I had the benefit of being introduced by my Macmillan nurse to a lady who had undergone treatment for ovarian cancer several years ago. She described how she felt cancer had ruled her life during the treatment period but as time passed she had gradually reclaimed her life, with the cancer still featuring as a significant part in her life but becoming less prominent. It remains early days for me. It does feel like I have regained some control over my life or maybe I’ve just got used to the treatment regime and the language which make it seem commonplace.
Throughout my treatment I’ve been paranoid about any twinge or pain I have felt, in fear that it was an indication the cancer had spread. I imagine those fears will haunt me for a long time to come. I find myself torn between willing time on to my next appointment to hopefully hear things are okay and now recognising time is precious and there to be savoured.
In a book I reviewed (‘Cancer survivorship coping tools’ by T.B. Winchester), the author describes her feelings of cancer as 'relentless, continuous, all-encompassing and overpowering' when conveying the magnitude of a cancer diagnosis, and I couldn’t think of a better way to put it myself. My diagnosis has caused me to question my instincts. I’m no longer sure I can take things at face value since I went for so long thinking things were fine health wise when clearly they weren’t.
For me, my diagnosis suddenly exposed the fragility of the family unit and triggered a multitude of thoughts of what would happen if I was not around. It prompted my husband and I to write wills; something we should have done a long time ago but never seemed to get around to it. It can never be easy forcing yourself to think through the scenario where your children have only one or neither parent in their lives, but going through that process when life seems all the more precarious is an emotional challenge. The vulnerability of the family unit (and probably the fact I now have more time on my hands than when I was at work) means I’m increasingly paranoid about my husband’s safety when out on his all too frequent bike rides and I feel compelled to check the Strava app (used to track athletic activity via GPS) to ensure he’s safely made it to the office.