The Happy Smiling Girl

The Happy Smiling Cancer Girl

I turn 30 this week… I find it a little surreal. 9 months ago I couldn’t see myself getting to this point. Not because I didn’t think I’d be alive to see it but because your life get puts on hold and you just can’t see the future.

I’ve been a bit quiet since getting my latest results. I couldn’t trust my emotions for a while, and describe how I actually felt. It’s a bizzare feeling getting declared no evidence of disease. You would think it’s all happiness and good vibes but in reality it’s just as emotional and soul destroying as the bad news.

You’re probably wondering how.

Well my first thought after getting my good news was “well what was the fucking point of all that?”

For the last 18 months my life has been thrown inside out and has been destroyed. Anything previous that I had achieved became meaningless. Forever more my life will be tainted by this stupid fucking disease.

So yes, although I breathed a sigh of relief, and I am at a point that I dreamed I would never reach, I can’t help being pissed.

I will still be living my life in 3 month periods and this will probably be like this for a while until (if it gets that far) I’m clear for a while then it’ll go to 6 months, 1 year and so on.

My oncologists doesn’t want to expose me too much to CT scans and such. I’ve had a hell of a lot of exposure to it already and there is just no knowing what I will need in the future. So at the moment, I’m rotating between chest x-rays and CT scans.

Chest x-rays because they expect it to come back there first. Basically where the tumour on the left lung was, the tumour they never treated with radiotherapy because it was too small, they never actually expected it to go with chemotherapy alone. So my lungs are a weak point.

If I think too hard about it all it really does terrify me what my future may hold. It’s so bloody aggressive when it starts growing. I mean for crying out loud I never even felt any symptoms when it started on my lungs!! How are you meant to be prepared for something that you can’t feel exists?

I asked my oncologists if I could have monthly blood tests or something to detect if its active again. Just my luck my cancer doesn’t show up in the blood results.

For fucks sake! So what do I do?

I live.

I can’t stress over something that I don’t know what will happen.

I feel like I should be. I feel like that if it was anyone else they would be freaking the fuck out over it all but I’m just not. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do have the odd moment of “what the heck” but it’s not often. It’s the usual little late night niggles when you don’t drop of to sleep straight away.

Post traumatic stress disorder is pretty common apparently in cancer survivors. But honestly… I don’t really feel like a survivor. I haven’t survived this. It’s just been put on hold. I’ve not got “the all clear” that everyone talks of and there will be none of this “5 year all clear” stuff. It’s just inactive right now…. Well for all I know it could already be growing again! But I’m not thinking like that… All the time.

It’s hard not to feel like a grenade with the pin out! At any point I could go off and life will be chaos again!

So my what’s next for 30, chapter?

Well I want to use this to my advantage. Believe it or not I have a lot of cancer knowledge under my belt! It’s been a full time job with fuck all to show for it but my life!

I’m never gonna be a millionaire as cancer screws with the finances and your financial security but really… What’s the point in saving for when I’m 80? There’s no guarantee any of us are gonna make it that far, cancer or no cancer!

But whatever way I go out of this world, I wanna be happy with what I have achieved. Cancer is no party, and if I can help one person make their day a bit brighter when going through treatment or after treatment, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

I’m not gonna stop my blog. I still enjoy it and there’s still a fair bit of recovery to do. It will also link quite nicely with my next chapter in life.

Life goes on.

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Oh and if you haven’t seen my Instagram page yet, just an update: the curls are WILD!

Double, double tinder and trouble; Fuck you burns and cynicism bubbles.

You know this one will probably be a fairly emotional one… For me, probably not you. It’s probably something you don’t really think about. And I’m not gonna lie… It’s a difficult one for me to write. I’ve debated HARD about whether I should post this… But I said from the start I would show all sides of cancer. The good, the bad and the ugly. No hiding, no editing, no lying.

So the strong, independent, feminist finds this tough to admit.

But sometimes I find this lonely.

And not in the sense that cancer is a lonely battlefield that you’re fighting by yourself. I mean it’s just me.

I have my family and friends that I’m forever grateful for but they’re not there when it’s dark. They all go home at the end of the day.

Now,  I’ve always been an independent woman and I’ve never found myself co-dependant on anyone and the thought of myself becoming like that terrifies me. I’d hate to be that girl.

But there are a lot of things I have noticed in this past year that if I was healthy, I would give a good “fuck you” to but I guess as it’s a sensitive spot, cancer and me, I feel like if I ever said anything it would look like an overreaction 🙄 because I have cancer.

Let’s look back on a year ago. Just over a year ago, I had a pretty healthy dating life. I’m not gonna go into the details because that’s unnecessary and I’m very aware there’s family that reads this.

