Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Again. The first time was seven years ago when I was 28 and bizarrely I didn’t really think too much about it back then. Being so young and having no family history of the condition (at that time, things have since changed) meant it was quite a shock to get such news. I also found out I was expecting my first baby the week before I got the diagnosis, so it was a bittersweet and a complex situation. Overall I felt lucky that the cancer was caught early and, aside from a couple of surgeries and some radiotherapy, I could enjoy my pregnancy and maternity leave in a relatively normal way.
Once again I’m ‘lucky’ to have caught the cancer early but to say that this second diagnosis has been a shock would be a total understatement. So, while I continue to get my head around the horridness of the past few months and what lies ahead, I have decided to document snippets of my perspective as a way to order my feelings and thoughts. This post is a little intro to explain why I’m doing it as there are a few reasons…
- In part, I’m doing it selfishly for myself as I think it will be a helpful and therapeutic way of managing the volume of thoughts that race through my mind as I deal with the overall situation and each phase of it. I’ve started this series of blogs on ‘cancer and me’ a week after surgery (double mastectomy). It seems like the right time as I’m resting a lot and still full of emotions (just ask my poor husband who has been amazing, contending with my moods that shift without warning).
- I’m also doing it as a way to communicate with family and friends who want to know how I’m feeling. Again (for full-disclosure!) there’s a bit of self-interest here too as it means less repetition for me as people understandably ask similar questions! There is a tendency to answer with “I’m fine” when people ask how you are because it feels awkward to say “I feel like crap” and sometimes responding with an honest answer can open the floodgates (and, despite what my breast care nurse says, I do not look good when crying!). Sometimes I am fine, sometimes I’m doing well, but sometimes I’m not (see point 1 above about the shifting moods!). I’m thankful to have wonderful, caring people in my life who want to support me so this is my attempt to explain the ways cancer has affected me this time.
- The third reason is that I’m hoping others might resonate with my take on things and find my tales helpful or interesting – perhaps something good can come out of this. I’ll be honest and candid (perhaps sometimes too much) but each account is based on my own personal experience of cancer in two different countries and under very different circumstances.