August 2, 2012 § 6 Comments
I know a few folk have asked, usually via Russell, what’s going on with me, and apologies for not updating this blog for sometime. Here are some thoughts.
Firstly, the end of July marked a year since I was diagnosed. I marked it by trying not to mark it. We were in lovely Tenby in South Wales, enjoying perhaps the only week of real sunshine we may see this summer. Lucky us. We played on the beach with the amazing Barnes family and I felt glad that it was this year and not last.
Two days ago, Russell reminded me that a year ago on that day we all cycled to the Design Museum. I remember that day as it was in front of the museum, by the side of the Thames, that I told Arthur about the cancer. He took it well, asked me if I would die, and we joked about, if I did, how he and his dad could eat takeaways every day and he’d probably never be nagged to clean his teeth or wear a bicycle helmet. I then ate a huge portion of macaroni cheese, the relief at having told him suddenly leaving me with a huge appetite.
So, that was all a year ago. I had my final chemo at the end of December, and then my double mastectomy with reconstruction in Feburary. Went back to work in April. Work folk have been lovely, very patient and caring, but letting me get on with things too. I couldn’t have asked for more.
I have hair again, which is not to be taken for granted. It’s odd and different, curly. Who knew? I did the Nightrider cycle ride in June (55 miles overnight round London). I see a gentlemen from Muddly Plimsoles for some outdoor training once a week and have started some yoga with the lovely Kate Walker. All text book keeping busy, I think you’ll agree.
I have check ups every few months. My oncologist tells me that “we have to find a way to help you get on with the rest of your life” which I take as reasonably optimistic. I am finding this bit something of a challenge though. I seem to have a bunch of ongoing aches and pains, which could be anything from being 46, to early menopause, to having had major surgery and chemo. Of course, it’s only too easy to slip into worrying that all this is something more, even when the doctor tells me otherwise. I suspect this is pretty much what every post-cancer patient goes through. I can’t read or watch anything about cancer or illness in general, just don’t want to put myself in the way of more things to worry about. My lovely friend, Fran, in the USA, who is going through exactly the same thing as me (awful coincidence) posted a reference to an article in the NY Times about, well, I’m not entirely sure what it was about as I couldn’t bring myself to read it. (However she also wrote a lovely post about us on her blog.)
I am seeing a CBT therapist to help me with some of this, which is proving hard work. Apparently, its not about getting rid of worry, which is impossible, but more learning to get some perspective, or, as she put it, “turning down the radio which is always going on in your head, otherwise that sound will prevent you from living well.” There’s lots of talk about “living well”, and separating thoughts and feelings. Not sure I quite get that yet. And values. What are the values that I want to drive my life? It feels a bit like I’m being asked to put together a mission statement for my own life, something that hasn’t seemed necessary before. Work hardish, be nice, never vote Tory. Is that enough?
It sounds a bit lame, but I’m trying to take inspiration from the Olympics, or more precisely from the athletes and particularly from those who don’t win. Years and years of work to just take part, often overcoming all kinds of rubbish to get where they are which is not, after all, being the best in the world. I’m not sure what all that means for me. It isn’t the same. I’m a middle aged, unfit woman, and they are not. But there’s something, and being inspired is always good, no matter how remote the real connection.
If its of any help, I finally got a surgeon to admit that anything surgical involving a knife is going to hurt for up to a year afterwards – and that’s normal. In his words (this was after a minor keyhole surgery) “well, basically I stabbed you with a knife, so its going to take a while to heal inside”.
Hi Gemma. Thanks for that and yes, it is helpful. Important to keep a longer term perspective. xx
As my neighbor and friend said of her post-chemo curly locks, “Check out my $40,000 perm!” As always your posts make me laugh, cry, and gain perspective.
Just found this post when I looked on a whim to see if there were any updates. It seems such a long haul with the year of diagnosis, treatment, surgery and initial recovery being just the start of it really. I totally agree with the other person who commented; it takes a long time to get over major surgery. The anesthesia alone will mess with you for months or even a year. I’ve seen it with Nick. And then one day he suddenly seemed recovered. Keep grabbing inspiration wherever you find it. A life mission statement seems rather alien to those of us not used to crafting such worthy documents but I think “Work hardish, be nice, never vote Tory.” is an excellent philosophy for us all. Keep at it.
Good to read this update and hear what’s been going on – and how you’ve been keeping busy. We’ve been thinking of you. Hope to see you soon. x
erudite and witty as usual, Anne. Just how I remember you.