I have had to really think long and hard about posting these next two episodes in this story of mine. 98% of me says I shouldn’t. That teeny 2% of me says that perhaps it will be useful to someone, somewhere. Apart from the odd occassion when I let slip to a friend or member of my family that all of this is not yet in the past, that it perhaps never will be, I like to give the appearance of being ‘so over it’. I like people to think that the last year was just a wee blip that is now a distant memory. I also hate to burden other people with my low moments. Today I had my zoladex injection and as a consequence I am feeling a bit low and so perhaps posting here is the last thing I should be doing. But one think I try to remind myself when dealing with strangers, is that you don’t always know what is going on behind the smile.
Yesterday, after a few weeks of miscommunication with the hospital after my one year mammogram and lost results, a missed appointment that I did not even know that I had and weeks of worrying, I eventually found out that I am one year in the clear! Great news and although I did not expect the news to be any different, it was still a huge relief and the chance to shed a weight that had unbeknownst to me been weighing on my shoulders for the past few weeks. There is such a mix of feelings that comes post-treatment and really, it is hard to put into words how this has impacted on how I feel about the past year but here goes ….
So… here we are. One year on, or thereabouts. More than a year since my diagnosis and surgery and I have managed to accidently-on-purpose dismiss any of the ‘one year anniversary’ dates surrounding this whole part of my life – until now. It is fair to say that the last few months I have spent so much time trying to get on with my life and move forward that on more than a few occassions I have had to remind myself that any of the story happened atall. Of course there are always the wee reminders that pull me up short – that horrendous monthly injection being one of them; the never-ending TV adverts* for cancer charities and that awful sadness that comes with hearing that yet another wonderful person has left this life too soon.
In general, it is easier to almost pretend that nothing has happened. There is really no way of explaining that, as well as I think I have coped with the last year, there are occassions when my mind plays tricks on me and drives me a bit loopy with its twists and turns. When, without warning I can find myself worrying about this or that ache and pain and the difficulty in sometimes accepting that there will always be a tiny part of me that worries the cancer might someday return. The suprising thing is that in a way this causes me to have the opposite reaction than the one you might expect. Indeed rather than panicking and trotting off down to my doctors surgery for every little niggle, I instead found myself suffering for months with an exptremely painful upper arm/shoulder before eventually admitting defeat and seeing my G.P about it. The fear of it being cancer was over-ridden by the fear of appearing over anxious and looking like I was worried it might be cancer. (The G.P diagnosed some ligament strain in my shoulder and arm incase you were worried!)
I keep telling myself that I don’t want to be one of those people who spends all their waking hours fearing a recurrance (if indeed there are any people who are that fearful) but I also (in secret) worry that I have built this up in my own mind so much that if there was ever any niggle that I was truly worried about, I would be too proud or stupid to actually seek advice for fear of looking as if I have become a cancer-hypochondriac. I am guessing that over time, this will all become easier, the worries will diminish and I will get to that place of knowing that just like for anyone, good things happen and bad things happen, you just can’t spend your life worrying about it. Nor should I be in denial that because I have had treatment for cancer it has given me some kind of super-resistance to a possible recurrance. I just hope to find some kind of balance where I can recognise niggles for what they are and go to the doctors when I feel the need. It will just take time.
So even after treatment and recovery, the process continues – that putting one foot infront of the other, living life, appreciating all that I have, not worrying about things I cannot control and making sure that the life that I am living is the very best it can be.
* I just wanted to explain this as I worry that I seem ungrateful. I have been helped and supported by some of these said charities and I am and will always be grateful for all that they do. They are an absolute god-send when faced with an uncertain future and a fearful present. I am equally grateful for all who donate to these charities and I of course realise that advertising is a necessary route to creating awareness and getting the word out. It is just that when you are feeling a bit low and you want to lose yourself and be distracted by a bit of mindless telly, the images of bereft relatives, sufferers and survivors of cancer which come every 10 to 15 minutes during the ad breaks can become quite upsetting. I don’t know what the answer is and of course I would not want these charities to change what they are doing – it is just hard to be reminded sometimes.