just to keep me sane. They did exactly that, the necessary. Close friends remained close, watchful and others just helped when it was needed. Ill be honest, I’ve been blown away by peoples kindness, it has been nothing short of extraordinary.
However the response has been varied, people react differently, some can swallow a loved one being sick , others just can’t. And then you have those that re-affirm their selfishness via their complete lack of care, thought regard. Oh yes, I had those in my pot as-well.
The old saying, when you get in deep your realise who your people are, never rang so true.
Radiotherapy was a walk in the park compared to chemo, the most difficult thing was travelling back and forth to hospital for an appointment that would usually last 10 minutes. 08 October 2018 was my last radiotherapy appointment. When I left the hospital I didn’t know whether to smile or cry, instead I just chose to take in the air and sit in my comfort.
The most heartwarming part of the process of radiotherapy particularly was the commitment and love shown by my husband. Ordinarily, he has a life, a busy life, working, colleagues, friends, family. All that stopped for the month I was in treatment, he stayed by my side for each session, driving me an hour there & back every day, then treating me to lunch every day after an appointment & remaining just there irrelevant of the world as it continued. Our lives literally stayed still over that period & it reminded me what a kind, gentle soul he is.
I promised after treatment never to waste a day again, never to waste my love, kindness, thoughts and care on things & people that just don’t make the cut. So I continue to invest in myself, be honest when asked and thankful for all that surrounds me.
Unlike prior to diagnosis each new day brings me possibilities i never dreamed, finally i am living life as opposed to dragging myself through it.
Yes a cancer diagnosis and treatment was a nightmare but one which saved me, made me reassess everything and make some active decisions as to how I wanted to truly live.
No point waiting for things to happen, my advise, grab opportunities with both hands and take complete control of where and with whom you just want to BE.