I was still talking to some of these guys when I was first diagnosed back in January. Every single one of them I told the truth and gave them an “out”. All of them said the usual “I’m sorry”, “that’s shit”, blah blah blah… To be fair,  they all were pretty curious and it helped me,  I guess,  deal with it by talking about it. But they all said they wouldn’t just drop me. I mean what kind of guy would that make them?!

Now before you go off on one,  this doesn’t make me a whore. None of it was a relationship. It was dating. Going on dates, chatting, usual 20s dating crap.

Me,  being very cynical,  didn’t believe any of them. I mean if it was flipped would I want to be involved with all that… Probably not. I know… How superficial and arrogant of me.

And now? I don’t hear from a single one of them. Even guys who I knew were interested in me but it never went anywhere don’t talk to me anymore. And I don’t mean this in an arrogant way where I had hundreds of guys chasing me because that’s not the way,  but any interest has now completely dropped. I don’t even get a “hey, how are you going?” I’m not doing this post to be self centred saying that everything should be about me and everyone should ask me how I’m getting on with treatment or whatever,  I’m just explaining how hard it can be adjusting to my new life and knowing that this will be it… I’m not being all woe me, please pity me. It’s just highlighting how different my life is now. This is the reality of cancer.

To be fair, I don’t blame them. I mean who wants to deal with this. But what I do have a problem with is the lies. I gave you all an out. But none of you took it.

So here I say fuck you.

Here I say look at me and how far I’ve come. On my own.

I may always be on my own… And I find that hard to say. I may not. But let’s be realistic it takes a special kind of person to take cancer on and let’s be real… If I couldn’t find that guy before when I was healthy, what’s the chance now! 😂 Especially in this new superficial, narcissistic world of swiping left or right!

I know I wouldn’t want it… If I had the choice that is.

The happy pessimist

I got some good news for once this week. Chemo is working! My scan from last week has shown an excellent response. The chemo has reduced the size of the tumors and one is barely visible. With this news it will mean that I will continue with the rest of my planned chemotherapy treatments.

I should be happy, right?

And I’m pleased. I am. But I can’t exactly say I’m over the moon, bouncing from room to room, can’t stop smiling happy. And why you ask?

Because this isn’t the end.

Yes, it’s a good result. But how long for?

I told you last time, after the devastating results from my 3 month post treatment scan it’ll shit on any other happy news in the future. And it really has.

I’m pleased. I am. And I’m happy for my family and friends that they’re finally hearing something good… But it is definitely shadowed by the fact that this isn’t it. Even if it clears up after all of the chemotherapy and whatever treatment follows after, it won’t be the end.

It will most likely come back. It might not be straight away. It could be 5 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years or more but it will at some point return.

Until they figure out a way to completely eradicate it from my lymph or blood… Wherever it is travelling from, its not over.

I’m OK with this. I’d rather it wasn’t this way but I’ve accepted my fate in life. I’m still positive about my diagnosis. Don’t misconceive what I am saying. Just because the news before shat on every other bit of goodness now or in the future, I am still positive about my treatment. I feel good in myself and I won’t let that stop me from living how I want to live.

Its just… I don’t know… The big fat elephant in the room that’s staring me in the face is still there. So I’m happy but I feel like I can’t truly be 100% happy because before I know it the rug will be pulled from beneath my feet again and I’ll be back to square one. And it’ll crush me.

But worst of all, it’ll crush the people I love.

I hate that this now makes me look at the other side of life. The more pessimistic side… That’s not me. But I have no choice. I have to be realistic.

So this week I am happy. But probably not as happy as I would have been this time last year had I received good news. Because although I am happy, any big fat sunny happiness I have now gets shadowed by the dark and ugly side of cancer. And forever will be no matter how small it may become in the future years… It’ll always be there in the background waiting to pop back up and ruin everything all over again.

On another note, apparently I have shingles! 🙄 I’m an anomaly again as I don’t have the “normal” symptoms. Just a rash on my back, other than that I feel pretty normal… Considering.

It shouldn’t interfere with my chemo on Friday thank goodness but bloody hell… Can’t catch a break at the minute! 😂

Feeling Fake

I’ve debated quite a lot about whether I should post this. I don’t like to worry people and I don’t want people to treat me differently by treading on eggshells. If it’s anything like the last few posts then I expect I’ll get a lot of messages… Or not. Haha. You may not care! 😂

But I want to be true to myself and I said when I started this that I would give the honest truth to everything. It may be hard to hear at times and it may be stuff that people don’t want to hear about but it’s my life. The good the bad and the ugly. This. Is. Me.

I feel fake.

Everything I seem to do at the minute is forced. My smiles don’t come so easily and my positive vibes are lacking.

When I knew what was going on I could deal with it. There was progress. I may have felt shit day in and day out but I knew treatment was working. I was one step closer to getting my life back.

I don’t know what’s coming. I’m lost. I’m sad. I’m feeling fake.

