It seems like 5 minutes ago, yet also a lifetime ago that I started treatment for cancer in January of 2009.
I remember clearly the gamut of emotions I went through those first few months: the disbelief at the initial diagnosis: the fear when I was told that I would have to have an hysterectomy; then the terror of being told that this was not possible so I would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy; the panic, as a needle phobic, at the realisation of the number of needles I would have to face; the shock of being told I would need first one then a second blood transfusion; the dread of the further internal treatment; the disappointment that I would be the only person in living history who would go through chemo and NOT lose weight; the dis-belief that the treatment had worked and most vividly I remember the horror and revulsion I felt about the matching pink gingham with broderie anglaise trim nightdress and dressing gown my Mum chose for me to wear in hospital!! (Yes I am that shallow and ungrateful!).
But more than these negative emotions I remember kind and patient treatment by the majority of medical staff and hospital volunteers; feelings of wonder and humility at the strength of other patients facing a tougher journey than me and the support, humour, understanding and compassion from family, this forum, most friends and colleagues.
Last week I had my final check-up and have officially been discharged by the Oncology team as cancer free. The relief was huge.
Life before cancer is very different to life after, things change, people change, bodies change…only pink gingham remains the same! There is nothing positive about illness but since my diagnosis I have done several things that I have always wanted to do but never got around to before and maybe still wouldn’t have done (been on safari, visited Greenland, bought a pair of Jimmy Choos, visited Rome, eaten a truffle (fungi not chocolate), bought a dog and walked Hadrians Wall (not in the Jimmy Choos!) ). And there are still plenty of other things I want to do (go to Glastonbury Festival, have enough land to grow an apple tree, see an opera, visit the Giants Causeway, own a Zandra Rhodes dress (told you I was shallow)etc.) so I’m glad of the opportunity to stick around a bit longer.
This post is to thank the forum and its members for it's support and help over the years, to let you know that sometimes cancer can be cured, that 5 years can be the longest and also the shortest period of time and most importantly to advise you that if you are going into hospital not to let someone else choose your nightdress!
Goodluck everyone on your journeys.