I don’t come here often now, but as today marks the 5th anniversary of my surgery I wanted to call by and say ‘hi! I’m still here!’
I remember when I was first diagnosed how comforting I found the posts of those people who came back to share their ‘survivor’ stories and made a promise to myself, that should I be one of the lucky ones – I would do the same.
I was diagnosed in May 2010 aged 47. I’d had a history of cervical abnormalities and always had my smears, which is how my cancer was found. The shock was profound as I’m sure many of you know.
I had a radical hysterectomy, ovaries and 16 pelvic lymph nodes removed at the [Name of Hospital removed] in Gateshead. Surgery was pretty straightforward and luckily no complications. As my tumour was quite large there was a chance I may need chemoradiation after surgery – but luckily this was not the case.
The emotional recovery was less straightforward and for the first year I just lived from check up to check up fearing it would/had come back. I was scared of every tiny symptom or health issue. My way of coping was to start to plan trips, visits, holidays – things to focus on and look forward to. For a while I didn’t dare to think I had a future, but planning things made me feel like I did. Planning things distracted me and that in itself was helpful
Physically I found myself wanting to take back some control of my body. I was very overweight at diagnosis and over the next year, I embarked on a weight loss and exercise programme and lost 7 stones in weight. I took up regular exercise and 5 years on I have maintained the weight loss and still regularly exercise. I was never good at this before – but focussing on making myself as fit and healthy as I could be really motivated me and allowed me to feel that I had some control over my body again.
Five years on I have now been retired from my job as a Community Nurse for 18 months. Having a life threatening illness can help with the process of making significant life decisions! I’d had 30 years of a job that was getting increasingly stressful and I decided enough was enough! Sometimes you have to put yourself first and we – as women – find that particularly difficult.
Jo’s was a lifeline to me at the beginning and I met some lovely people, some of whom are sadly no longer with us.
So to all of you ladies going through the process of diagnosis and treatment, I wish you all the very best and hope one day you are able to come back and share your stories. I hope mine might have helped someone today.
With much love