If you follow me on Instagram / Twitter or we’re friends on Facebook you will know that I go on about life after cancer quite a lot and how hard it can be trying to adjust but no-one can prep you for life after cancer. Sometimes I think it’s harder than going through the actual treatment and I would never have thought I’d say that. When your going through the treatment all you can think is I can’t wait until all this is over so I can get my life back, then once you’ve got the all clear your mind needs to catch up with everything you have just been through.
Emotionally it is VERY tough and you have to take each day as it comes, there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Everyone’s experience of surviving cancer will be slightly different, it all depends on the treatment you’ve had. Some people may expect you to be positive all the time and not complain because you’ve made it through treatment, especially when other people may have not but ultimately you can’t always stay positive.
Of course when I got the news I was in remission on the 30th June last year I was SO happy and relived but after it had sunk in I felt anxious, nervous and alone.. I had been told the news I was waiting for but now what? When you’ve been consistently seen by a health professional basically every week and then to be told “see you in 3 months” it’s very daunting.
You will never get back to “normal” after being diagnosed with cancer, it is a life changing experience and it’s made me realise life is too short to worry about the little things. Even though I am cancer free, I still suffer with side effects from treatment and although with time I hear it does get better your still left with them for the rest of your life.. which is not great. Before I was diagnosed I never used to get anxiety then it all changed, throughout treatment I was having horrible anxiety up to the point where I wasn’t sleeping, I just couldn’t relax. I felt like I was on edge all of the time. As well as the normal anxiety there was also scanxiety – the waiting for scan results. I remember being in hospital during my stem cell transplant and a couple of nights where I hardly slept I just kept pacing up and down my room, I couldn’t sit still, my heart was racing.. this was probably one of the scariest things for me to go through and I didn’t know how to stop it.
Thankfully since finishing treatment my anxiety has gotten a lot better but I still suffer with it everyday. Probably the worst thing for me to cope with is being told that my chance of having children is very unlikely about 1% exactly, which for someone my age is very upsetting to hear, every time I think about it I get tears in my eyes. It’s like I am stuck in the limbo of wether it’ll ever get better and happen and it sucks.. I could go on and on about this so I’m just going to stop now before I start crying.
“Those hard days will only make you STRONGER”
Cancer doesn’t just effect your body physically but it effects you emotionally and as family and friends will know that sometimes I may all of a sudden become angry or emotional. I try not to do too much as I know my body just can’t handle it anymore but then there does come times when I just crash and can sleep for 10 hours or more at night also I might have a nap during the day and at the age of 25 it’s very annoying as I should have so much energy and shouldn’t get tired so easily. I feel like a 60 year old not a 25 year old.
When I do go out maybe for a shopping day with friends and say I’m out for 7 hours it will take me 2/3 days to get over that one day.. It get’s VERY frustrating. My concentration level is so bad, I find it so hard to concentrate and I’m always asking people the same question over and over.. I have to write every little thing down or else I’ll forget, I usually blame everything on chemo brain. I have to admit cancer does get me down more than it should but I’ve found that those hard days will only make you stronger. You will have bad days even bad weeks and even though I still suffer with a lot, I always try to remain as positive as I can.
After battling Lymphoma twice including a stem cell transplant I am more likely to develop Leukaemia later in life as well as other cancer’s. The uncertainty of the cancer coming back again or getting diagnosed with a different kind of cancer scares the hell out of me but I know I can’t live my life in fear. Even if I am unlucky to get diagnosed with another cancer I will never give up fighting, cancer will never win.
This quote was written by a fellow Lymphomie and I think it explains life after cancer perfectly – “It’s like they throw you into the ocean with no life vest, and your just left to fend for yourself.” – Laura Strong
Even if you want to forget about it for a while it’s so hard as cancer is everywhere. Most people have been touched by it or it’s on television, you might see people collecting money for cancer charities at shopping centre’s, or even people generally talking while you shop which is what happened recently while I was shopping with my sister in Birmingham. Even if you want to get away from cancer, you can’t it’s always there.
I know I’ll be writing much more about life after cancer, every emotion and problem that comes with it but I’ll stop for now as you might be getting bored of me ranting but if you are struggling here’s a little bit of advice for life after cancer:
▪️Don’t be too hard on yourself, remember you have been through a lot! Take some time out of everyday even if it’s just 5 minutes.
▪️Give yourself and the people closest to you time to get used to things.
▪️Be honest about how you feel, let people know you still have a lot to deal with and that your still going to feel tired, weak and scared.
▪️Connect with other survivors! They will know how your feeling. The ‘Lymphoma Family’ have helped me through some tough times and still do. There is always someone to talk to. PLEASE reach out if your struggling, there are always people out there who understand.
▪️Maybe counselling? I know talking to a stranger is a scary thought but if your finding it hard it might help. Your doctor should be able to refer you.
▪️Write a journal or even start a blog!
▪️Try some exercise. Join a gym or just doing something little each day. I have actually just downloaded an app called “Seven” which on the days where I don’t go to the gym I can just do a 7 minute exercise routine. It’s very easy and I would definitely recommend it! You can download it from the app store.
“In battling cancer we engage in treatments that are harmful and toxic but ultimately lifesaving. Only after the war do we realise the high toll it took on our bodies.”