Adjusting the Sails

It has been 7 days since my final chemo and the side effects have been manageable. Sleep is sporadic and the night sweats unpleasant. My legs and feet are achy but I am managing to take short walks. I feel ok.

I remind myself on a daily basis that this part of the cancer experience is over and that once I am clear of the 10 day low immunity that I will be moving forward and leaving this bit behind, hopefully forever.

I met with my oncologist yesterday and we discussed how things had been for me and I had questions about what I might expect in terms of follow-up care, mammograms, check-ups etc. It’s taken me 6 months to get to this point in the treatment, and I can expect to get seen again in 6 months time for various procedures.

I am content with these arrangements but perhaps in part for the less than optimistic view that I have that living after cancer could feel like waiting for a bus that you won’t see coming until it hits you. I am not pessimistic, on the basis of my statistics I should be fine, but I am also not a optimist, I don’t think that believing I will be fine will make any difference. It won’t make a difference to the cancer but even in terms of how I live my life I prefer realism.

The reality of my situation is that I have to cope with the uncertainty of my life. I have to accept that my diagnosis may be life limiting but that doesn’t mean I am living my life in a negative, pessimistic way.  My positivity does not spring from believing I will be ok. It comes from accepting things as they are, right now in this moment. That is my brand of positivity.

I don’t have confidence that my body will be ok but neither do I think it won’t be. I don’t know what will happen but I know I have to learn to handle that uncertainty and live my life without fear. As with so many things, it is beyond my control.

Therefore a period of adjustment is required to navigate away from this point. I need to improve my lifestyle. I need to manage stress better and look after my body better. I need to continue to get sufficient exercise and focus on giving my body the nutrition it needs. There must be yoga. That is non-negotiable.

I need to educate myself and my family about improving these factors. I will never know what caused my cancer but making these changes makes sense. It will do no harm and improve my sense of wellbeing.

I have done so many things out side of my comfort zone as a result of having cancer. There have been the physical aspects, the surgery and the treatment which has turned my breasts into public property with their own before and after shots. The treatment has had me talking about my bowel movements online and publically.

I chose to be very open in the local newspapers and on social media. I made a song up about the side effects of chemotherapy to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas! I have done a TV interview about the importance of checking your breasts for lumps. I have spoken on radio about the experience of


getting a diagnosis of cancer. I shared a letter to myself on MacMillan to highlight what I wish I had known in those early difficult days after diagnosis.

My approach has been to ‘Give sorrow words’, and that has worked for me. The next bit of this experience could be summed up by thinking about how I am going to live if I don’t die.

I haven’t always found life easy. I struggle at times but I have always felt that it was all worth the struggle. I am proud of how I have handled myself over the last 6 months and I have made a promise to myself to live my life and enjoy it as much as possible.

So moving forward and not getting stuck is the theme here. I imagine it is more difficult in reality than in theory but writing about each step in the process has helped me so much to turn that into practice.

I shared my refection about my final chemo on MacMillan today as I do feel I need closure on this episode which has defined my life over the last few months. It won’t define me forever but I can’t deny how overwhelming this experience has been and I don’t want too.

The next few weeks are about recovering before starting radiotherapy, and the thought of that is putting wind in my sails.




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