So with the ringing of the bell, maybe a cake, and a final zap and a buzz many women come to the end of their active breast cancer treatment with a last session of radiotherapy. They leave the hospital with a follow up date in the diary or two, a three month appointment and a simple ‘BYE.’
And then what?
A big black hole is what.
And what does that feel like? Empty, hollow, scary, you’ve won the battle, you are victorious but …
You are adrift is where you are.
During the treatment phase there is surgery, chemo, bloods, scans, enough radiotherapy to keep you going for a lifetime and you are busy. If you’re lucky you’ve also had a lot of support with feel good sessions, special groups, family and friends, the hospital staff and not to mention all the women you’ve met there.
In fact this has become your job but this one is different because it has enforced bed and rests built in, like ‘unofficial holidays’ you can spend the whole day on the sofa in your pyjamas watching daytime TV and eating whatever you feel like … you are allowed to do this, you can behave like a total slob. Utter luxury … if only you felt well enough to enjoy it!
A friend explained that ‘Everything was planned for me for 10 months,’ and she’s right, during that period you are not required to think for yourself, if you’re lucky you have loved ones and hospital staff at your beck and call and now? Well now you probably just feel frightened and alone in a vacum. You are meant to go home quietly, celebrate this close shave with the deadly C and not look back over your shoulder.
But at this moment although externally there may be a party thrown to mark the end of this journey internally this is just the beginning of another round of anxiety and waiting until the first three month check-up which confirms that, yes, you’re still clear and then the anxiety begins again until another check-up and once again the ‘all clear’ and so it goes.
The end of treatment comes with so many mixed emotions it’s often the point at which you crumble. During the active part, the busy part, the hard part you are rocks, bricks, amazing, warriors, amazons and everyone marvels at you and they ask themselves ‘Would I be as strong in the same situation?’
And then you are spat out and back into the real world but you are reborn as someone else so as well as having to deal with the physical changes you also have to try to work out who this new person is. Everyone around you has moved on and out of sympathy mode and back to normal life but you are not there yet and you may never be. You are being pulled out of the cancer cocoon and having to face a new reality as a person you and your loved ones may not recognise.
It’s an emotional roller coaster and you may have got off the ride but you are still suffering from vertigo. I have been to all of these places, have felt all of the things there are to feel. I am you …
But just STOP for a minute and turn all of the awfulness of its head and think for moment. Isn’t this the perfect moment to turn your dreams into reality? You’ve had a brush with death, is there a better time than this? What are you waiting for?
My sister made her childhood dream of owning a horse come true.
I opened a school – Vizyon, Kumluca – Turkey
Whether you are a cancer patient or
not doesn’t matter, which of your
dreams are you going to realize?
More tales of living it up from
THE POSITIVE REALIST