So my first post isn’t going to be the originally intended post as I had some news the other day that I really must share. It also does that fantastic thing of closing one huge chapter of my life and opening a brand new one- rather fitting for a new blog I think!
When I was 11 I was diagnosed with Crohns Diease and for 8 years I was taking a minimum of 10 tablets a day. When I was 19 the medication stopped working and for the next 5 years I had to have 4 operations to remove infected parts of my bowel and take two years off sick in order to recuperate.
After the last operation they found pre-cancer cells and after another three months it had developed into Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
I was put on an intensive course of chemotherapy and over 1000 mg of morphine a day for over 9 months to keep the pain at bay. I lost far too much weight (dropped down to 6 stone) and lost all my hair- did mean I could stop worrying about shaving my legs however- not that it was a major concern at the time.
Due to the location of the cancer I was unable to sit and lie on my back for about 8 months and with the chemotherapy taking everything out of you, I was pretty much bed bound for the duration of that time.
Five years on and I can happily confirm that the treatment worked and not only that, after several years of getting my health and life back, of being jobless and unemployable, things are finally all fitting together. This year has been the year with a lot of positive changes- I am at full health, I’ve begun a fantastic new job with the NHS and am the proud owner of a truly wonderful, decent man..
Compared to my life five years ago my life right now is perfect and all I can see are the positives! Short of winning the lottery I couldn’t see how anything could make me any happier.
Unbeknown to me however, I went to my very last ever oncology appointment.
As per usual I’m sat waiting to be seen, surrounded by people dealing and coping with the different stages of cancer ranging from treatment to after-care.
One woman almost made me cry as she came back into the waiting room with a huge smile on her face saying “It’s gone”. I remember that realisation as if it were yesterday and my heart truly went out to her.
It’s not just the realisation that you are going to live but that you can get your life back, your hair, your appetite. You can get back to being YOU again.
Its shocking to think just how much of a person a life threatening illness and its treatment can take away from you, and its easier to understand why some people cease treatment. Living and surviving really are two completely opposite sides to the same coin. Being able to make your own choices, that simple expression of independence really does make all the difference.
It is amazing just how much perspective and humility going through that kind of trauma can give you. I get frustrated with myself sometimes as I forget and find myself being bothered by the silliest most insignificant of issues. I had hoped that the perspective of a life altering illness would stay with me 24 /7 but you realise that as ‘everyday life’ becomes normality once again, so you forget the bigger picture.
So anyway, back to me sat in Outpatients being humbled by the reminder of what I went through, what everyone in this lobby is going through and I finally get called in. For once it wasn’t one of my oncologists junior doctors, it was actually him. It was really good to see him again and we had a nice chat about how I was getting on and how life was etc and after having a check of all my lymph nodes he then announced that he never wanted to see me again… unless in a social aspect.
I believe my reaction at the time was to just sit there and blink while I waited for my brain to start working and catch up with the information it was being fed.
So that was it… I had finally reached the finish line.
No more repeat appointments.No more blood tests. No more being in “remission”. I was free.
It seems strange to be so affected by something that doesn’t change your current situation or state of health, but I was overwhelmed with the implications of this.
Cancer is no longer a cloud hanging over head- I’m free of the imminent threat of its re-occurrence.It is also the first time in over 20 years where I haven’t had repeat hospital appointments for something.
Illness may have been a major part of my life for the past two decades but as of last week it no longer has a place in my life.
This feels like the beginning of a whole new exciting chapter in my life.
Health, love, career… Life.
I am finally free to just be me again… and I really cant explain just how exciting and uplifting that feels!