2018 was entirely dominated by treatment for my Breast Cancer diagnosis which came on the 03 Jan 18. It’s been a journey!!!!
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 prepared myself as though not to expect anything, remain calm and just go through with what I needed to do in order to complete the treatment and get my life back. I had no alternative but to make this diagnosis a part of my life, for at least a year, I now know that it did dominate my life in its entirety, although I hated that with a vengeance i just had to accept it and move forward.
Chemotherapy, I’ve been wracking my brain how best to describe it, the best comparison I can give is that it takes your entire physical being. It not only kills the bad cells but also the good, so your left, effectively with nothing.
Bearing in mind how active and busy I was before diagnosis, during Chemo, I had to push myself to complete basic household chores, limited to usually one chore, i.e clean my kitchen, that alone would wipe me out, grateful just to collapse on the sofa.
I just felt so frustrated that I had been reduced to this ghost of a person. That really hurt & still does stick in my gut, but one thing that i retained and would not release, was my role as a mother. I was determined, absolutely determined to remain mum to my son.
The same wasn’t felt for the wife role but hey ho, something has to give !!
I still wanted to be there for my son in the same way I had been before so, not once, did I miss him leaving for school in the mornings. Cancer wasn’t going to take that away from me in addition to everything else.
Everyone knows the reputation Chemo has and what it does to a person, its all true!!! By the beginning of the 3rd week of my 1st session my hair started falling out and I mean clumps at a time. In the end I asked my hairdresser just to shave the whole thing off, I was fed up of finding hair all over the house, it would of been more distressing to watch it fall out slowly rather than let it go all at once, for me, anyway.
My husband came home shocked on seeing me with a shaved head. I knew he was a little devastated, it was confirmation that his wife was really not well, I think before then he just tried to carry on as normal, now 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 you secretly felt were always purely selfish just to re-affirm that belief via their lack of action, thought or 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 about it was travelling back and forth to hospital for an appointment that would usually last 10 minutes. 08 October was my last radiotherapy appointment. When I left the hospital I didn’t know whether to smile or cry.
My most precious lesson from radiotherapy 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.
I realised how gloriously beautiful his soul truly is, with that he gave me strength and the will to keep going.
Last week i received the all clear from a recent mammogram so now I’m on the road to getting my life back. However, I decided throughout this process to de-clutter my life, a close friend of mine referred to it as doing your personal laundry. There’s something to be said of living simply, making choices that free you and allow you to enjoy time as opposed to dragging yourself through it.
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.
Now I jump out of bed excited with each day and what it will bring, even though this Cancer was a nightmare I truly believe, in some ways it saved me, made me wake up and realise my worth and the importance of truly living.
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.