One thing that has played on my mind a lot recently, is hearing people say they won’t let cancer define them. I really can see why they say this, but for me I think it has to. It came in and changed my life and made me sit back and think about what is important to me.
The other day I found myself very quickly telling a colleague all about my cancer and then wondered if it bored people. Then I thought back to the day where the nurse said to me ‘sorry, its cancer’ and I cried at that word. Because that word IS scary. Cancer does kill people, but it can also be treated. Some people will live with it as a long term health condition… but for our society it is still a word we fear, and that is what I would like to see change.
5 years ago my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes age 21. From a normal life where he had just finished his degree at Liverpool University he had to adapt to a lifelong condition where he has to inject himself multiple times a day. I remember crying when he got that diagnosis and wondering what difference it would make to his life. I wanted to drive the 400 miles to give him a hug and look after him. My husband at that time just said OK, it was something that he would have to get used to. Not beating about the bush – I couldn’t accept that – I wanted to protect Olly. Now when I had my cancer diagnosis I was faced with a similar kind of situation and I was the one telling everyone it was no big deal.
18 months after diagnosis I’ve completed all the major treatments, and am on Hormone Therapy. I can’y help but worry about every ache and pain. I don’t get a headache anymore – I convince myself it’s brain cancer. The mid-life’ hip pain – my mind tells me that it’s cancer that’s gone to my bones. Even the lump on my little finger which my doctor confidently says is arthritis – I was sure it must be finger cancer… I googled it, so it must be true.
But there are so many positives. I really appreciate every call with family, every text to and from my kids. The pictures of them and their partners take me back to how carefree life was when I was that age. I find myself recalling memories from the past to them…just in case anything happens to me. I’ve even decided that for if I am ever lucky enough to have grandchildren that I want to be Nanna Nikki, and keep dropping that in, so if I’m not around when that time comes they will know what I would like to be called.
Cancer treatment became my life, and now with daily tablets and monthly injections the reminder is still there.
But I am a different person this side of diagnosis, I live for the moment and try not to worry too much about the future. I am stopping to think what I want from life, and how I want to spend my time, instead of drifting along. I am learning each day what is important to me, and my only goal is to make the most of everyday. I hope I am a happier, less stressed person for it.
My first blog, was Thankyou Cancer and I do keep thinking back to this. I’ve lost friends and family to cancer and it does not deserve any praise. I’ve seen the devastation it can cause. Too many people are still dying of this terrible disease. The ‘Cancer Club’ was not one that anyone would choose to be part of, but its given me the chance to meet some amazing people and also to learn so much about myself.
So yes, cancer has changed my life, and in doing that it defines me – its up to me to make it for the better…