Well, here we are. It’s ten whole years since, on Wednesday 25 January 2012, I got that first cancer diagnosis at Ealing Hospital.
For someone who now struggles to remember what she had for lunch, the memories of that day (and the following weeks) are still frighteningly vivid.
The disbelief, the anger … the fear of just what might happen next; it never really leaves you.
I remember going to the pub on the Saturday following that diagnosis and sitting with my friends. It was surreal. I was so annoyed that this had happened! I just kept saying over and over “cancer can f*ck off!” … and then someone suggested that I keep a diary or blog and so, I did.
I’ll be honest, I rarely go back and read the breast cancer posts, I find it too uncomfortable. Not just the cancer bits but all the other stuff too; some things are best left very much in the past.
But I’m glad that I’ve had this outlet and that others, or so I’ve been told, have found it informative and helpful too.
I’d always planned to do something to mark the 10 years but the second womb cancer diagnosis last year somewhat changed my mind. I wasn’t sure there was an awful lot to celebrate.
However, my counsellor persuaded me otherwise. She reminded me that I was still 10 years without breast cancer and that I have been through and achieved a lot in this last year. That deserved some recognition.
So, I relented. It certainly wasn’t the big hurrah that I’d originally envisioned, but I’ve had (and will continue to have) some lovely low key catch-ups/celebrations to toast the fact that I’m simply still here.
Because that’s what most of us should do, right? Enjoy and celebrate each day for what it is: a blessing.
So 2022 is definitely looking much more positive. I’ve found the time off from work enormously beneficial. I tell people that I haven’t done much but again my counsellor (she’s very good!) puts me straight: “I think your idea of doing nothing and other people’s are a bit different, Kate!”
And I guess that’s true. While I have rested and watched A LOT of television, I’ve also been on several holidays, caught up with family and friends, done a qualification in digital marketing and performed in a play.
I’ve also sought help where I’ve needed it. Some of the permanent physical impacts of my hysterectomy I have found very hard. But I’ve taken advice from the specialist nurses and am trying to navigate a new normal while making those necessary adjustments.
So, the next step is for me to go back to work. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but put my faith in the fact that the right thing would present itself at the right time. And it did.
In just over a week (14th February), I start a 9-month maternity-cover contract with a global real estate investment firm. I’ve no doubt that I’ll find the return to work routine incredibly tiring at first - after 8 months of lazy mornings - but I’m excited to try something new and get my professional mojo running again.
Today is also WORLD CANCER DAY, which I think is a very positive note on which to end. I continue to count my considerable blessings every day and feel incredibly privileged that I’m still here and able to lead a relatively normal life. Not everyone is that fortunate.
So, stay thankful, stay healthy and stay happy … and here’s to another 10 years!