The Courage I Gained as a Cancer Survivor
People regularly talk about the “strength” of cancer patients. Many of my own friends said that they admired me, that I was a “strong” woman, a “force to be reckoned with”, a “warrior”. Not true! Inside I was feeling like a scared child, vulnerable and terrified of what was to come next. I felt that I was living in fear of my own body - what was “it” (my body) going to do to me next?
We have to carry on
A cancer journey is certainly never smooth or easy, everything that is happening is outside of our control. We keep going because we have to. We have no other choice. Our journey is mapped with tests and more tests. Then the awaiting of results, tumor grading, treatment, hospital visits, lots of hospital visits, and so it goes on...
Coping with treatment
As a human being, it’s a part of our inherent make up to “survive”. After all, that’s why we’ve remained top of the food chain for thousands of years. That “fighting spirit” which lies within us all.
But I didn’t want to fight, I wanted to go back to the way things were before I had cancer. But that was never going to happen. So instead, we have to learn to “cope” with our diagnosis and the prescribed treatment that goes with it.
Treatment can be harsh
Treatment can be harsh, whether you have BCG, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or a radical cystectomy, all can be difficult in their own ways. But we carry on, because we have to. It’s surprising how much we can actually endure when we have no choice. For me, this has been the most emotionally and physically challenging time in my life. I was at the weakest I have ever been physically yet somehow I mustered the strength to get through the treatments, TURBTs, chemo and ending with a cystectomy.
Now, just over a year since my cystectomy I sit and reflect on how this cancer has changed me.
I no longer “sweat” about the little stuff, such as my son having half of the crockery left stashed in his bedroom. It doesn’t matter that today my hair is a mess, or the fact I got bleach on my top. These things become irrelevant. But what surprised me is the courage I got to try new experiences. I have been terrified of heights and suffered with vertigo for many years. However, I booked for me and hubby to go “dining in the sky” in Singapore. A 2 hour dining experience on a cable car, high above the city. I would never in a million years even considered this, prior to my cancer. I’ve had the courage to say how I truly feel, both positive and negative to those closest to me. If I’m unhappy about something, I deal with it, rather than just sittings and complaining about it. I put myself out there to try new experiences, after all “I’ve beaten cancer”, and for now I feel that I can do almost anything as nothing is ever gonna be as terrifying as a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer woke me up to life
I feel, without sounding corny, that cancer woke me up to life and all of its great offerings. So for now I’m gonna do all those crazy things I never had the courage to do before and enjoy every minute of this new life, that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given.
Have your views towards bladder removal changed since you were diagnosed?