Never Take a Moment for Granted
You never know when something will trigger your gratitude for the simple things in life. The things around you. The people around you who mean the most, life itself even.
As I have progressed in my journey and have grown stronger, I have tried as much as possible to help others.
Through my social media presence and advocacy work, I often message or chat with people who are looking for advice, to understand what to expect, or just for an ear to listen.
Many other fellow bladder cancer patients or survivors support others too. Often giving back for the support they received during their journey, especially in the early days. Paying it forward if you like.
For me, it was somewhat different. From my first symptoms to my life-saving surgery was just over 3 months with so much going on in between these two points in time.
Helping you helps me
I have said it before, although I was active on social media, I never thought to reach out and find support. My whole time and mind were consumed with just getting to the next stage and ultimately, and God willing, to the operating theater.
So, it is about being there for people in a way that I know would have helped me. Although I do caveat this with the fact that it was some time post-surgery before I processed everything emotionally. For sure, some things shared possibly would have scared me at the time as I wouldn't have been mentally equipped to process it. On the other hand, especially practical tips on what to expect would have been invaluable.
Supporting another ostomy patient
For several months recently, I had been supporting a patient. They had been on their journey for some time, and the consultant [doctor] had advised them the next step was a radical cystectomy (RC) and the creation of a urostomy. Together we navigated through each step leading to their surgery. I listened and provided advice when asked.
As the weeks became months, we got to know each other better, more than just about our bladder cancer journey but about each other's lives, likes and dislikes, and our families.
While we never got to meet in person, we had formed a "remote" friendship.
Getting back after surgery
The surgery went well, and it was great to see them get stronger. They started to get back to normal things, and while a long recovery was still ahead, progress was good.
Then like a bolt out of the blue, everything changed. The disease had progressed, and the path ahead looked very different. Different but still with a plan, and things seemed on track.
There were some other setbacks, but overall, there was a plan. Treatment went ahead as planned. Things seemed back on track. We continued to keep in touch regularly. Then came the next text.
A sudden passing
Something I wasn't expecting and wasn't prepared for, a close family member had passed suddenly.
Right there and then, I was stopped in my tracks. I know no one is invincible. I think any cancer patient knows that more than anyone. However, I just didn't expect it.
It made me take a step back. Initially feeling immensely upset for the life lost way before their time.
That said, the biggest thing that hit me when I heard this news was once again a reminder of how short and precious life is.
I had spoken to them just days before, and just like that, they were no longer here. It renews the rawness of death and how quickly life can be taken away from us. It also made me take stock. I am grateful daily for the second chance at life that my medical team afforded me, but this reminded me of how fragile life is.
I definitely told my husband I loved him a few extra times in the days that followed. I took time to breathe and look around me and appreciate all the good in my life.
So remember to take a moment today and appreciate what is good in your life.
How well does your healthcare provider understand your bladder cancer?