The day my fight began
I was diagnosed a year ago to this day. It’s crazy how much can happen in a year.
“You’re so brave. You’re so strong. You’re a warrior. Keep fighting. You did it. I’m so proud of you.”
These are all phrases that made me cringe inside each and every time I heard them. I didn’t identify with these phrases at all during treatment.
I didn’t actively fight cancer. I didn’t stay positive or keep going to work like so many do. I was so grateful that I didn’t have any children that depended on me. I knew I had the luxury of falling apart. So I did. I went to f***ing pieces.
I read about so many people who cried in the shower or after everyone went to bed. That wasn’t me. I spent hours staring at my blank bedroom wall. My partner would leave for work in the morning and I would lie there. Suddenly, 10 hours later, he was home again. Now that treatment is over, I ask myself all the time where did that time go. How did I achieve absolutely nothing in 6 months? Depression and anxiety took over and all I could do was wait till medicine did its thing.
Suddenly, treatment was finished. I was still alive. Not because I fought, but because the medicine/poisons did its job. I looked in the mirror and I no longer recognised myself. I was heavier, my long hair was gone, I didn’t even smell the same anymore. The resilience that was the core of my being had disappeared. Everything had changed and this is where I feel my fight started.
I’m now fighting for normality. I’m fighting to find the balance I once had. To be able to work, keep a home running, have a social life and keep up with the volunteer commits I had wanted to do. I’m fighting for my sex life back. I’m fighting for my dreams I had that went on hold to come true. I'm fighting to not be that cancer girl, but I'm also fighting to own my experience that has resulted in the person in have become
I had to prove to my company that I was ready to work again. They wanted to limit my tasks under the pretence of looking out for me, but really it was to mitigate any company responsibility if anything went wrong with my recovery. I wanted to be back to feel like I had some purpose again, but I had to fight for it.
Cancer made me impatient. I have so little patience for the dumb conversations, the politics, the silly things in life that when given a little perspective just don’t matter. I decided I was sick of waiting to move on to the next stages of my life. That was a hard thing to navigate with my partner who was a fan for waiting for the right moment. We had to fight to get back on the same page with each other. It didn’t occur to me that having successfully navigated treatment together we would also have to navigate recovery.
Recovery can be lonely. As much as people love and support you, they don’t really know what it’s like. When your partner comes home from a hellish work week and says he’s exhausted and you say you are too, he has no way to comprehend that your fatigue is most likely 3x as strong. When someone tells you they forget things all the time too, they don’t know that you might be writing everything down in a notebook cause it’s not just your phone you’re misplacing.
But it’s ok. The point is I’m fighting now. I’m starting to feel like me again and I'm grateful for that.