Hello again, it’s been a while.
For anyone that read my 2017 Goals, you’ll know I started this year with the best intentions to make it an ‘absolute blinder’. I set myself a list of things I wanted to achieve and I decided that this was a year that was going to be filled with only good things.
If you’ve read my previous posts or follow me on social media, you’ll know it didn’t quite turn out that way – life had other plans.
It’s taken me so many attempts to write this post because I want it to have the right tone. I don’t want to sound mopey. I don’t want to sound melodramatic. I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for sympathy. It’s none of those things, but I feel it’s important for me to address what has been going on for the first 4 months of this year, because this blog is first and foremost a diary of my life and this was a major part of it.
So. I had Cancer. Melanoma to be exact. It was caught early and with two small procedures to remove the part of my leg that was affected, I’m now all clear.
Since the last operation I’ve had 2 further check ups with my consultant, and a full body scan which will be repeated annually to make sure it doesn’t pop up anywhere else. The consultant has flagged 4 more areas he wants to keep an eye on specifically as he feels they could have the potential to become Cancer further down the line, although he doesn’t feel they are at the moment.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I cried once about my diagnosis, then didn’t shed a single tear more as I told myself not to. I have this terrible way of dealing with heartache by closing down my emotions to the point I no longer feel anything. I’ll be laughing and joking on the outside, but inside it’s a different story.
After I had the op and rested (6 days rather than the 3 weeks I should have had as I couldn’t afford to lose any more wages) I went back to work, back down the pub with friends, back out and about; all those things that make up general life. But, something inside me was different, I was treading water and my head was barely above the surface. I felt like I was trapped inside a bubble and everything was grey, I had no feelings – positive or negative – and I felt like I was even losing the ability to love; it was like something in me had disappeared.
However, I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I felt like I didn’t have the right to be sad. Everyone kept telling me how lucky I was to have caught it so early and be able to get rid of it. They told me I was lucky it was “the good kind of Cancer”. They kept saying I was lucky it hadn’t affected my general or mental health. I knew all of this and I 100% agreed – I am SO incredibly lucky with how it all turned out, but the fact it was “the good kind of Cancer” didn’t stop the hurt, and my mental health looked good from the outside, but inside I was falling apart.
I’ve tried really hard to find the words to explain but it’s been near on impossible. The best I can come up with is that I had an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt that I was getting off lightly when I know other people who have been or still are going through gruelling Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy. Guilt that I was hurting inside when I had “the good kind of Cancer’. I felt, and still do feel, that I have no right to be sad about what happened because I got such a good deal out of it. From the GP telling me I had an urgent case to me having my second op that ensured I was disease-free was exactly 1-month. I know I’m lucky, I really do.
Throughout the whole process I had such incredible support from so many people. Weirdly, some of the people I thought would be there for me were nowhere to be seen, and others who I wouldn’t have expected were texting me, asking to see me and sending me surprise gifts in the post. Throughout the whole experience I felt such a sense of love from those around me that I think that’s what carried me through. Small gestures that gave me a little kickstart on those days where I felt like everything was black.
So here I am, 2.5 months after my last operation. Generally I’m doing well – my leg is still a little sore and it gets tired towards the end of the day if I’ve been doing lots of walking; the scar I’ve been left with is very neat though and testament to the treatment I received from BUPA. In terms of my mental health I am doing a lot better – I have feelings again for a start! I’ve spent 2 weekends away from home with my best friend, Sian, and that has been really good for the soul. A big part of the past few months has been me feeling like I want to run away; I felt the need to be by the sea, or in the countryside – anywhere that wasn’t where I live and was surrounded by nature – so to get away and spend time with someone who knows me inside out was definitely a strong medicine.
I still haven’t really cried. I don’t feel like I can. I have tears in my eyes typing this, but I feel like I don’t have the right to cry as what I’ve been through is so minor. As I said, I know people battling Cancer and going through gruelling treatment, so I feel like a fraud.
I’m not looking for sympathy or well wishes or anything else of that kind with this post, but I wanted to write down how I feel as a record for the future (as I’m sure this will be something I’ll look back on in years to come). Writing is also my own personal form of therapy. Words have always been where I find my solace.
So the long and short of it is this I guess – 2017 has had a rocky start and I’m still not completely out of the woods when it comes to the inside of my head, but I’m definitely getting there. The numbness in my heart and my mind is fading and I have so many exciting plans for the rest of the year that I’m still determined to make it one to remember – for all the right reasons though!
So my goals for 2017 now are, basically, to live my best life. I want to make the most of it and fill it with happiness – I want to revamp my garden, I want to visit more places, I want to write more, I want to have fun. This whole Cancer thing (although “the good kind of Cancer”) was a massive reminder of my own mortality and that none of us are here for a long time, so we need to make sure we’re here for a good time! If I had ignored the niggle in the back of my head for another month, the Cancer would have been at a later stage and I could well be writing a very different post right now.
I never want to take my life or the people in it for granted again, I want to have adventures, laugh a lot, love hard and take chances. I want to create a life for myself that, when I’m old and grey, I can look back on with a smile and think, “Yep, I did good!”
I might have had Cancer, but Cancer never had me.