Cancer had thrown its cloak over me.
Everywhere I went I could feel it weighing me down. It covered me, it was suffocating me; trying to drown me. Yet, to look at me you wouldn’t have known that I was lugging this black cloak around. I was the only one who could see it when I looked in the mirror. I was the only one that could feel its sly touch, making my skin crawl.
Something had shifted and for the first time since my diagnosis, I was feeling really heavy. Tiredness overwhelmed me, yet I would wake up early, listening to the house around me sleep. I didn’t feel myself. I was feeling out of sorts. My mum and dad had returned home and now Mr C was off work with me and the girls. I should have been delighted. Yet, my parents’ departure just reminded me that everyone else – but me – got to escape this cancer. I was constantly anchored to my cancer and now I feared that it was dragging me down.
I didn’t like the sense of hopelessness that was starting to creep in. I knew that if I gave way to the negative thoughts they would soon overtake me. I did everything possible to keep them at bay, but there were constant reminders of how my life had changed. I spent Monday going from the radio station to a meeting with a journalist. I’m pleased that I can share my story and spread awareness, but by the end of Monday I am feeling fragile, broken even.
I’m amazed that no-one can see that I’m being dragged down by the cancer cloak. During the radio interview I can feel it pulling at my throat as I struggle to answer the questions without crying. I feel it strangling me, trying to stop my words forming. Later, during my interview with the newspaper journalist I am aware of the cloak tying me down, I sit straighter, trying to shake “it” off. I start to feel niggles of frustration. I want to be able to escape, but I can’t. I don’t like the negative feelings that are clouding my head. How I am starting to resent those around me. I start muttering to myself a new mantra “I’m lucky, I’m lucky”. Reminding myself that I could be in a far worse position. Yet, I’m still aware of the cloak, it’s billowing around me like a dark cloud, obscuring my vision and swallowing me up.
I feel like the cloak could steal me away and no one would even realise.
Tuesday, I wake up and I can still feel the cloak, it feels heavier now. I start to worry that it’s going to pull me down if I’m not careful. I focus on the positives. No stomach pain today, no sickness, pins and needles are okay, just tiredness, I can handle this. On the spur of the moment I decide to go running. I haven’t been running since my bowel cancer diagnosis, this is a big deal.
Taking Back Control
I come downstairs in my running kit to be greeted by raised eyebrows from Mr C “Is that sensible?” he asks, his voice full of concern. “I have to do something” I almost shout back. I think he can hear my desperation because he softens, “Just be careful then”. I assure him that I will. I decide that I will use the Couch to 5k and that I will start from the beginning. I select my songs to listen to. I go for rap, lots of angry rap, they match my mood. I lace up my shoes and I step outside,
I’m hit by the pins and needles in my hands, I pull down the sleeves of my hoodie. I’m not going to let it deter me. I start marching down our drive and out onto the country lanes. I’m aware of the cancer cloak billowing out behind me, but I try to ignore it. My feet are stamping the ground and my pins and needles are now in my legs too. I then hear the command from my running app. It’s time to run. I set off but I go too fast and the cloak catches on my throat, pulling me back. I feel a surge of sickness. My body is screaming at me to stop. I refuse. I carry on but at a slower pace.
I Am Rocky
I run down the lane, nearly skidding in some mud. It’s then time to walk and I slow down. I repeat the walk and run intervals. I imagine I’m some bad ass. I pretend that I am Rocky. I tell myself that I’m training for a marathon. I tell myself that I am running away from Phyllis. It gets easier. The pins and needles calm down. My back becomes straighter and I’m holding myself taller. I might be slow, and I might not be going very fast, but I’m running. I feel back in control. The cloak is no longer dragging me down.
I run down the long road in front of me and I feel like I can breathe again. In the distance I can see the sea and I feel my heart leap. I suddenly realise that I can’t feel the heavy cloak anymore. I’ve shrugged it off somewhere. I left the cloak behind. It’s gone. I no longer feel a sense of despair. I’m free again and I’m back in control. I punch the air, and in my head I’m shouting “Piss Off Phyllis”.
I run back home, feeling lighter. I feel like me again.
I will be attempting the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK at the end of May. If you would like to sponsor me you can do so on my fundraising page Thank you xxx