A letter to my cancer

Dear Cancer,

It was six months ago that we were reintroduced. I’d already got rid of you once and I can’t believe that you came back for more. This time I only had a fifty fifty chance of surviving. Like the flip of a coin. Well, heads I won.

After half a year of hell you are now just dust and dead cells.

You started out as ovarian cancer, if that wasn’t bad enough you took the liberty of spreading around my abdomen. It took a team of surgeons the length of an average day at the office to remove all visible traces of you. I imagine that the tumours have long since been incinerated. All that’s left is an awesome battle scar.

The next step was to kill off any lingering reminders of you. I had chemotherapy to destroy the teeny tiny cells that couldn’t be seen. On Wednesday I’m having the last of my six sessions

Like a coward you left me before the chemo had even finished. Repeated blood tests show that you are no more.

I’ve not just beaten you; I’ve proved just how much I want to live. My body hurt so badly when I woke up from the operation that I thought I was dying. I wasn’t.

But the drugs to deal with the pain almost killed me. They lulled me into a deep sleep. I quickly slipped into a happy bubble of unconsciousness and stopped breathing. I was only a few minutes away from my own death. But I fought back.

I wish I’d never met you. Okay maybe that’s only partly true. In many ways you’ve changed my life for the better. During the cancer treatment ten years ago I came up with a big list of things I wanted to do. Afterwards I went out and chased my dreams. The reality was even better than I dared to hope for.

So why did you come back? I thought we were done. I really didn’t need another reminder that life is precious.

When I was in the process of being diagnosed the second time round someone who should have known better suggested the cancer could be terminal. It wasn’t. She told me this devastating news over the phone. I was sitting on my bed on top of my pink stripy duvet at the time. As I cried my life didn’t flash in front of my eyes. Instead I saw images of my future, of what I was still to achieve.

I’m so angry that I’ve had to put almost everything on hold. Hey cancer – in a few hours I get my life back.

Over the past few months I’ve done everything I can to annihilate you. I’ve been having the maximum strength chemo cocktail. It’s been a marathon of pain, sickness and complete exhaustion but I haven’t considered asking for a lower dose.

Chemo has so many petulant demands. It wakes me up in the middle of the night. The poisonous chemicals make me run to the bathroom to throw up. I have no eyebrows now and only six eyelashes. I’ve watched my lovely hair fall out, there’s just a thin covering left to go. Then there have been the bugs, bacteria and infections. I never expected to have an emergency stay in hospital.

And yet, you haven’t managed to break my spirit. I’ve even been able to do some things which I thought were virtually impossible. Just days after my last chemo I managed to get to the Olympic Games. When the cancer treatment is over, I won’t collapse in a heap at the end. I’ll be flicking the V sign at you as I cross the finishing line.

Don’t worry, I won’t forget about you. How could I? There will be tests and scans every few months. When I go to hospital for the results I won’t be able to think about anything else. You’ll be constantly me on my mind.

However I refuse to be scared of what hasn’t happened. Because of you, I appreciate every moment. Well almost every moment. And so because of you I live.

I’ve now beaten you twice. TWICE. I want you to know that if you come back, I will beat you again.

Goodbye stupid cancer.


24 thoughts on “A letter to my cancer

  1. Yay! That’s the way to do it! I can see it running off with its tail between it’s legs scarpering for IT’S life! It won’t always be plain sailing but with that attitude Helen you can be the only winner! And remember all of us out here are standing with you.

  2. Helen you’ve written some absolutely extraordinary pieces in the last few months. Some of the best, most moving, inspiring writing I’ve ever read. What is so fantastic is to hear you defiance, your determination–and, of course, more than anything, that you have beaten it, again. Superb news. Hope to see you soon.

