Imagine having to relive the same dream each night over and over without knowing the ending. Each time you get that little bit closer to finding out, then you wake up! This concept applies to many cancer survivors in their everyday life. We try our best to live our lives but there is the constant worry of reoccurrence and each day the mind will often cause us to visit the “what ifs” but until our fate is chosen, we will never know the outcome.
Some are lucky enough to live out the rest of their lives without reoccurrence/secondary cancer but the statistics show a lot more than we think will go on to have a metastasis (the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer). I am not going to lay out all the statistics because to be honest, they frighten me! You can, however, find them on many approved websites such as Macmillan or Breast Cancer Care.
A constant worry for me is that I will not see my daughter grow up or be a positive presence among my family and friends and just live my youngish years not developing too many greys and wrinkles along the way (one every 5 years will do). It’s a daily battle juggling my thoughts against my reality. Even when I get the all clear from the specialists, there is always the doubt.
I guess the battle is never really final for a cancer survivor. Yes treatment is over and we may have given cancer it’s eviction notice physically but it never truly leaves us emotionally. The “what if’s” will always creep in and cause an emotionally reckoning.
Check ups are a true example of this and especially the thought of scans. Scanxiety is real and especially for me, my anxiety peaks to the point where I have passed out and on one occasion I did wet myself but I can’t just blame the anxiety, it was the contrast.
When I used to get a cough or an ache, I used to always put it down to a cold or generally feeling unwell. Now my first thought process is “has my cancer returned?” Yes this thought process is extreme but when you have experienced what I have, nothing is too far fetched.
Even the drive into work can be slightly traumatic. You’re on your own, listening to the radio and a sad song is played. That’s it, I’m a mess! Just one tiny negative thought causes a domino effect and before you know it tears are streaming down your cheeks whilst pulling that ridiculous ugly crying face and singing along to James Arthur’s rewrite the stars.
I am mentally exhausted from the battle between my thoughts and my reality but life is too short. If cancer wants to challenge me again, at least I have gained experience with facing the bastard and if the time does ever come, I will have the tools mentally to stand face to face with it.