Sunday, 22 March 2015

100 reasons why I'm thankful I was diagnosed with cancer - Part 5

I'm adding some more to my list today, prompted by this post, Be Strong, Yo! which my friend Diane has published today. And I quote:

Be thankful: Focus on the good. Cultivate a life filled with gratitude and be thankful for the experiences that life has given you each day. Train yourself to find blessing in everything because a grateful heart is a magnet for a positive life.

So here's a couple more to add to the list. This first one I wrote weeks and weeks ago! But it is still relevant...

14. Self-esteem boost!
(There's a soundtrack to this one. It's here, sorry about the short ad at the start, especially if you get the same ad that I did, which is Kanye West, sorry.)
I'll try to not let this escalate uncontrollably into narcissism but I've had a bit of a self-esteem boost recently and that feels nice! Especially as over the last six months there have been points where my self-esteem nosedived to almost non-existent. I've found it hard to word what I want to say here so I'll just put it bluntly. There are people in life who make you feel good about yourself, and there are people in life who make you feel like shit about yourself.  I'm sure that's true for everyone. The question is, who do you let affect and influence you the most? I've been told plenty of times, and I know it myself, I'm a people pleaser. I don't think that's a negative thing, until it gets to the point where you allow people to treat you badly, or you waste time and energy trying to please people who frankly aren't worth your time and energy because they just aren't nice. And that's where self-esteem comes in.
In the run up to surgery, and in the few weeks since surgery, I've been inundated with cards, messages, emails, and I've been really moved by some of the things people have said to me. (I have a long list of thank you cards to write and send!) It's meant a lot, it really has. And it made me realise, in keeping with YOLO and life is short/time is precious, when there are that many people in my life who are so nice and so thoughtful, and who care about me, why would I ever want to waste time and energy on people who aren't nice or don't care? I'll try not to any more.
Oh and in explanation of the song... My honorary sister Emily sent me a card when I got my post-surgery pathology results and one of the things she said was that she thinks of me every time she hears Katy Perry, Roar. In all honesty, I'm not a Katy Perry fan, but I do love that song and I'm definitely making Roar my personal anthem.
Update [even this update is old now, oops]: I drafted this a couple of weeks ago, then last week, Emily was at mine, cooking me dinner (good sister!) and I put this song on. She told me the line that really makes her think of me is "I went from zero, to my own hero." That really made me smile because it was what I was going to put as the heading for this but then I didn't because it felt too bigheaded!

15. I waved goodbye to dignity
Yyyyup! I'm adding it as something to be thankful for because dignity is over-rated, anyway. A breast cancer diagnosis makes saying goodbye to dignity inevitable. It starts with repeatedly getting the top half of your kit off to be examined and groped by one doctor or nurse after another. Ask any woman with breast cancer; it becomes that regular an occurrence that when you walk in to a room to meet someone for the first time, you automatically whip your top and bra off without being asked and without even thinking about it, whether you need to or not. But talking to strangers topless is just the beginning. Once chemo gets going there's no amount of putting your clothes back on that will restore your dignity. Chemo causes bleeding, leaking, sweating, fungal infections, crusty bits, sores. There are times you might be puking so violently it sprays back out the toilet nearly hitting the friend who is holding your hair back. There are times you're too tired to wash or get dressed for several days in a row. And then there's surgery, when you have to lie back and accept, amongst other things, one of the following scenarios... You'll either have a catheter in meaning someone will be rooting around down there to get the catheter in you, or you won't, meaning it's possible you'll wet yourself while you're unconscious in surgery. In my case I had a catheter in. I went down to surgery with knickers and gown on, and woke up with a catheter in and my knickers handed back to me in a little plastic bag.
But you know what... once you accept all this and say goodbye to dignity, medical appointments and procedures actually become a bit less stressful. Doctors and nurses really have seen it all before, and whatever you're going to present to them - they've almost certainly seen worse.
I've not seen one in a while, but remember those adverts about bowel cancer? The ones that tell you to put aside embarrassment and go and see your doctor if something isn't right at the arse end of business? Those adverts really do have a very important message and it doesn't just apply to your bum. You might be a lovely person, but you're living in a human body. Hiding behind all the effort you put in to look or feel nice (your clothes, hairstyle, makeup, and your washing and shaving and whatever else you do) there's a gross and un-lovely human body. We all have one and they're all gross, they're all disgusting. So don't EVER let embarrassment prevent or delay you from seeing a doctor if something isn't right. I know I won't.

In fact, I'm going to end here, and leave you with this:

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