Part 13: The end of my cancery tale

The happiest ending

I can remember sitting in my gynaecologist’s office in early August talking about a likely treatment plan and counting on my fingers and thinking ahead to today.

So, after a lumpectomy; insertion of a port-a-cath; two rounds of chemo, or 13 sessions (ending up as weak as a kitten, but looking far less healthy); and 20 sessions of radiotherapy – with just one more later today, I am 10 minutes’ of treatment away from no longer being a cancer patient. That was six and a half months of a rollercoaster that I really did not want to go on.

My cancery tale has the happiest possible ending. I have been cancer-free since the August 7, when I had a lumpectomy to remove a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Tumour, the size of a small marble. My prognosis, because of early diagnosis, is as good as it could possibly be. I truly believe that I am more likely to be run over by a bus crossing the road than to die of cancer. To be clear, I am not in remission… I don’t have cancer.

The last 5 weeks of radiotherapy are a good segway into putting this behind me. It has been much more of a logistical challenge, rather than any health impact. A little tiredness, maybe, and discomfort or mild pain in my breast, with skin irritation coming only at session 19… While it has been really easy, you are still going through cancer treatment – treatment to ensure that the vile disease doesn’t return. I needed to remind myself of this when I was annoyed at the inconvenience in the middle of full working days.

And then there have been the many messages from people who read my blog in December and have followed up on health checks. Thank you so much. I have been moved even to tears to read your stories.

Recovery

I can see my body recovering. The healthy growth on my nails is now up to halfway and I nearly have a buzzcut – half alpaca soft fluff and then real growth. I have been walking and cycling and doing exercises to get my hip back to where it was in August. It will take several months to get really fit, but I am in control of that and determined. And mentally, I feel incredible. During the madness of lockdown (light version in Switzerland) I find myself with a huge grin at the most ordinary of days. Watching Libby practice her 180s on a skateboard without wheels in the living room, Ben being proud of a piece of work or X-box win, making a smoothie or baking banana bread. Just relishing feeling well each day.

The timing is fantastic, we booked to go to the mountains for half term tomorrow. So, my plan is to breathe in the mountain air and enjoy the feeling of sun on my skin and enjoy time with my wonderful family. Feeling grateful that we can have a change of scene when so many are stuck in real lockdown. I won’t ski this season – I have had enough medical appointments for a lifetime.

Little detour in life

I was determined that cancer didn’t diminish me or take away who I am. So, here I am, 27 weeks after hearing those words “I am sorry Mrs Jackson, it’s cancer”. I have been through a little detour that represents less than 1% of my life so far and I am not defined by that and I am the opposite of diminished. I hope to be able to hold on to this renewed vigour and appreciation for the littlest things – the dappling of the sunlight, the warmth of a hug from one of my children. And will forever appreciate the love and support I have been shown by close friends and family who checked in weekly; my Mother’s fury and wishes to swap places; colleagues who did everything to help make work easier; and a network of so many people who made me feel brilliant through this period. And not forgetting my husband who made me feel beautiful on even the darkest days.

Last words to Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Thank you xxx

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