What cancer has taught me!
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Before my diagnosis I just plodded through life, looking back on the last 10 years actually scares me at how naive and unaware I was. I had experienced a lot of terrible stuff in my life prior to diagnosis but I was not prepared for this
Now my outlook on life has done a full 360 and in a weird way, I look at my diagnosis as a positive. Yes it has caused my appearance to change, alter my body in areas I never thought I would have to, challenge me emotionally and physically but fighting cancer and being a survivor has taught me a lot, certainly about myself. I want to share with you guys what I have learnt fighting the big C.
I would always think that I wouldn’t ever get cancer and being only 28 at the time of my diagnosis, I believed it was mostly the older generation who were effected. Now I am part of a bigger community with women who have suffered breast cancer in their early 20’s, has opened my eyes to just how common it is. Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care who your loved ones are, whether you are rich or poor and it certainly doesn’t care about your dreams.
There are so many charities and people out their willing to test themselves to help find a cure for all cancers which gives cancer fighters hope.
I must admit before I was diagnosed I was a bit of a fitness freak, I couldn’t go a day without working out or watching what I ate - an exception was Vodka.
Whilst I was going through chemotherapy my Macmillan nurse advised me on all the food to avoid and what was cancer fighting foods. I now incorporate what I did whilst having chemo into my daily routine. I will have smoothies with Kale and blueberries, I try very hard to watch my sugar intake - half a brew with one sugar, my work colleagues know the script!
There have been many studies into whether eating healthy can fight cancer on its own which some I believe and some I don’t but I knew my body and I listened to it.
I am so grateful that I have amazing friends and family who have supported me not just through my diagnosis but throughout my life.
Many are not this fortunate but what I did learn from diagnosis was the people who were willing to be there when I was admitted to hospital, came to visit me when I couldn’t move from the sofa, helped us with our daughter when I had no energy and just genuinely being there without even trying. In life people come and go, the memories you had with them, some great, some not so great but be thankful you had that time with them and move on.
It’s very important to have people in your life who want you to succeed, even if it’s without them.
Never give up
This should be applied to every troubling situation in your life. Many have kids that keep them going, in my case I had my daughter willing me to be better. Some will have the determination to not let anything stop them achieving their greatest and wildest dreams but when faced with cancer, you are not really in control. You have to think positively and believe you are in control otherwise you won’t get through the day.
My motto through my treatment was - be positive even when you look like an egg or your head is in the toilet.
Being positive was the one thing that helped me never give up.
Tragedy doesn’t define you
I have never let the death of my parents, my sister or cancer define me as a person. I want people to see that even with tough times you can come out the end ok - I am not normal but I am ok so that’s good enough for me.
Cancer is only a chapter, it’s not the full story, so once you have written that chapter, put the book down and let them pages influence your life to be the best version of you!
Respect for professionals
We all know doctors, surgeons and health professionals to be very intelligent and mostly caring.
I have so much admiration for Oncologists - my oncologist saved my life with the treatment plan she put in place for my chemo, it was more of a trial concoction but I trusted her whole heartedly and it worked. Surgeons - the outcome of my surgery was brilliant, hardly any pain, yes I have scars for days but they show the journey I have been on.
Chemo nurses- these women always try to make the hours you are in the chair bearable and they are very sympathetic to your situation. Macmillan - I had amazing support from my nurse, and to this day she is still apart of my recovery.
Life is precious
This should not be something you learn, it should always be installed in us but we take life for granted. It’s easy to do but when I was told I had cancer, the things I thought about wouldn’t normally be at the forefront of my mind but cancer changes this. I wondered whether I would ever feel rain on my face again, see snow, kiss my daughter and husband again, I often wondered how my daughter would cope without me being there to tuck her in at night. Little things should always matter as the little things may be big things to someone else.
In life I see three things as inevitable, taxes, change and death.
Death was on my mind a lot whilst having chemo because you do get low days. It will happen to all of us, so embrace every day as if it’s your last!
Be your own kind of beautiful
This can be taken many ways, could be appearance, personality or just how you see the world. I wanted to show people you can be positive even when your facing death head on. To me, being positive is a beautiful quality to have, it can help influence others to change the way they see the world and certainly how they see their peers.
It might sound strange but I don’t regret having breast cancer because it has only strengthened me as a person, made me more aware and strive for the things I want to accomplish. It wasn’t something I would choose to have and would never certainly wish it upon anyone but I am a better person for facing and surviving it.
The change I have mostly embraced is my hair, I had no choice to have it shaved because chemo made sure I wouldn’t keep at least one strand - I did have peach fuzz though. My hair was down to my bum at one point and I am telling you now, I would never of had the balls to cut it short. Having to endure chemo that took my hair gave me no choice but be bald. Now I am free to style my hair how I want it without panicking what it would look like.
Just accept cancer chose you and you will never know why but my dad always had a saying and it still sticks to this day “being tested doesn’t build your character, it’s how you respond”.
I have accepted I had breast cancer but it doesn’t rule my everyday life. Something might trigger a memory from 2 years ago but I will never let it destroy me, I am too stubborn for that!