Tuesday, 18 November 2014

100 reasons why I'm thankful I was diagnosed with cancer - Part 2

Hi! I'm writing about reasons why I'm thankful I was diagnosed with cancer. This is called Part 2 for a reason! It follows on from a Part 1 - if you haven't read Part 1, it's here.

3. Experiencing the feeling you get as a result of random acts of kindness from strangers
It’s not just my friends, old and new, who have been amazing since I was diagnosed. The world is full of lovely people, and some of those lovely people, whose names I don't even know, have been very kind to me. For example, there was the time I went out for a meal with my friend Amy the night before my second chemo. The pub manager sent a bottle of Prosecco to our table to celebrate one chemo down! Then there are the times when, after talking to shop staff about chemo, when I am hunting out things that might help me, I’ve gone away to discover they’ve put freebies in my bag along with the things I bought. And then there are the kind messages I’ve received via my blog and Twitter from people wishing me well with treatment.

There are people who have been kind to me who I can never repay - in many instances I can't even thank them because I don't know who they are or I'll never see them again! Anyway, it's not the free bottle of Prosecco, or the bubblebath etc that I am thankful for. It's the feeling that comes from experiencing an out of the blue kindness that doesn't ask for or expect anything in return. I'm not sure what the name of that feeling is, but it's very nice and special, and I've been getting it a lot.

4. I'm learning to trust my own gut feeling

I was diagnosed early because I trusted my gut feeling. The facts and the reassurances from experts (I was only 33, I knew I didn't have a BRCA gene mutation, I couldn't feel a lump, the change was very subtle) -  as compelling as they were - didn't silence the little voice inside saying something was wrong.

Gut feeling, intuition, whatever you call it, I was absolutely right to trust it. In the four months since diagnosis, I think as a result of a combination of that (pretty dramatic) example of my gut feeling being right, and the general attitude I'm developing of "fuck it, life's too short to mess about" I've been more inclined than I ever was before to trust my own gut. (And yes, there are other times it's been right.)

I saw this on Twitter recently and it struck me that a lot of the time I do have a gut feeling, but these are exactly the things that are drowning it out.

Pride, experience and reason.

Pride, experience and reason would have had me cancel my ultrasound scan because I was so unlikely to have cancer, I would look like a silly hypochondriac, and I would risk a boy who cried wolf situation of not being listened to in the future.

Well! Pride, experience and reason.... In your face! I've clocked you now, I know what you're up to. You're stupid, boring and cowardly and I'm determined to not let you get in the way of my health, my happiness or my opportunities. My gut is cleverer than you, my heart is braver and I'm going to be happy and have a fucking good life!

5. I'm becoming less afraid of "What if?"

This follows on from the last point. I'm a thinker and I'm a worrier. Think, think, think. Worry, worry, worry.

But having cancer is starting to change that for two reasons. First of all, the whole "my time is precious" thing - I don't want to waste time, I just want to get on with my life. And secondly, what's the worst that could ever happen if I make a "wrong" decision? Will it ever be as bad as being diagnosed with cancer? Not likely. And I'm handling that aren't I? So... I can handle anything then can't I? So... what's the problem?

I've been coming to the realisation that when I'm making choices or decisions (I mean those that might be important or might not be particularly straightforward) there are two ways I can go about it:

1. Spend (waste) endless time thinking, deliberating, agonising over it to try and make the "right" decision, based on all the rational, logical arguments that come up as a result of my own knowledge or experience, or that of (well-meaning) friends. Two thoughts come to mind here. First is a quote: "The past influences everything and dictates nothing". Second is an observation: Other people are always very opinionated and love dishing out advice, but that's always going to be biased - as a result of their own experiences, fears, intentions etc.

2. Be brave, listen to my gut/heart, make a decision and go for it. This is where I need to throw in another quote....

I can't argue with that.

So, the second approach is obviously better and those gloomy "what if?"s can do one!



  1. Hello Sarah
    Glad I stumbled onto your blog (via a tweet from MarieK) - powerful, moving, writing. Wishing you all the best. Alastair T.

    1. Hi Alastair - thank you so much that's really nice of you to say! Sorry about all the swearing....!