  3. You are so courageous and determined. I am in awe of you. You are wonderful to write a blow by blow battle with cancer. Good luck and “enjoy” your last chemo – enjoy putting to an end the last steps on your walk to a healthy life. Enjoy planning the next challenges to inspire you in the years ahead.
    Think James Bond and perhaps your blonde wig?? but remember no more toxic plastic bags filled with chilled drugs after tomorrow. I know that the next couple of weeks will still be dreadful, but you now know you can get thru’ anything…. and you will.
    Big Hug xx

  4. James Bond who? It’s Bond, Hellebelle Bond. Back on track, stronger then ever and nothing will stop her! Shall I start writing the script? x

    • Yes I like that!!! Hahaha brilliant I think you have a winner there. Yes please start that script now :) You can write it on your travels, you jetsetter you!

      Bond, Hellebelle Bond x

  5. Wow!! What a great piece of writing, love it! So, so positive, I had my last chemo in May, and now I have hair!!! (albeit rather short!) Your turn now x

  6. I am lost for words. Lost in admiration & respect. Sorry, not trying to embarrass you but bloody hell! I’m cheering you from the sidelines, I feel like one of the stewards at the Olympics, holding out water while you finish your marathon in style. I dare say you’ve had more than enough bad days, but they don’t matter. What matters is the good days & the blog days, when from somewhere you found the wherewithal to tell us all about it. Well, I’ve said it before and no matter how well-worn the imagery, you are a soldier, scars and all. Massively proud of you and everyone soldiering through cancer. They don’t all write blogs but you’ve done them a service as well as us, just putting your story out. Best of luck for tomorrow, I’ll raise a coffee mug to you. Ah, I’m going to shut up now and do a bit of air-punching.

  7. Thanks for cheering me on from the sidelines all the way along my marathon! I really apperciate your comments. Today is a blog day, an air punching day and day for fighting the bad guys one last time.

  8. Here I was feeling sorry for myself because the doctor told me a few days ago that I have an enlarged liver with complications. But I’m sure everyone knows why people get an enlarged liver!!!!
    After reading your ‘letter to my cancer’, I can stop feeling sorry for myself as I realise what you have gone through Helen. Not only are you a very brave woman but you know how to approach life in a very positive and determined way. I admire you so much. I know you will go on to do greater things in your life very soon. Remember I use to tell you that you were like Kate Adie,…..everywhere you went there was trouble. LOL. The BBC needs someone to sort out all the troubles around the world and YOU are just the person to do it.

  9. Wow, Helen! This letter brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears. I was so moved by all of your posts and this is a culmination. Words cannot express how much I admire you in every aspect. I’m sending you happy thoughts and hope your future plans incude seeing old friends. :)

    • Hey thanks so very much Una :) You’re very kind and I have really apperciated all your comments even if I haven’t always replied. They have always made me smile. I’m sure that my future plans will include coming over to see you! xxx

  10. Dear Helen

    Wow, you shoved it right back up the big C’s behind! You have some of the most moving and inspirational blogs and I only pray that you stay strong enough to keep it away. Good luck and look forward to seeing you back on TV. Natalie x

  11. This has been an inspiring and humbling blog to read, so firstly thank you for sharing. Secondly huge congratulations on seeing off this beast for a second time. Here’s to you, Helen!

  12. Helen, I have never met you in my life. But my friend Monica has introducted me to you through the power of Facebook and your blog. I felt compelled however to leave you a comment and say how humbling it is to read your courageous story – written with humour, poignancy and grit. If there was a gold medal for this I think you’d win it. I am so thrilled to hear you’re back on track. Stay well and enjoy your future!

  13. How can I not be inspired but such an amazing spirit :) You’re awesome and for that I too will flick the V sign at Cancer for taking my sister too soon. I’m running the Great South Run in her memory in October but I’ll put in some extra punch into my steps for you too!

  14. I have triple negative breast cancer. I beat it last October with surgery, radiation and 8 rounds of chemotherapy. I thought I won, but it came back again, now in my spine and my liver. I am due for chemo number 16 on Saturday. I want to be lucky like you. I want to beat it again. But there are black moments in my life when I doubt if I would make it. People call me strong. I am not. I just want my life to end not this way.

Comments are closed.