Blog 7 – The upside to cancer?
Blog 7 – The upside to cancer?
So, here I am 9 months from my initial cancer diagnosis. Currently in some weird limbo-land between finishing all the active treatment and waiting for all the re-tests to see if the dreaded C has gone. I’m not a fan of the “journey” which everyone seems to talk about in regards to a cancer diagnosis, but this year has been one heck of a ride! As I wait (not so patiently) I’m trying to focus on the upside of cancer. Might seem like an oxymoron but I can assure you there are some.
Legitimate use of a cleaner – I mean, let’s start with the most important one! Given the low immunity and the low energy I have been able fully justify having a cleaner weekly. As upsides go this one was priceless! Plus it makes me sooooo Dubai!
Gives people a reason to get in-touch – the support I’ve received off strangers, fellow netballers, old school friends, ex-colleagues and ex-students has been overwhelming. People that have taken time out of their busy lives to send me a message or a gift has meant the world to me. It has made me feel so very special. Without cancer we may never have crossed paths again or reconnected and for that I am truly grateful. Never underestimate the power of a kind word, and even if I haven’t responded, believe me when I say, you made my day, and kept me going!
Becoming even closer to my family and my (wildly inappropriate) friends – We all have good friends and family, but a cancer diagnosis means they become truly special people you couldn’t be without.
My mum, dad and sisters, who have been through the ringer with my diagnosis, have given up their lives for me, to be by my side. They have embraced my grumpy moments and pretended I’m an easy patient. Having lived abroad for the last 10 years, we don’t see each other every weekend or even every 6 months, but that hasn’t mattered and I think we all know each other a little bit better now.
Speaking of my family, I think its pretty fitting to mention how brilliant my dad is. Throughout his career he worked in cancer research and was part of the team that developed the drug Taxol. A drug which was prescribed as part of my treatment. I kind of feel like there’s some divine force in place here and need my dad to know how truly grateful I am for him and his colleagues, (plus its what kept me fed and clothed as a kid, so double winner!!)
As for friends, I have the best. The ones that have stuck around during this, when they absolutely didn’t have to, have proven themselves as a cracking bunch! I literally wouldn’t have survived without them. Not to mention how much I appreciate how wildly inappropriate they are! They mocked me through the bald phase, hoping it came back as a crazy perm, they make Pamela Anderson jokes, they didn’t hesitate to highlight my steroid chub (A LOT)…The list goes on. And whilst it may sound crass and mean to people outside the group, the reality is, this was our normal. If they hadn’t ever mentioned it then I’d have felt something was really wrong!
I’ve seen a change in perspective – Ok, cliché time!
"My perspective has changed since my cancer diagnosis”…but guess what, it’s a cliché because its true.
I was never really one to sweat the small stuff, even before my diagnosis. I’ve always been a believer in things happening for a reason and that things sort themselves out eventually (another 2 cracking clichés right there!). But now, more than ever, I make sure I focus on the things that make me happy. I’ve realised there is no value in waiting for tomorrow. Tomorrow could flip your world upside down.
If you want to do something, do it.
Don’t save that new outfit, wear it now.
Want a new car, go for it.
Got the chance to travel, take it.
Make the memories now.
I’ve learnt who I am – again, maybe a little cheesy, but I’ve learnt that I am strong, controlled, calm, practical and resilient (even if I do say so myself)! I’m proud of the person I have been over the 9 months, proud of the way I have handled the obstacles. I have channeled my inner Greek philosopher and believe wholeheartedly 'It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters'.
I also learnt that I’m rubbish at small talk so those poor hospital visitors really had to work hard to get me to engage (sorry – I will definitely work on this!!)
I get to use the cancer card – And this one’s a biggy!!
Anyone that has a cancer diagnosis suddenly becomes a card carrying member of the weirdest club around. A club we never wanted to be part of, but, as members, we get our fully paid up cancer card! Let me explain, the cancer card is basically a get-out-of-jail-free card that cancer patients and survivors are allowed to use whenever it suits them.
Here are some examples of times I’ve unashamedly used mine!
When I fancy a cuppa but can’t be bothered making it… “I could murder a brew but I’m so tired cause I’ve got cancer!” (friends run to kitchen to oblige!)
When I got to a restaurant in Dubai and they had booked me a table outside… “sorry do you think I could please sit inside, I have cancer”.
“I couldn’t possibly take the rubbish out/walk the dog/attend the function I don’t want to go to, I have cancer”
As members of this weird club, we don’t want pity, but pulling the cancer card is just a small way to have some control in our lives. It gives us the chance to get our own way when the rest of our world is upside down. I suppose it could look selfish, but as a member of the worst club there must be a tiny perk.
Plus, you can't argue with me…I have cancer!