I wake up with a start. What’s that sound? It comes again, a deep ominous rumble. Thunder? It’s then that I realise what it is. It’s the sound of cracking. The sound that has been haunting my dreams.
It’s okay. It’s just a nightmare. But, then I look down and I realise I’m not awake. I’m still dreaming. I am stood on the edge of a lake that is completely iced over. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful landscape. Beyond the lake I can see snowcapped mountains rising up and glistening against the horizon of a crisp blue sky. Everything is still, until the sound of cracking rips through the air again.
I look around me trying to locate where the sound could be coming from. It’s then that I realise it’s coming from the lake. The ice is splintering and suddenly I notice there is someone stood stock still in the middle of an icy plain. She looks strangely familiar but I can’t place where I know her from. Her hair hangs down her back and she appears oblivious to the danger that she is in; she’s unaware of the ice fracturing. How can she not see what is going on? She stands so still, so quiet and she looks so small in the vast landscape.
I try to scream; I try to alert her but nothing comes out of my mouth. Not a sound escapes my frozen lips. All I can hear is
The sound getting louder panics me and I start jumping up and down in the snow trying to grab her attention but the snow muffles everything. She can’t hear me.
Finally, I manage to fling out a word. “RUUUUUUUUUN” erupts from my chest. It shoots out like a dagger across the lake and slams into the girl; propelling her round, her hair whipping to the side to reveal her face. It’s then that I know why the girl looks familiar.
It’s me. I’m looking at myself.
I gasp and stare in shock just as the ice gives way and I watch myself plunge beneath the ice into the black water below.
Living a nightmare
I wake up with a start. I fumble around for my phone and check the time. It’s 2am. I’ve just had the same usual dream that has been haunting me since I started cycle 5. I roll over and look at Mr C who is oblivious to my new nocturnal wakings. My heart is racing and I plead with myself to calm down – “It’s going to be okay, It’s going to be okay” But is it? Do I really think that it’s going to be okay?
I roll over and pull the duvet tight around me. This tussle with my emotions, this fear, only creeps in when night time has pulled its dark shroud over me. During the day it’s so much easier to stay positive. There is so much good to focus on. I do feel so unbelievably lucky. I am lucky and I tell myself this frequently. Mr C doesn’t agree when I reassure him that I’m lucky. “No, you’re not” he mutters sadly, “You shouldn’t be having to go through this”. Yet I know that it’s not how it works as so many people go through bowel cancer. Every 15 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is also the second biggest cancer killer in the UK and every year it claims more than 16,000 lives. So I am lucky because, for now, I am still here.
The Bowel Cancer Community
Being part of the bowel cancer community over on social media only confirms further how lucky I am. For a while it seemed that a valued member of the community was dying every week: amazing, inspirational, young people. People who were fit and healthy, having their lives brutally cut short. It’s a reminder to all of us navigating bowel cancer that we never know what waits around the corner and that’s why we have to try and find the good, we have to cling onto the positive. But, the fear is always just a whisper away. Will the same happen to me or will I continue to be lucky? Then there is the survivor guilt. Why am I doing okay when others fitter and healthier than me are dying? And, there is the worry. How will I know if I get poorly again?
It’s when night time has pulled its cover over me that I find myself trawling through my memories for what could have been the earliest sign of Phyllis. Was it three years ago when I first went to the doctors with my stomach cramps? Was she lurking when I was nearly admitted to hospital with flu? What about last year when I was unable to shake off a water infection and ended up telling the doctor how awful I had been feeling and pleading with her to make me feel better. Who knows how long Phyllis had been hiding deep in my bowel.
I know what that dream represents. It’s the fear of the unknown. The fear of navigating my future and worrying that my life is suddenly going to be ripped away from me again. Going through cancer makes you realise how fragile your life is, how quickly your life can shift into the unknown. I don’t want to find myself in an early icy grave. I want to be here for my family and I will do everything I can to ensure that is the case but the scary thing is that we just don’t know. What I do know is that I can’t live my life in fear. I don’t want to feel like I am tiptoeing through each day and breathing a huge sigh of relief when I make it through. I feel I have been given a second chance at life and I have to make the most of it. I need to grab that with both hands and run with it. I need to live my life: I need to enjoy it.
I don’t want to fall through that ice. I’m desperate for chemo to end but the thought of waiting and watching fills me with dread. The countdown to regular scans, blood tests and colonoscopies will be like my lifejacket but with them will come the rising anxiety, a constant reminder that my life will never be the same again.
I just need to learn how to navigate this new unfamiliar landscape.
I was very humbled to find out that I am a finalist in the Brilliance in Blogging awards in the ‘Inspire” category. You can read how I feel about this award here. If you would like to vote for me you can do so here – https://www.britmums.com/cast-your-vote-in-the-britmums-bibs-2019-awards-now/. You will find me in category 5. Just click the circle next to my blog and leave your email address and name.
Thank you xx