As July 2015 approached it prompted a mix of emotions – immense gratitude that I’m here one year on from my diagnosis, a realisation that I have come through so much physically and emotionally in the last 12 months and relief that the treatment is seemingly going well; alongside frustration and resentment around how the illness has dominated the past year. I don’t regard my ‘cancerversary’ as a time for celebration as such, but it does mark a key milestone and hopefully allows me to put what has been a largely surreal year into perspective. There’s no defined meaning of a ‘cancerversary’, other than it marks a key milestone passing when affected by cancer – be that from unsuspecting symptoms, hospital admission, diagnosis, cancer staging/ treatment plan defined, surgery, chemotherapy starting/ concluding. I dwell on what I’ve got to show for the past 12 months and think of this journal – a memoir of my journey, the reward of volunteering, hopefully being a better parent/ wife/ friend and being more in control of how I live my life. Most of all I have to remember the treatment and those overseeing it have blessed me with the fortune of leading a relatively active life.
As part of my desire to share my experiences to benefit others affected by cancer, I have been liaising with a number of cancer charities. When questioning me about my experience to compile a case study on my experience they would typically ask about the stage and grade of my cancer. This is something I never enquired about, from the outset I decided it was what it was and I was fearful that knowing the specific stage and grade would enable me to pinpoint the all too scary survival rates. One year on I decided there was no harm in me knowing. I felt emotionally strong enough to ask.
There are short bursts of time when I almost forget about my cancer (I’m talking no more than 1 – 2 waking hours), or at least it feels further back in my thoughts. My current focus is on looking after myself whilst I continue on my maintenance treatment (until December 2015) and doing everything I possibly can in the hope my tumour marker level remains constant. I can’t really think beyond this current phase of my treatment. If I get to the end of it (and the cancer remains managed), then facing the anxieties of life post treatment will be a welcome milestone.
I’ve no idea what the future holds for me, but does anyone? I know my cancer will play a big part of my life, hopefully in the background as I get on with my life and see my loving boys grow up.