It’s been a weird few weeks since I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The doctors were right, the tumour was “tiny” but unfortunately it was damn aggressive so at the end of the month I’m booked in for complex major surgery performed by a robot with human assistance. Hopefully I’ll blog more on that at a later date.
Is it wrong to say I’ve had more up days than down? Is it wrong to say I still laugh out loud at stupid things and make jokes? I ask because I’m beginning to feel as if I’m not doing this cancer thing properly at all.
A stranger who also has bladder cancer read my first blog and accused me of being “blasé”. Another pointed out that (unlike me?) she was “devastated” when she was diagnosed. Well hey, guess what? I was devastated. I still am. But does that mean I have to put my usual witty (come on, humour me folks, I’ve got cancer), sarcastic, occasionally dark sense of humour to one side and be a cancer patient, with all the tears and fear that that entails?
The other day a nurse asked me what I was doing with myself in the run up to the op. I explained I was still running, socialising and working. She tilted her head and looked at me gravely. I was doing too much, she said. I had to find some time for me.
Er… er… What is a 20-minute run every other day if it isn’t for me? What are the coffees, lunches, meals out, soirees and trips to the cinema with a great bunch of friends if they’re not for me? I write for a living. It’s a job I enjoy and it’s a great distraction. It also pays the bills because cancer or no cancer, they still need paying. I’m writing now and I’m not getting paid for it. Who am I doing it for if it’s not for me?
I left confused (and angry). What does she want? For me to sit in a darkened room, self-flagellating with bamboo sticks chanting: “Cancer ye is me and me is thee”?
I realise cancer isn’t a 'battle' or a 'fight'. You’re told you’ve got it and then, with a hell of a lot of help from the wonderful NHS, you do your damndest to get rid of it. I don’t want to be a cancer patient with a bit of me added on. I’m me with a “tiny but aggressive” bit of cancer attached. Now where's that bamboo?