After 10 months of hardcore blogging…silence. Not a sound from Cancer Cans for six long months!
Talk about leaving everyone hanging!
I’m not exactly sure why, after relying so heavily on my writing all year, that suddenly I fell off the blog train. I think perhaps I ran out of words.
Or maybe I was subconsciously trying to break away from the unbearably tight shackles of Cancerland that had held me in their grip for so long.
Perhaps my brain was worn out.
Maybe I just needed to break free for a while, and get busy living.
It’s most likely all of those things rolled into one.
What I didn’t mean to do, was keep you all guessing – even worrying – about how I was travelling. But to those of you who have sent tentative messages through the interwebs to see if I was still ok, if I was well, and (let’s face it) ALIVE…apologies, and thank you. I guess I assumed most of my blog followers knew me in real life too, probably follow me on Facey and see me out on the town sporting my big hair and new set of straggly eyebrows!
I actually haven’t written a thing about Cancer since my last post in October last year! Not a thing. I tried a bit, and the stuff just wouldn’t come. It was like somehow I’d lost my blogging mojo. I’d run out of words.
But, the other day I finished my last round of Herceptin/Perjeta – my last cycle of active systemic treatment in the chemo ward, and so it kinda feels like it’s time to update everyone again.
I know when I was first diagnosed, in December 2014, I read other breast cancer patients’ personal blogs voraciously. Night and day. I needed to know everything there ever was to know about what was happening to me, what I was in for, what others had experienced. Although it often terrified me, I needed to know. Knowing the possibilities, however scary, means you can’t be ever blindsided. Being blindsided by a Cancer diagnosis, especially when you’re young and feeling invincible, is the most horrific thing to experience. I had an unquenchable urge to equip myself with facts.
I think thats why I documented my experiences so zealously too. For myself obviously, but for others’ newly diagnosed as well. I feel that with shared experiences, however fraught, we gain a sense of connectedness and calm. Things aren’t so frightening when others’ truly understand your plight.
The problem with trawling Cancer blogs night and day is that so frequently they end abruptly. There is no closure, no ‘happily ever after’. All too often I would reach the last post of someone’s personal blog and be left wondering how they were doing now. Far worse were the times I’d reach the end to find an ‘in memorandum’ post from the blogger’s husband, thanking her followers for their love and support. It would stop me in my tracks and I would cry and cry for these women I barely knew, these beautiful, young women – mothers and sisters and daughters whose lives were cut short so cruelly by the disease I was battling too.
Yet I too have left everyone hanging! For all those readers who got to the final post last October and thought, “Well nice one, Cancer Cans…but what’s going on now?” This blog post is for you.
I made it through the other side. I got through the toughest, most physically and emotionally gruelling time of my life. You can too, whatever the struggle. One step forward, one hurdle at a time, each moment you are forced to dig deep and deal, you get further away from what is holding you back. You get a little stronger.
I went in to hospital yesterday for surgery to remove my arm port. I took the train on my own in the morning because Jay had to get the kids to school. As I was waiting to be admitted, I had a little laugh at how blasé I’ve become about all things medical. Who catches the train solo to arm surgery?! There’s no way I’d have done that before cancer!
The removal of my port is a big step for me. It was inserted into my arm at the beginning of treatment to lessen the trauma of chemo infusions on my peripheral veins. It signifies the end of invasive treatment, and start of rebuilding my health. Of course I immediately began to worry that perhaps the Cancer will return one day and I’ll need my port again, but thoughts like that are pretty morbid and unhelpful, so I do my best to ignore them!
Another big milestone that’s occurred for me is that I am back at work again. I am teaching two days a week and absolutely loving the heck out of it. I get to be just Kate again – actually 何老师 Hé Lǎoshī (my Mandarin teacher name) – and not ‘Kate with Cancer’. I get to forget about Cancer every time I walk into the classroom. I get to live completely and utterly in the moment with my students and see the wonderment in their eyes as they embark on the exciting journey of learning a new language. I get to be normal.
The end of treatment and the hail of new beginnings has brought a lot of joy. But alongside the joy, is a great deal of trepidation too. I am stepping out on my own now, away from the safety net of active treatment, and while I’m so glad to be free of hospital time, I’m scared about the possibility of metastasis down the road. It’s a tumultuous time for Cancer patients, the end of treatment: everyone passing on their hearty congratulations, the feelings of freedom, the sense of achievement, the bandying around of terms like ‘survivor’… I feel equal parts relief, joy and terror. I guess only time will gradually ease the turbulence, and perhaps the further away I get, the more I will relax.
Right now, I am just taking it day by day. I am relishing feeling better. I am trying to embrace my ridiculous afro in all its curly glory, and I am celebrating the here and now. If cancer has given me anything, it’s made me plan for now, rather than later. No more waiting, no more putting off stuff I want to do now, no more cruising through life in complacency.
I’m not sure where I’ll go from here on Cancer Cans. If the need arises, I will write. If not…you can catch me in another space!
Love to all. If my blog can teach anyone one thing, it’s that life can turn on a dime. Don’t put important things off for later. Don’t let people you love pass you by. Don’t waste days doing things you dislike.
LIVE and LOVE your life!
Here ends the sermon!