A 5-Year Cancerversary: Resilience and Small Cell Bladder Cancer
FIVE YEARS, FÜNF JAHRE, CINQ ANNÉES. It doesn't matter how you write it. It is MY 5th-year anniversary of diagnosis, with this neuroendocrine, small cell bladder cancer! Go me! Woo hooooooo!
Am I really feeling those emotions? No, I am not.
My small cell bladder cancer journey is unique
I have spent today being insular and withdrawn. It's one thing to imagine how you will feel on "milestone days" but for me, it's totally different living them. I know just how fortunate I am to still be alive and perhaps not 'thriving' but certainly enjoying my life - with limitations. How could I not? I am alive, I am a nana, a mum, a wife and so much more.
Sometimes, I look back at the past five years and cannot believe the journey I have had. From a terminal diagnosis, "You are going to die really soon," to a walking miracle, "We have no idea why you are still alive and NED." It seems surreal.
Cancerversaries are reminder days
It is a "reminder" day! A day to reflect on just how far we have come. I say "we" because it has been a family effort. Tim, the hubs, has just been amazing. I did wonder at the start of this experience if we would still be together now. Cancer can destroy families. Resentment can build towards the illness, damaging the relationship. Not us though. We are still laughing along through life together. Still bickering (we don't bicker).
It has been my family and friends who have kept me sane, laughing and loving life.
Reflecting on my cancerversary: then and now
My relationship with Ashleigh, my son, grows stronger by the day. We still keep the conversation light over cancer coming back but at least we are at a stage where we can talk about it without falling apart. I know that he found it so terribly hard to cope with the diagnosis in the early days.
There were many times when our emotions were raw, unhinged, and frayed. Every day seemed to be filled with anxiety, fear, and dread. It has and will always be the "unknown" that scares us.
Five years on, we are armed with knowledge and experience and this has made life bearable. We are stronger than ever before. We try not to worry about "life" anymore, just about our lives. We live each day as it comes and we make plans and set ourselves goals now. In the beginning, we were too afraid.
Finding strength with family and friends
When we started out on this journey we were told that my chances of living to 5 years were very slim to none. This was due to my small cell bladder cancer had metastasized to my bones. There wasn't much hope for me BUT look at me now. I'm still alive. My quality of life isn't too great, at the moment, however, I can find my strength in my family, my friends, and of course my darling husband Tim.
After my treatments ended
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy [radiation], radical cystectomy, and a full hysterectomy. My cervix was removed as was a part of the vagina wall. I was told that I would never be classed as being "in remission" as small cell bladder cancer will always come back. Cancer in the bones has just been deactivated, for now.
Reflecting on my small cell cancerversary
I do feel it is a momentous time in my battle with small cell bladder cancer. I feel epic. I think breakfast will be a glass of champagne or several. Followed by a fabulous, yummy smoked salmon bagel, then another glass of champers!
How do you celebrate your bladder cancer resilience? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Have you talked to your doctor about navigating sex with bladder cancer?