Don’t get me wrong, of course I’m incredibly relieved that it’s all over. It’s just that the past six months have been all about the illness. There was a routine to my life, structured with appointments, chemo and hospital stays. Perhaps most importantly I had a clear goal – to beat cancer.
After such a terrifying diagnosis, there was something I could do to try to make it go away, something that gave me back a feeling of control. I was a mean cancer fighting machine. The process gave me a sense of purpose. It dominated my every waking moment.
Then, one day, it was all over. The treatment stopped. I got the official all clear, the perfect ten.
I know I’m extremely lucky to be cancer free. All I have to worry about these days is recovering from the ordeal and getting on with my life. But it’s not all over, not really.
First all, I’m still ridiculously shattered. Or to be more correct, I have fatigue. No amount of rest or sleep makes any difference. Even my bones feel exhausted. Yet I’m attempting to get my normality back and that’s only making me even more tired.
Slowly the chemo fog is lifting. My brain has all sorts of ideas of what I could do but my body usually says no, plump up the cushions and sit back down. I still have some medical appointments but I’m not nearly as busy being at hospital as I was.
It all means I have much more time to think and reflect on my illness.
When you’re told you have cancer it’s a shock but it’s also an emergency. Very quickly you focus on the treatment. It’s a brilliant way of channelling all that anger, upset and fear.
Now the chemo has finished, it seems like my emotions are catching up with me. The enormity of what I’ve been through is starting to hit home. I wasn’t expecting this big, delayed reaction as it didn’t happen to me before. But then it was much more serious this time.
My feelings that were squashed for so long have bubbled up and are now never far from the surface. I’ve cried more in the past couple of weeks than I have done in many months. One moment I’ll be thinking about the surgery or something awful connected with the cancer and then all of a sudden it’s hard to hold back the tears. Often though it’s stupid things that make me cry.
It’s not that I sit around weeping all day. Most of the time I’m actually quite happy. Just like the sickness, the extreme tiredness, the pain, the scars and the hair loss, I’m realising that the tears are another awful but normal side effect.
Anyway, afterwards I feel much better and I suppose that’s the whole point.