Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Nearly 23 months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 18 months ago I finished chemo. 17 months ago I had the big surgery to remove the remaining cancer and my lymph nodes. 14 months ago I finished radiotherapy, marking the end of active cancer treatment.

Since the end of that active cancer treatment I have remained under the care of all 3 of Leicester's hospitals, with more appointments than I can remember or count. I had a second surgery 11 months ago (mastectomy and reconstruction on my "good" side) to reduce my risk of getting breast cancer again. A third surgery 7 months ago to exchange the temporary implants I had on both sides for permanent ones. And a fourth surgery 3 months ago for nipple reconstruction.

I've spent the last 14 months on Tamoxifen - a tablet I take each night containing a drug that blocks estrogen - to reduce the risk of my cancer returning. I'm pretty much in the menopause as a result. Following a number of appointments with Genetics and Gynaecology over the last few months, I am now on a waiting list to have a hysterectomy later this year - to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer.

Despite all this, it's a long, long time since anyone officially discussed my cancer with me.

The last time I had a scan to check for cancer spread around my body was a CT in October 2014. The last time I had any kind of scan was an ultrasound of my tumour (or lack of, to be more precise) in December 2014 after my last chemo. And the last time my cancer was really discussed was at my sign off towards the end of radiotherapy last year. It was a 10 minute appointment where the oncologist gave me my first Tamoxifen prescription, told me I'd be taking it for 10 years, and basically wished me well.

That now feels like it happened to a different person and my 2016 couldn't be more different to my 2014 and 2015.

I am working full time again, project managing my organisation's biggest project, as I should be. Work is generally my biggest and only stress these days which on the one hand is not good but on the other hand is so nice and normal.

My hair has grown back and my next goal is a short ombre bob like Alexa Chung had. I'm now obsessing more over colour than length which for anyone who has lost their hair through chemo will appreciate is a major change for the better.

Also, I, erm, fell in love 🙊🙈. According to my best friends I have become a fluffy, gooey twat, which is a bit embarrassing and I probably need to pull myself together, but I am insanely happy and a big part of it is him and all the fun we are having. I never expected that post-cancer - and everything that comes with it - that someone would love me. I was expecting to end up a Crazy Old Dog Lady. But I've been proven wrong. (Take note, young, single women with cancer.)

My friends are amazing and now I really feel like I am just back to being just one of the gang, rather than The Poor Friend With Cancer. I still take every opportunity to go out and enjoy myself. Since cancer I've not actually completed a single box set, or a single book. I can't sit still and quiet for long enough. I want to go out and see people and get drunk and be silly. I want to go to places I've never been before, and do things I've never done before. I'm ticking things off the Bucket List but it doesn't feel at all like a Bucket List any more. It's more like an "I Want To Try Everything Because I Don't Want To Miss Out" list.

So you can maybe imagine my "dismay" * when I remembered I have to go for my first ever "check up" at Oncology next week. I have to go back to the place where I went for chemo. The waiting area is the most oppressive and depressing place on the face of the earth. I'll be sitting and sweating there for too long, because inevitably the appointments will be running at least an hour behind. I'll be examined and asked a string of questions to try and determine how worried they should be on a scale of "Nyehhhh Go Home And Try And Forget About It For Another Year Unless You Get Literally Any Symptom Of Anything For More Than Ten Days In Which Case You Need To Let Us Know Immediately" through to "I'm referring you for a Bone scan/CT scan/Biopsy" (aka "Soz, I'd Put Money On You're Going To Die").

* "Dismay" doesn't really cover it. I feel sick! That cancer bullshit happened to a different person. I'm a different person now and it's not fair that I have to go back in to that world where I don't belong any more. Can they even make you go? What happens if you refuse to go? I'm tempted to find out. I've got the day off work next Wednesday and better things to do than sit in Oncology Hell. 

Anyway... You know I like song lyrics. Well, I'll end with some from Sia - "Reaper". The song I will have on repeat for the next week.

Don't come for me today
I'm feeling good, let me savour it
Don't come for me today
I'm feeling good, and I remember when

You came to take me away
So close I was to heaven's gates
But, no, baby, no, baby, not today

You tried to track me down
You followed me like the darkest cloud
But, no, baby, no, baby, not today
Oh Reaper
So come back when I'm good and old
I got drinks to drink, a man to hold
I got good things to do with my life
I wanna dance in the open breeze
Feel the wind in my hair, hear the ocean sing
I got good things to feel in my life

Don't come for me today
I'm feeling good, let me savour it