It’s been over 6 months since I last wrote. I have been navigating the re-entry into ‘normal’ by returning to work. This has been harder than I thought. I had underestimated how physically tired I would be. My joints hurt and my legs were swollen by the end of each day. It has been a challenge but I have coped and I feel my enthusiasm returning.
I promised myself that I would not live in fear but I do live with it. I am watchful but not waiting and that is ok. What that means for me is that I check my breasts and pay close attention to changes in my body. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, difficulty catching breath, unexplained pains, weight changes and nausea. It’s ok to ask the question and I know that the answer doesn’t have to be cancer.
I recently had a colonoscopy which failed due to my twisty colon. The camera they inserted into my back passage could not steer through my colon due to its tortuous nature (yes I know…lucky me!) This was followed by a ‘virtual’ colonoscopy which was not quite as virtual as I had hoped for. I had these procedures because my brother had a bowel cancer diagnosis aged 38. In fact he completed his treatment the day I got my breast cancer diagnosis. It is very unusual to be diagnosed with bowel cancer so young and the doctors were looking to see if our separate cancers were linked in some way, perhaps genetically. But my bowels appear normal and so I don’t need to worry about that.
I am lucky in lots of ways. I was lucky not be carrying the breast cancer gene as that would have resulted in much more extreme life saving surgery. I am lucky to have two breasts and two nipples. I am lucky that the cancer hasn’t spread…if it hasn’t. I am lucky to have survived breast cancer…if I have. I don’t feel like a survivor yet although I suppose that is what I am. All that means to me is that I endured my treatment and consequently have a shot at being among the 70% who live rather than the 30% who die.
I am clear in my desire to be the former rather than the later and accept my total lack of control of the outcome. No amount of yoga and antioxidants is going to change the course of the cancer that I had or have. But I live well, I eat well, I exercise. I have been losing weight. The chemo & steroid weight gain was very unwelcome! I accept the responsibility for resolving the problem though.
I have a haircut now and even got a bit of colour applied. I am told how much it suits me. I can be churlish about this at times because I did not choose it but that feeling has passed over now.
My dog continues to be a source of uncomplicated joy. I practice gratitude. I love my husband, my children, my family and my friends. I see beauty and humour in all sorts of places and I am truly grateful for that.
Life is not easy, but it is good. I am as happy as I ever expected to be and importantly- alive!