The past 24 hours have been like a roller coaster of emotions. Bittersweet. I’ve felt extreme sadness, and anger, and frustration, and helplessness. I’ve celebrated and felt joyous, and full of happiness and hope and gratitude. I’ve been dumbfounded, shocked, scared, and bewildered. And it’s all due to one thing - fucking cancer.
It takes away health, it takes lives, it breaks up families, it takes away hope. It leaves people broken and shattered as they attempt to pick themselves up and get on with living. It leaves you with the constant fear of a recurrence, of the other cancers you are at risk of due to the very treatment that was meant to save your life. But we all know this.
What is rarely focused on is what cancer can give you. It gives you an appreciation for the most important things in life. It gives you clarity, and the ability to weed out the stuff, or people, that aren’t necessary in your life. The nay sayers. The selfish. It gives you the freedom to no longer be bound by what others think, the courage to speak your mind. It brings you friendships, new and old, from people and places you’d least expect. It gives you the support of the wider cancer community. That moment you meet someone and knowingly nod or hold eye contact is one of the most powerful moments. You know that someone else gets it. The most important thing cancer gives you, however, is strength; strength of mind and spirit. These past 3 weeks I’ve witnessed the most powerful display of strength from a friend who was preparing her family for her passing. It was inspiring and a privilege to witness.
Today I lost that friend to breast cancer. A brave and beautiful lady who loved her family with all her heart. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by the love of her children, her husband and her mum. It wasn’t unexpected. I saw her late last week. I knew her fight was going to be over sooner rather than later. I’m at peace with her death. I’m not at peace with the cancer that stole a mum from her children. I don’t think I’ll ever be.
The second piece of news I had was that my Aunt has had a recurrence of her ovarian cancer. She’s stage 4, which is terminal. She was doing so well. She will fight on, because she loves her family and she doesn’t want to let cancer win. I know she will go out fighting, but she is also at peace with the fact she knows she won’t survive this long term. I’m not at peace with that. Maybe I’ll get there…?
And finally, the good news. I received confirmation I have achieved NEAD (No Evidence of active disease). Not quite the NED (No evidence of disease) I wanted, but it will do. I should be overjoyed. I should be hopeful that I’ll have a long life, free from cancer. I should be at peace with the fact I’ve beaten the beast. But I’m not. I’m trying. I will get there.
It’s been a rough 24 hours. I need time to make my peace.