Wednesday 8 September 2021

That 'back to school' feeling ...

I know I’ve not posted for a while, but I wanted to share a few words in what has proved an unsettling week.

First and foremost, as my electronic calendar reminded me, this week should’ve been my nine years NED. (That’s ‘no evidence of disease’ for the uninitiated).

I can’t really articulate how I feel about this, other than feeling like I’d almost won a protracted game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ only to find myself sliding all the way back down to the start of the board …

Of course, the truth is I am still nine years ‘NED’ in terms of breast cancer but in an overall sense the counter has been reset: five months and counting …

This general sense of ill ease has also been heightened by the sad news this week of the passing of the singer, Sarah Harding, from advanced stage breast cancer aged 39.

Each year in the UK, just under 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer and 13% of those are aged under 45. On average just under 1 in 3 (30%) will receive a secondary diagnosis at some point.

So, as tragic as her story is, I’m glad that it’s put the issue of cancer in younger women back in the spotlight - even if, for those of us that have had a cancer diagnosis (of any type), the detailed coverage can leave us feeling quite raw.

I’ve also been struggling quite a bit from the long-term impacts of my recent surgeries. The sudden and immediate drop in oestrogen has played havoc with my joints and I’ve been left feeling like a little old lady. I also had a brief relapse in terms of my abdominal muscle strength. I hadn’t really appreciated how careful I now need to be and that I must live with these additional limitations. That’s been upsetting and hard.

Lastly, while it was an active choice on my part - and one I’m very glad I made - today I have finally entered the ranks of the unemployed.

For someone who has worked continuously for 25+ years, this is new territory for me. I’m grateful to have this time to get my life together but find I’m already fretting about what the future might hold and my preparedness for change.

All of which is pointless, I know. It doesn’t matter how much we plan, there could always be unexpected changes - good or bad - just around the corner.

So that’s been my, largely introspective, week. I have been trying to distract myself by getting out into the sunshine and have a very sociable weekend planned.

For the first time since before the pandemic, I have someone coming to stay. I can’t wait … but I’m not sure Phoebe-the-cat will be quite as thrilled to give up her room for a few days. She’s become quite the gobby-little-miss in the 18 months she’s had me to herself at home!

It’s been quite cathartic though, packing up the home office and clearing the decks. And the metaphor is not wasted on me: we all need to step away from the old to make room for the new.

I do hope that this break of routine will help me to start to think and live differently. This could be the first day of a new me.