To say I have had a shocking year is an understatement. Covid19 has been about 5th or 6th on my list of bad things this year.
But today, I am not letting one negative idea, comment or concept anywhere near me.
Today, I have finished chemotherapy. No bells to ring in Switzerland, but metaphorically, I am ringing and a-dinging.
My family, many friends and even more colleagues have known what I have been going through, but I haven’t wanted to share this publicly, but today I want to. For one reason. It could be the trigger for someone to make an appointment to get checked. Please don’t put anything off.
(Just to be clear – jumping to point 5 below – the cancer was all removed on 7 August – it was caught early and hadn’t spread – so I am cancer free with a good prognosis. It was Triple Negative Breast Cancer which requires nuking with chemo.)
These are the things I am grateful for:
- Did I say chemotherapy is finished today? So, I still will take some time to recover – based on the last weeks of treatment, I will feel pretty lousy over the Christmas break, but I don’t have to come back next Wednesday and have more poison (albeit lifesaving cancer cell-nuking poison)
- I have been utterly overwhelmed by support from loved ones, colleagues and the medical staff I have meet. I feel more loved and supported than I ever have.
- The Swiss medical system could not have been more efficient. From finding a lump to being cancer-free took less than two weeks (diagnosis on Monday, lumpectomy Friday)… and then all the treatment books as quickly as it possibly can have been. Plus, I felt 100% trust in my gynaecologist and oncologist throughout
- I have a bloody good wig – being bald is rubbish, but being able to put on a wig that is certainly better than the last haircut I had just prior to diagnosis has enabled me to be able to play at being me and not a cancer patient
- The most important thing – my cancer was caught early. A pea-sized lump was on the edge of my breast so I found it very quickly. Catching it so early means, that while it was an aggressive form – Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I have the best possible prognosis.
So, if not today, then immediately after Christmas, book that medical appointment. Your smear test, check that mole, book a mammogram… please. I had never taken the time to consider the difference early diagnosis can make. And this year, we have heard of so many challenging situations where cancer patients are not prioritized due to Covid19. Do not put it off…
While, I am going to have some presents to open on Christmas Day and some that will be delivered in January for my recovery. I honestly only wanted one thing this year. To finish chemo so that I can start the process to heal and get my energy back. I still have radiotherapy, so need a little patience…
You can read more here – I found writing therapeutic and hoped it may help others. But the other important thing I wanted to share. Simply, thank you. The text messages, FB messenger check ins, the FaceTime calls, the care packages, the Monday meals from our neighbor, the advice from the incredible cancer survivors I’ve got to know. And at work the huge efforts to keep hassle away from my desk…
Well, thank you is not enough. I said from day one that I would never say ‘I’m grateful I had cancer – look what I learned’… I wish I never heard the words ‘sorry Mrs Jackson, it’s malignant’, but I did hear them and I will be richer for the experience.
Cherish the time with your loved ones – even if it has to be a smaller group. Merry, Healthy Christmas x