Strange word that.  A negative-positive amalgamation of words.

A celebration? A time for reflection? A time to ignore? A ‘cancerversary’ date means different things to different people.

This past week, my God, my emotions have been off the scale!  From one end to the other.

14th November was my second cancerversary of the date I was diagnosed.  I seemed to be more outwardly emotional this year.

So THAT was nice for everyone around me!

Last year, I reflected in a Facebook post about it.  I’d not posted much throughout my treatment (see Social Media & Me) and didn’t mark the end of Radiotherapy on there.  But a year from diagnosis I felt it was the right time to write something.

It generated a lot of interest – I wrote quite an honest and frank account of how I’d found the year.  Writing it helped me, and I didn’t realise the effect it would have on those reading it either.  I had some lovely comments, and a couple of people shared it to their page.

It was at that point that talking, and writing about my Cancer experience was actually helping a lot.  I finally had that ‘light bulb’ moment, that – going forward – talking/writing could be the therapy I needed.

Claire Evans is feeling reflective.  14 November 2017

Long post alert. 14 November 2016 is a date etched on my mind. It’s hard to believe a year ago I was given the news I hoped I’d never have to hear. Cancer became the first thing I thought about in the morning, the last thing before bed, and every minute in between. Every advert on TV or radio made me want to throw something at it!

The more people I told, the more it became easier to talk about, quite matter of fact in the end. People near and far have offered support throughout – some because they cared, some because they were nosy – harsh maybe, but that’s reality. Did I take everyone’s offer up of that help? No – I didn’t – not because I was ungrateful, but because I needed as much normality as possible. It’s also hard to accept help sometimes – you just want to ‘carry on regardless’.

The problem of course is that the body can’t physically do that. It’s fair to say that after 2 operations, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 2 bouts of Sepsis, and 4 weeks of radiotherapy, my body has been through the mill. People asked me – so how are you? How are you feeling? What you’d like to say is:

I’ve had Steroid-face, weight gain, burning skin, numb bits, upset stomach, constipation, slimy mouth, no taste, rotten nails, scalp pain, weight gain, bone pain, nausea ?, runny nose, more weight gain, blurry eyes, blistered skin, injection bruising, hair loss, sunken veins, scar pain, tiredness (oh the tiredness!!), ? irritability (no difference there then), emotional ?, memory loss… did I mention weight gain?? ?

Instead you just say ‘oh you know, I’m Ok…’ because you think you sound like a right old whinger! Some days I wanted to bury myself away, and I did, as the hospital kept saying – ‘listen to your body. Rest when you need to rest’. Yeah Yeah I thought. But they’re so right.

I know it’s not been easy on everyone around me. Garry had to do everything, and the kids became more independent for sure. Looking back, Cancer puts the strain on all parts of your life and those you love. How you move forward is important, but we need those support networks around us to help do that. As well as family and friends, there are some amazing organisations which already help thousands of people and in Dorset especially, we are very lucky to have them so readily at hand. I’ve met and chatted to some lovely ladies this year going through the same as me, who understand exactly what it feels like to experience some of the above, and have offered their words of advice and reassurance.

It’s easy to sit at home alone and dwell, over-think, but it also makes you think about your life and how you live it. Has it changed me as a person? Possibly. Has it changed what I want to do in life? Maybe. I’m not going back-packing round Africa… But the changes cannot be made overnight.

If you’re still reading, well done (I can waffle with the best of them). So a year later and the ‘journey’ is slowing down. The constant white noise of Cancer has faded a little. What’s left is the aftermath of thoughts, questions and feelings which you have to deal with.

Has the treatment worked? What’s the chance of recurrence? There’s no magic scan or blood test for this and that’s hard to get your head around. The body is recovering albeit slowly, and I know this could take another year. Time and patience, they tell me is what I need.

I’ve read things online such as ‘You’ve been given a second chance at life… live life to the full every day… Don’t take each day for granted… Your Journey is nearing the end…I’m aiming to run my next marathon on….! Sometimes they’re motivational – sometimes not so much! Please don’t send me spam messages asking me to post a heart on my wall, or surround my page in pink, or to check myself because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness week/month – I am reminded every day when I look in the mirror.

But I’d like to thank everyone for their support this past year. You’ll see the odd post on here every now and again from me, but I’ll be taking a bit more of a back seat. If I miss some vital piece of information I’m sorry – just message me instead. I will try and remember to get back to you! ? xx

Here We Go Again…

Leading up to THE day for the second year, as I say above, I was an emotional wreck.

Why?!?  I should be happier that I’m another year on! I was of course, however I found myself reflecting on my life and what I want to do.  And, of course, these things still I want to do tomorrow.

All of them.  Now.  Post-haste. Get my drift??

So – my Facebook post THIS year was a little, well, shorter…

14 November at 08:49 · 

I’ll keep it short and sweet today (makes a change, I know…) 2 years ago today, my life changed. Words that put the fear of God in me. Life got worse. Lots of negatives. But it’s got better. And positives have come out of it. I’ve changed in lots of ways, and still working on some things, but I’m still here ? xxx

Yes THAT was it.

After crying constantly up to that day, I woke up feeling a bit – numb.  I went to work, spoke to a couple of friends, no tears, went home, no tears, did the whole Mum-Taxi thing and saw my daughter’s dance show, no tears. Went to bed. Phew! And that was that. Great. What a fuss about nothing…

The following morning, I had my annual Mammogram.  I was a little teary as the ‘Scanxiety’ had hit a few days before.  So tears I’d expected.

I had a long appointment discussing this past year (hence why it was a long appointment!) with my Breast Care Specialist, an examination, then the scan.  I also had an Ultrasound scan to get out a couple of lumps I’d found checked, which were normal scar tissue/glandular tissue.

Because I had a few concerns I’ve also had a blood test, and finally been booked in for a CT scan.  You don’t get those as standard of course, and hopefully they’re just to rule out things, so I can then categorically blame all the medication I’m on!!

After all that, I then went across the road to the Lymphoedema clinic to have my mutant arm looked at and a new compression sleeve fitted.

Mutant may be a bit of an exaggeration, but my left arm (the side I had the axillary node clearance and tumour removed) has decided to inflate by 16% compared to the right arm.  Of course to me it’s MASSIVE and it’s a shame I’ve missed Halloween really…. But actually you do have to look and compare to notice the difference.  Oh and it hasn’t inflated with AIR, it’s fluid.

But maybe that didn’t need clarifying.

Well!  How on earth I’m supposed to get this sleeve on, ON MY OWN??  My husband cannot leave the house in the morning without having the first battle of the day with me and that thing.

So that was this week really.  Onwards we go!! 

Next:  Acupuncture After Cancer Treatment