I think the last time I checked in here was about 2 or 3 years ago but I was sitting here this evening and thought about my 9 year 'anniversary' which is on Friday. I see that my video is still on the site (Alison' Story) and I hope that for some of you it has been useful - and I can hardly believe how much life has moved on since then.
So - for those of you just taking your first steps to recovery and who are going through that period of feeling like like can never be 'normal' again I just wanted to drop in and let you know that it does! It took YEARS for me not to think about my cancer, not to worry about my cancer returning and not to constantly feel the impact of cancer on my body but now, all these years on I can honestly tell you that whilst I remember that I had cervical cancer (e.g. thinking about events of 9 years ago this evening), it rarely invades my thinking or feeling on a monthly or six monthly or nearly yearly basis. Yes - I have to take HRT but that really isn't problematic. I have been taking Premarin (oestrogen-only HRT) for the last 8 years (I had my ovaries removed a year after my radical hysterectomy). Yes - sex still hurts a bit, but we have worked around that pretty much and to be honest, that is something that hasn't really returned to 'normal' but I am no longer worried about it. However, those small things that I swore would never bother me again bother me! I do get caught up in silly every day things and life feels pretty normal.
However - I am alot more resilient than I used to be, I am alot more pro-active with my health than I was before cancer (i.e. I am a nightmare pushing patient who says what they want to happen and I usually get what I want - without being too horrid!!) and I do realise that life is too short to be spending time with people who make life unpleasant or difficult, it is too short to waste time and energy on pursuits that are not beneficial or enjoyable and life it too sort and too precious to put things off until tomorrow. I have done more since I had cancer than I had done before cancer, I have been able to sort out the things that are important to me from the things that are not and I feel that I have an inner strength that can beat anything and everything. I'm learning the cello, playing in an orchestra and have taken up kayaking! I have reasonably severe arthritis that affects my entire spine and pretty much all of my other joints for the majority of the year (it flares and then gets better - it is pretty good at the moment). Before cancer, this would have been the end of the world, being immobile and in pain would have put me into a deep depression - post-cancer it is annoying, and an inconvenience and I would rather my body worked properly but do you know what - it isn't the end of the world - it is what it is and I have learnt to cope with it and ensure that I try my best to make the most of my life how it is. This winter is likely to mean the need for a wheelchair at some point - honestly, it doesn't bother me, that wheelchair will mean that I don't miss out on things that I want to enjoy. Conquering cervical has done that for me. It has made me see the positives in the negatives and the hope for the future.
So - when I was at the stage that many of you are now and people told me that cancer would make me stronger I just thought - do you know what, that is bo**%%cks - I don't want to be stronger, I don't need to be stronger and I would rather not have cancer to make me stronger. Now - I guess it has, finally made me more able to differentiate the worthwhile from the worthless and it has made me take opportunites that I would have otherwise put off.
Love to all of you - it is a very hard time, it feels like an eternity but you will get through the other side one way or another and the person you were is not the person who you will be become but that person will value and love life more that your pre-cancer self.