I’m not depressed. I think that word gets thrown about too much. I’m just sad. I’ll get over this eventually… Probably in about 2 weeks.

I found out last month that I can’t donate blood anymore. That’s just another thing that makes me sad. After having 10 units of blood back in January it means I can never donate again after the whole blood fiasco in the 80s. It’s another piece of my old life I can’t do anymore.

I feel like I’m kind of short changing you guys at the minute. This was meant to be the stories of a happy smiling cancer girl 😂 and it’s been lacking in the happy and smiling aspects of late! I promise, I’ll buck up my ideas and get back on track soon.

I’m in a funk but I’ll deal with it… Like everything else! This won’t last.

Sometimes superheroes need support too

I’m a bit more rational this week. Last week was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster from finding out the status of my cancer and joining a support group, I felt like I’d been dragged through the ringer emotionally by the end of it.

So yes, last week I bit the bullet and joined a cancer support group. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty reluctant to begin with. Most people will probably wonder why because surely it’s a natural part of life to ask for help and support at difficult times. But for me, I can’t really say I saw it that way. I saw it as something weak and even more isolating by just highlighting everything about you and that it’s for people with cancer. I don’t want it to be anymore obvious in my life! I don’t know why I care about what people think or their judgement towards it, because I don’t normally give a hoot what people think of me… I guess cancer, for me, is a bit of a sore spot. Yes, it makes me different but I don’t want to be seen weaker for it. People say “you’re so strong it’s amazing what you’re going through!” and it’s true, I am! Haha. But cancer does make you weaker. You’re tired more. Your bones ache. You’ve got a long list of medications that you can’t say the names but you know that they help you function. You have to have your “emergency” pack of stuff wherever you go;

  • Sick bag: ✔️ check
  • Anti-sickness pills: ✔️ check
  • Anti-poop pills: ✔️ check
  • Tissues: ✔️ check
  • Wet wipes: ✔️ check
  • mints: ✔️ check

And believe me, these emergency pack supplies are not just random items! They’re items I wish I had on me at some point. Driving down the A34 at night, throwing up on yourself because there’s nowhere to pull in and you have nothing in your bag to use, you’re not gonna chunder in your amazing new hat you’ve just bought, you’ll just wish you had that sick bag! The anti-poop pills are probably a bit if over caution because I don’t have any juicy story where I actually shit myself! I have managed to maintain that small, and only bit of dignity. I guess that is my constant fear of being that person though… Because at the hospital I’ve seen it happen to other people… And it’s not fucking funny then.

So the support group, I did see it as another form of weakness, judge me all you like for thinking that way because that’s what I thought. I like to be independent and strong and only need the basics. When my mum first suggested the group to me I wanted to cry. I wasn’t a depressive about this, was I? I’ve been doing OK! Why do I need to go to a group and chat about my feelings? The self preservation side of me doesn’t want to make new cancer friends… What happens in a few years time if I’m still going to the groups and I find I’m going to funeral after funeral?

So I sat on it for a few months and just thought about it. I kept going backwards and forwards driving myself crazy just thinking about it.

Because with all of the negative sides, I kept thinking what if I could help someone else? Just because I’m doing so well in my self mentally, doesn’t mean someone else is. That was a strong factor for me. It kind of counteracted all the negative points for me.

So on Saturday, I thought screw it, I’m gonna go. So I did. I went to a cancer support group called Shine. They help cancer sufferers and survivors in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They meet each month doing different activities on a casual basis. So this month we met in a pub and just sat chatting and drinking all afternoon. There was none of this ponce of “Hi, I’m Amanda and I have cancer…” sort of crap. I mean, yeah, being the newbie they wanna know your story, but you get a story back in return so you’re not the only one on show! And my god… I tell you, some other people’s stories are just so heartbreaking… Man alive, does it put life into perspective. It’s in no way all doom and gloom. It’s a support network. These people are there for each other in ways that friends and family just can’t… They can relate.

I really wish it wasn’t called a support group though… Because still, in my mind, it sounds weak. But these people aren’t weak. They’re superheroes… So this week, I went to a cancer superhero group.

See! Sounds much better, right?

A scrambled mess of prosecco and overthinking

It’s been a weird few days. A bit of an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs. It has been a week of cuddling babies, turning 29, popping prosecco and partying with the most awesomest of awesome friends that have helped me through the last few months… Although if you asked them they wouldn’t say that. They think they haven’t done enough or anything at all that deem them awesome but they honestly really have.

Even just a ‘hey, how are you?’ when the world around you has turned into an unstable mess can mean the world. You may read this with skepticism and think how? But there were days that I would struggle to even think about getting out of bed, let alone actually do it. So a ‘hey, how are you?’ can really go far. It gives purpose. It gives hope. It gives you a reason.

