Life after Cancer
Depression. Emptiness. Living in fear.
Since the day I was diagnosed, my life changed forever. Suddenly my whole world was tipped upside down. Everything I had, my whole life and the life of my family, was under threat.
Fear set in quickly. With the love and support of my family, friends and amazing medical team, fear turned to determination.
Six months on from that, I feel like a different person. I have more clarity, health and I’m making plans for the future. For a long time after my diagnosis, I wouldn’t have dared to plan for more than the following week.
That’s what the diagnosis felt like to me, like I might die on the spot. Like I might not make another week. Which I suppose is why they tell you to take it one day at a time. My word, that’s good and strong advice that I wouldn’t never utter lightly again. It’s hard to do sometimes but it does work.
On the flip side, every good appointment I had and every positive scan and test result that came back was amazing. It was like being given my life back to me as a great gift. So whilst I dreaded, and still dread, some of my medical appointments, I knew how wonderfully positive I would feel when the results came back as good.
Another chance. A bit more time.
But what about the depression, the emptiness and living in fear? Would that be forever? Would I live with fear forever?
I don’t know if I’ve been depressed but I think I have. What I mean is, I have certainly felt depressed many times but I have never been diagnosed.
The emptiness was something I was strongly warned about from my medical team. After months and months of daily, weekly and monthly appointments and all eyes on me, suddenly, I would be left alone.
My appointments are now just every six months.
This hasn’t concerned me too much. In fact I’ve used the time I had spent in hospitals before to plough into my business. It’s given me a focus, something to keep getting up for. As well as my beautiful family – which I think does go without saying.
But I Live with Fear
I’m absolutely petrified.
I’ve never been more scared of anything in my life.
I have visions of being told that the cancer has come back. I have visions of me writing the blog post to tell you that the cancer has come back. They don’t feel like premonitions. It’s my mind wandering I suppose.
I think about cancer every single day. It feels like every second of every day.
There are times when I almost forget but then bad news comes in. I hear of a new diagnosis, or a cancer has returned, or someone has passed away.
In 2016, Facebook was a bloody nightmare for me to be on. Everyone seemed to be joking about the spate of celebrity deaths. How tragic it was that so many greats were passing away in the same year. Wasn’t 2016 a horrible year.
Did you notice that the majority of those celebrities unfortunately died of cancer? It broke my heart for them and their families. It broke my heart too to see the way the press, and my friends, debated it. Insensitively at times.
Would I be joining the doomed 2016 list?
And it compounded my fear. Because when you have cancer, it’s everywhere. Even on Facebook.
Every time I walk into my doctor’s office, I remember sitting while I received my diagnosis and what went through my head.
Songs that come on the radio take me back to the dark days. I’ll probably always associate some of my favourite songs with those times.
It’s early days, I know. I know it will get easier.
In time, I expect that some of the fear will subside. I hope that as every six monthly appointment comes around and the news is good, I grow more and more positive.
For now, I can’t pick up and move on with my life in the way I want to. But I do know the fear is rational though. I’m not beating myself up about it.
So whilst I keep busy and positive and try to take my mind away from the fear, I won’t try and ignore it. I need to learn to live with fear. To live with it. Not to live in fear. It’s different.
The logical person in me knows that I have every right to be scared. But the optimistic me wants me to continue to live regardless of it and to try not to let it limit me.
So I accept that I will live with fear for a long time to come. But when the moment passes, I can get up and keep going.
For now, I’ll keep enjoying time with my family and I’ll keep busy with work because that’s working for me.
Thank you for reading this and for your continued support. It really does mean so much to me.
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Do you live with fear? How do you manage it?
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