I don’t know how to start this post. Y’know when something is so emotionally overwhelming that you don’t quite know how to coherently put it into words? That’s me right now. So, I guess I’ll just go ahead and say it – I’m now officially considered not to have Cancer anymore. I’m all clear. I’ve been discharged.
Despite my excitement for 2018 and my effort to look ahead with positivity, the first week of January was spent walking on eggshells, all too aware of my appointment with my Consultant on the 6th. I was publicly hopeful and blasé; privately absolutely terrified. At these visits to hospital I am checked from head to toe, every blemish, mole and freckle looked at with his expert eye to establish if there are any concerns.
Having got from February to August in 2017 without any issues before I was told I needed two removals elsewhere on my body, I didn’t dare hope that from August to January wouldn’t serve me up more of the same. But, at 9am on Saturday 6th January, standing in my underwear in the stark light of the hospital room, I was told it looks good; no areas of concern.
After quickly jumping back into my clothes I sat in the chair next to my Consultant’s desk.
“Any questions?” he asked.
“Ok. I’m happy. You’re all done…” and then he took my hand and said the seven words I know I will never forget:
“Now go and have a good life”
I thanked him and rushed down those hospital corridors, desperate to get to a space where I could be alone. I ran across the car park and into the car and instantly burst into tears. Real, fast-flowing, uncontrollable tears of joy and relief.
In my mind I had prepared myself to be told that it had happened again, the Cancer had reoccurred. I guess preparing for the worst, in my mind, meant I wouldn’t be getting a surprise. But there I was, sitting in the car, surprised, shocked, grateful, happy, relieved…
I text all of those people most important to me in the world to give them the update, peering at the screen through watery eyes, before I noticed a man in the car beside me, watching me with a look of concern on his face. I suppose he thought the tears were of heartache, so I offered a smile in the hope our silent, wordless conversation would explain to him that I was fine. I was actually, really, genuinely, officially fine.
Going forward I still need to be vigilant as skin cancer is an absolute bastard when it comes to reoccurrances. There’s no way to stop it if it feels like coming back to say hello, but there are processes and practices I can put into place to remain on top of the issue. From now on – and for the rest of my life – I’ll have annual full body scans, I have an app on my phone so I can track my skin at home myself every couple of months to pick up any changes that may occur, and there’s also more everyday things to do such as taking Vitamin D supplements as in the summer I’m only allowed to be in direct sunlight for 15 minutes a day (my forearms to be specific as they’re easy for me to see and notice any changes).
Honestly, I am over the moon. I can feel a physical change in me as well as a mental and emotional one. I don’t have to be scared. Vigilant? Yes. Prepared? Definitely. Scared? Not anymore.
Life has almost been on hold for the 1 year and 2 days since I was first told they believed I had Cancer. 1 year and 2 days of just getting by. But now I can relax, breathe and get on with life.
Before I sign off I want to take a moment to thank each and every person that has been there for me this past year. I’ve been less perky, less chatty, more insular. To the people that stood by me, messaged me, and allowed me to be less present when I needed to be – thank you from the bottom of my heart. These past 367 days have been truly eye-opening and I find myself now surrounded by the absolute best people.
I’ve got lots of adventures and plans for this year and I’m so excited for it. I said I was going to make 2018 a good year and this isn’t a bad start!