My Bladder Cancer Diagnosis Was One Great Mirror
Everyone will remember the moment of diagnosis. I certainly do. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said, "It's bad news, it's a tumour. Now, everything I say after this you will not hear, so we will give you a leaflet when you leave." And sure enough, after that bombshell, I cannot recall what he said next.
The news hit hard
It hit hard. It does for everyone. It sounds like a cliché, but time did take on a different quality in the seconds, minutes, hours following that news. I seemed to be building myself back up piece by piece after that. My world automatically let go of things that were no longer important to me. Emails, telephone calls, work, pleasure didn't sort of matter anymore to me, at that moment.
Confronting my mortality
I often think of my diagnosis as one great mirror. It's natural for anyone that goes through what I have to reflect and think long and hard over their time. 51 is comparatively young, and the diagnosis was a stark lesson in mortality. We tend to go around living our immortality, blind to the fact that time is limited and we may just be wasting it every day.
The opportunity to look back and reconnect
All of a sudden you have an opportunity to look back, reflect, and think about what past you would have created. It's an opportunity to say sorry, thank you, pick up the phone and find out how someone that you may not have heard from for ages is doing. The 'I wonder what so and so is doing now...' moments. Do it. It is a great reality check to be put in front of your mortality. Have I made a difference? If so, to whom? If I haven't made a difference, then should I make one?
Don't wait to tell people how they make you feel
These questions, of course, may not have immediate answers (if any at all), but it does make you think. Think. Not getting morbid, but it has often made me wonder, why do we say how great a person was at their funeral, or when they've gone? Tell them now. I don't mean a token comment like, 'Oh you're a great friend' or anything, really tell them – tell them how they make you feel.
Realizing my impact
Recently, I was contacted by a friend I hadn't seen in 35 years, who had invited me to her wedding. Bizzare. 35 years of nothing, then this. Well, she told me that the reason for it was she and her partner agreed to invite only people that have made them happy. Bizarre? No. Amazed? Yes. Never underestimate the impact you have on people's lives, regardless of how brief or long ago the friendship was and please don't wait till they've gone, tell them now. Cancer for me at least served this ideal. It became my mirror.
Have you talked to your doctor about navigating sex with bladder cancer?