Tit for tat
Today it is a whole year since I was told I had grade two invasive breast cancer.
Since hearing the words, “It’s not good news, I’m afraid.” I have been on the toughest journey of my entire life. I have experienced what it feels like to stay awake for as long as I possibly can because of not being sure that I’d ever wake up. I have been totally bald, all over (except for a small, extremely tenacious patch of hair beneath each knee) and have considerably more scars to show off now, should there ever be any sort of contest. I have had to inject myself in the stomach (!!), take steroids (brilliant for getting stuff done quickly, terrible for any sort of sleep) and take all sorts of other drugs at various times of the day (at one point I had seven different alarms going off to remind me which to take when).
After having had almost totally symmetrical but quite small boobs, I now have an extremely asymmetrical pair with a largish, pert (but rather obviously scarred) left breast and a now quite sad and slightly sulky looking right breast. My left arm is swollen with lymphoedema and although it is improving, I will probably have to wear some kind of compression sleeve every day, for the rest of my life. My hair is coming back thick, dark (not grey as I'd hoped so I could go blonde) and very very curly!
But the three main things I will take away from this last year are an immense gratitude and appreciation for the National Health Service, a true sense that I am loved by my family and friends and a new respect, which borders on awe for my own body.
Whatever has been thrown at it – chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and all the supplementary drugs and treatments in between… my body has bounced back (granted, it has sometimes been a bit of a slower bounce than I'd have liked) and I now feel as strong if not stronger than I was this time last year, pre-cancer diagnosis. In fact, three weeks ago I took part in the LDWA Red Rose 100 mile challenge walk. It was the fourth 100 mile challenge I've entered and completed and I finished in 42 hours and 55 minutes, beating my own previous personal best by four hours and 12 minutes. FOUR HOURS?!! (Next year... under forty?)
The human body is a truly amazing thing and I love mine, scars, sags, lumps, bumps and all.
This song sums it up for me (thank you Tim Minchin)