This morning I read a post by a very brave lady, evening, whose blog I have only just become privileged enough to read. Although I have known of her for some time through other blogs I read. She got me thinking about how Cancer has affected my life.
In some ways I think I am lucky. I am lucky that I had cancer. A strange sentiment I know. I am lucky because before I found out I had cancer I was just drifting through life without living. When I was told that I had cancer and what treatment was being proposed all I could think about was
I will have to take a few weeks off work!!
I wasn’t worried that I would die, I wasn’t worried about the treatment, I was worried about telling my boss I needed time off work. I had no intention of dying, I had 4 young sons who needed me. I had a husband who couldn’t manage without me, not that he had realised this before.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone goes through cancer treatment if they can prevent it. But as I did go through it and survived, I figured that I had been given a second chance to live. Once I had got my strength back which took months (I was actually off work for 9 months not a few weeks). I did the classic re evaluation of my life.
I began to think about the things I would like to do while I am still on this earth. I started off thinking about the big things but decided that it isn’t the big things that are important. I could do the grand gestures like freefalling from a plane or climbing mount Everest. But to me it was more important to appreciate the little things like enjoying my children. I got involved in a local soccer club that my boys belonged to. I didn’t want to be one of the parents who drop their children off but don’t see their achievements. I didn’t know how much longer I would have, I didn’t know if the cancer would come back. I wanted to make sure that what ever happened my boys could look back and say ‘my mum was there…..she saw the goals I scored/saved’.
So I got involved with the teams, I became the club fundraiser, then the club secretary, finally the club chairperson. I wanted not only to be there for my own children but to put something back into society, to give local children a chance to follow their dreams. I knew everyone of those boys and girls, I enjoyed being someone they could talk to. Someone they looked upto.
In other areas I wanted to appreciate nature, I tried to go for country walks but my children were not very co-operative. I love to hear bird song, the rustle of the breeze in the trees. I changed my route to work so that instead of driving along boring built up roads I drove along lanes and past the sea. I love to drive with the windows open so I can feel the breeze in my hair. I love the feel of rain in my face, (unless I am on my way to a posh event or a hot date).
Over the years people have told me that I am a strong woman, a survivor. To me that is a very strange thing to say. Why am I called a survivor? I don’t have any choice. What are my options? In all the problems in my life……..heart break, cancer, divorce etc I have been told I am a survivor. I just get on with what I have to do. How do you not survive. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pleasant but its life. I don’t know how not to survive. I get things wrong, I make a mess of my life, but I am still alive. I can choose to be miserable or I can choose to make the best of things. But in what way is that being a survivor? I can’t choose not to survive, it just happens. When I was going through the divorce and all the harassment/intimidation I was told how strong I was. Teachers, police officers everyone told me they admired how strong I was. What choice did I have, I had to keep everything together for my children. I didn’t feel strong, I felt weak, I wanted someone to hold me and make it better, but there was no one. So I just had to get on with it.
Now I feel as though I have come out the other end of it. I am still struggling but that is a financial struggle now. I have been happier in the last 18 months than in most of my life. I am getting back into working regularly, the boys are growing into intelligent and pleasant young men, on the whole my health is good although I have bad spells. I was given the all clear from cancer in September 2001. I have been having regular checks since then, only once a year now. I am on hormone treatment to prevent me getting cancer of the womb. I feel that my cancer has gone but it till affects me every day of my life. It isn’t something that I focus on and there are days weeks when I don’t think about it. It is a part of my history, part of the person I am today. It is not something I can take away.
I was talking to forest earlier this evening about my problems with having a very shallow cervix following my radiotherapy. Oxo is determined to rectify this problem. I was saying to forest that although a few months ago my lack of depth did bother me, now, I have learnt that it isn’t a problem, I know I can give and receive pleasure anyway. Which forest confirmed.
Now I have run out of steam so I shall shut up.