Cancer was not on the cards. This was supposed to be our year.
We had finally found our forever home, the girls were happy at their new school, and I was loving my writing job. It seemed that we finally had it all. We could now sit back, put our feet up and say we did it. We would be able to look back over the previous two years and congratulate ourselves on how we got through the stress of house moves with the gazumping and gazundering. This was our time to enjoy. I finally felt settled and I was looking forward to the year ahead.
Then cancer showed up and with that the promise of an easy life vanished.
I’m a little pissed off. I was looking forward to training for a 10 km race, I was enjoying my job, I was enjoying writing my novel, and I was enjoying being a mum and a wife. I was ENJOYING life. But now my life has changed beyond recognition, I no longer recognise it. My life used to revolve around my family and work. Now, most of my life revolves around cancer, and it’s really bloody inconvenient. However, it’s not all bad, there are some positives too. Here are some of the ways my life has changed since being diagnosed with cancer.
I eat more cake
Before I was diagnosed with cancer I rarely ate cake. I was the annoying person who lectured the rest of the family on the dangers of sugar, how it’s more addictive than crack cocaine. I would try and eat as cleanly as possible. But look how that turned out. So now if I want cake, I will have my cake and I will eat it. Black Forest Gateaux is currently the cake/dessert of choice. I still lecture people about their wine and bacon consumption – “You know that’s cancer causing, right” and then I watch as they uncomfortably squirm, unsure of what to say in reply 😉
I’m not working
I was very proud of my writing job. It was the best of both worlds. It allowed me to work but I was still able to be there for the girls. However, with a brain that has been made fuzzy by the chemo drugs, I realised that I was going to be unable to keep up with the daily deadlines and, as a result, I’ve had to ask for time off work. Work have been incredibly supportive but it’s just another reminder of how cancer is robbing me. Plus, I was on a freelance contract, so when I’m not working, I’m not getting paid.
There is something about cancer that loosens the purse strings and makes me want to spend all of the money, which is a bit of a problem when I’m not working (see above). So far I’ve bought a terrarium (in my defence it was massively reduced and it would have been rude not to) and I filled it with all of the green plants. I then bought another green plant and informed the family that green plants are very good for us. This wouldn’t be a problem but I already have many, many green plants and I think Mr C is worried that I am trying to turn our house into a jungle.
I became obsessed with all of the smoothies and I was drinking at least two litres of fruit and green smoothies a day. Not a problem, but combine that with bowel cancer, and I was barely off the toilet. I’ve always made smoothies but I was making and buying them with a new obsessive fervour. Mr C made a stand when I started googling the Rolls Royce of smoothie makers – Vitamix.
However, he wasn’t quick enough to stop me from buying the Dyson curlers. Yep, almost all of my last wage went on the Dyson curlers. I became fixated with having nice hair; I wanted to look nice even if I felt like rubbish. If you ask me, the curlers were worth every penny, Mr C might think differently.
I’ve also bought new pjs and many, many pairs of cosy socks. I’m not classing that as an irrational purchase though as I practically live in my pjs and cosy socks.
It’s not just me that is benefiting from my purchases. The children sense that I am weaker and they have been delighted when I have agreed to buy them all the magazines with attached tat.
I’ve given up coffee
Coffee was my vice. I used to have at least three cups a day. It ran through my veins and it was the one thing I couldn’t give up. Then cancer came along and I decided that coffee wouldn’t be helping matters. I haven’t had a cup of coffee for 8 weeks (not that I’m counting *cough*)
I get many, many emails on a daily basis from people asking me to add in follow links or articles to my blog. These type of emails are spammy. They often pretend to be my “biggest fan” before they ask me if I will add an article/link to my blog. I normally just ignore them but sometimes they will get really rude and demand that I send them a response. This is when I lose it and normally send the following.
Dear Joe Blogs,
Thank you for your email and your declarations of love for my blog. However, as my “biggest fan” you will be aware that I am dealing with bowel cancer at the moment which is a little bit shitty (poopy pun intended) and as such, I am not taking on any work, especially from people who pretend to read my blog just so they can get me to add a link for free.
Sometimes if they have been really, really rude, I just reply with
I HAVE BOWEL CANCER. F*CK OFF.
I’ve been on the telly!
I agreed to appear on the local news to talk about bowel cancer awareness month. I never thought I would be on the telly talking sh*t. Oldest was really proud of me and told me that I looked like a pop star, Youngest told me that she had a famous mummy and Mr C was proud of me for holding my own. I was just relieved that I didn’t fall off the chair or swear.
The cancer card
The cancer card can be very useful for when I want to get out of something. So far I’ve used it for housework, cooking and justifying the fact that we should go out for dinner. I’m wondering what else I could use it for 😉
However, the cancer card hasn’t helped when I’ve had to use the disabled toilet. There has been the odd occasion when I have had no choice but to use the disabled toilet. Let’s just say that the combination of bowel cancer and chemo drugs is not an ideal combination. When I need to go, I need to go. But cancer can be invisible and that has meant that I have been tutted when leaving a disabled toilet. There needs to be a cancer card that allows me to use disabled toilets free from judgment, or perhaps I just need to shout “I’ve got bowel cancer, all right? It was either that toilet or I sh*t all over the floor”.
I’ve Had To Accept Help
I’ve always been someone who is stubborn and I pride myself on being self-sufficient. Cancer is a whole other matter though and I’ve had to accept that I need help. Luckily, I have a very supportive family and my mum and dad have put their entire life on hold to help us. We have also be inundated with offers of help from friends. You find out who your friends really are. People offering to help with the girls and to bring food over. It’s made me realise just how kind people are. Then there are the people who check up on me, friends who send cards. There have also been the people I don’t know but who have reached out to me via social media. On the island there is an amazing photographer and she has offered to do a family photography shoot when we are ready, there is another lovely lady who has kindly offered to help me with my website. I’ve been blown away by the kindness of friends, family and strangers.
I don’t take anything for granted
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t quite leap out of bed, but I am thrilled to see a new day, I soak up every moment of feeling normalish, I appreciate my family and my life. I don’t take anything for granted.
My marriage is stronger
When I was first diagnosed I was worried about whether our marriage would survive. We went through a really tough patch. Yet, now a month later and it feels like our marriage is stronger than ever. Give it another month and I might be questioning it again 😉 . This cancer has taught us that we need to be really honest with each other and that we need to support each other. That’s what we are now doing. Plus, if Mr C tries to put the football before me, I pull the cancer card.
I’m helping others
A really good thing that has come out of this mess, is that I’m using my voice to help others. I sometimes worry that I shouldn’t be sharing my journey so honestly on my Instagram and blog. But then I receive messages from people who are going through the same thing, or from relatives of people going through what I am going through, and it reminds me that my words can help others.
I nap more
I’ve never been so tired. I nap more. I fall asleep during movies. I need all of the sleep. However, I do have plans, I want to get exercising again because I think it will help combat the tiredness.
There you go, that’s just some of the ways my life has changed since being diagnosed with cancer. However, they aren’t all bad, there are also some positives.
There are always some positives, we just have to look for them.