Reflections on my 5 year cancerversary
So for those who are thinking by now.. enough with the cancerversary – we’ve heard it all ..this is the last word on the subject I promise. So please indulge me for just one more time.
It is today I class as officially my cancerversary. For today five years ago, the tumour was cut out of my body and my healing began. It’s a strange thing with cancer – you may be totally unaware that the tumour is growing inside you, as I was, and you carry on with your life, sometimes feeling perfectly ok. It can be the case that the cure is worse than the disease. I went into that hospital physically feeling ok in the morning, but by the end of the day, I had undergone major surgery, with all the attendant pain and discomfort that brings. I still had to face my chemo battle and many dark nights of the soul on my journey, but my journey would also take my life in new directions and down paths I never would have walked ordinarily.
Some friends have asked me if I am celebrating this milestone today and the answer is I am celebrating by doing the ordinary things – a walk, a coffee later with a friend, cooking dinner for my husband…for it was the ordinary things I longed to be able to do again when I was ill. It took cancer to teach me the beauty of such ordinary things.
I will also be quietly remembering those friends who haven’t made it. I am thinking particularly of my friend Jenny who passed away recently. Today I am acutely aware of that sense of survivor guilt which I have written of before. In a funny way, the “why me” questions I sometimes asked myself when first diagnosed with cancer, are now reversed. That “why me – why did I get cancer when others don’t” has been turned around to “why me – why do I get to survive when others don”t”. I ask myself the question if I have survived, what is the deeper meaning of my life after this experience? What helps me find meaning in all of this is a deep desire to give something back, to help others with a diagnosis of cancer. Life is a precious gift and today on my cancerversary, I recommit myself to it and to helping others on their cancer journey. My time to go will come around again, but for now, it is my time to live, so armed with the lessons I have learned from my cancer experience, I look to the future and pledge to make the best life I can for myself and those I care about and in the process to hopefully touch the lives of others with some of the compassion and love I have learned along the way.