I don’t like to blog before an important check up as I’ve become increasingly superstitious and I don’t like to tempt fate. But last week saw not one but two life-changing results and now I feel relieved and ready to write.
Firstly, I received the all clear from cancer (for the next six months, which is all I can hope for) and secondly, my corrective surgery has worked. This means my leaky neobladder has been plugged and I can resume a normal life after nine months of debilitating incontinence. I don’t think I’ve been as explicit about this before but it is what it is and I know from the mountain of Tena pads sold in my local shops that I wasn’t alone.
Some of the past 15 months have been hellish. Not only have I been to some very dark places (and dragged my loved ones along with me), I’ve also discovered what it’s like to feel broken, physically and mentally; to lose my appetite for weeks on end; to have restricted mobility; to lose all confidence in my body and to struggle to navigate the red tape that surrounds frontline medical services. It’s always easier to organise a meeting with the top professor at UCLH than it is to get a GP appointment and the battle I had to receive my prescription NHS protective equipment from the local authority took four months, endless soul-destroying phone calls (sometimes when I was in bed, feeling terrible from chemo) and a number of firm emails, including one to my MP. I’m particularly disgusted with that.
There is nothing sexy about cancer, especially bladder cancer. I was bemused at how many people assumed I had breast cancer (reader, other cancers are available) and horrified when people I barely knew asked me how I went to the toilet. I’m disappointed with the few friends that dropped me like a hot potato when I got ill but yet but yet, I am alive, I feel great, I can handle the changes to my body (I love my neobladder but it is a little demanding), I appreciate my friends and family so much, I realise if I want to do something, I’ll do it now and not wait 10 years until I have more money/more stuff/more unicorns.
Would I have wished this on my worst enemy? No. Am I a better, stronger person for it? Yes. Cancer will affect half of us and it’s inevitable that some people reading this will have that horrible diagnosis at some point. But cancer loves a cliché and there is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m here to prove it. For now at least. I don’t like to tempt fate.