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you, there have been many times those ‘hey, how are you?’s went unanswered… Why? Well when your arse has been ripped raw from being burned from radiotherapy and you struggle to climb in and out of a car to go everyday to the place that’ll make you better, but you know in the short term will make you worse, you do get a bit wrapped up in your own self-absorbed world. Please don’t pity me or my arse rubbed raw story. Haha. It’s all better now and you would never even know. 😉 however, I may look at our pothole filled roads in a whole new light!

Now, I’m not randomly going up to strangers and cuddling babies, you don’t have to worry about my sanity quite yet. Haha. But I’m finding that I’m of that “age” now where babies, engagements and weddings are becoming a frequent occurrence. Having one of these factors of mine altered, and I say altered because it’s still possible, remember! I’ve started to question aspects of my life. Nothing is ever going to change what has happened but I think it’s healthy to look at things differently. But it’s another “why me?” 😫 kind of moment, unfortunately, because say for example, I did decide to foster or adopt, every aspect of my life will be under analysis. And that’s fine, I don’t have anything to hide, as you already can tell! But it wouldn’t have been this way if I was 16 and pregnant… Damn it!

I received a very generous message this week from a friend and her situation with cancer. I won’t go into the details because it’s not my story to tell but you just don’t realise or appreciate how many people cancer hits. I always knew that she was attacked with the nasty little bugger that is cancer before I even met her, but I can’t help but wonder if she had enough ‘hey, how are you?’s I know her story was before I even knew her but I certainly know I didn’t give enough ‘hey, how are you?’s after. Because although my cancer story will soon be behind me… It never really will be fully gone from my life. That little bugger will always be niggling at the back of my mind.

Every cancer story is personal and different. You could find you have exactly the same cancer as me but that doesn’t mean the situation is the same… Or the treatment for that matter. In my radiotherapy days, as you’re up at the hospital 5 days of the week for it, you start seeing the same people up there. And slowly, as treatment goes on and on and on, you never see them again. You think “they’ve made it!” like it’s some sort of game and that they’ve reached the top level. It’s weird seeing these people everyday at the worst moment of both of your lives, never to see each other again or to never know what happened to them…

There have not been many days where I have been caught up in my emotions and been pleading the “why me?” card but this last week has most definitely and unfortunately been one of those weeks that I have found the most trying. Damn me and my overthinking brain!

 

Some pictures of me and my awesome friends. I wish I took more pictures! Me and my prosecco filled self didn’t even think to capture this day more! 🍾

 

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive!

As I write this post I’ve just had my 3 month post chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy PET/CT scan. Basically the scan that’ll tell me if I’ve kicked cancers big fat hairy butt!
And for the whole day I’ve been pretty chuffed that I can sing Imagine Dragons song Radioactive at the top of my voice and know that it’s true! Well you gotta look at the good side to all this!

I can’t help but feel that this PET/CT scan holds my life in it’s hands more than ever. There’s nothing I can do about the results. What will be will be. I don’t feel like I have cancer anymore but you can never really know. It’ll be a hell of a lot more devastating for me, my family and friends if the results come back that I’m not clear of it. All because I do feel pretty normal again.

Back in January, just 5 lowly months ago, was when I had my first PET/CT scan. It’s hard to believe I’m the same person today. At 5’11” I was 8 1/2 stone, which is just under 54kg. Massively underweight for my height. I was in hospital, not yet fully knowing what I was dealing with… But I’m pretty sure my family did! The sneaky buggers didn’t tell me I was already in a cancer hospital! Haha. Hey, I told you. Before all this I was completely oblivious to cancer! I knew where I was I just didn’t realise it was a cancer hospital.

The PET/CT Scan

So with a PET/CT scan they inject you with some radioactive stuff that goes all round your body and highlights the cancer and any other suspect areas that it may have gone to.

January’s results showed how extensive the cancer was… A 10cm mass and that it was becoming a little bit suspect around my lymph nodes in my stomach region… I wanna call them my illiac nodes? As I said I’m not a doctor but I think that’s what it was.

At this point, although it’s scary knowing how big the cancer is I didn’t care. I was in pain, sleeping most of the day away and barely eating. When you’re in that much discomfort you really don’t care what title it is you’re dealing with. You just wanna feel better. And yeah I had cancer but I always looked at it like it’s cancer, it’s not cancer cancer.

I see cancer adverts these days where they’re telling the actor on screen and they’re devastated. They portray how isolated they feel and how life changing it is and yeah… I can kind of get where they’re coming from but for me, it was never like that. Life goes on.

You don’t want to look so broken to your family all the time. They’re dealing with this as much as you and in a way you could say it’s worse for them. They can’t do anything to help. I slept most of the day away and was in a pretty high drug induced bubble of codeine, oramorph and paracetamol.

How I found out I had cancer

Do you wanna know how I first found out I had cancer? I find it funny but I know my family don’t. They were pretty pissed. Haha.

I had this cancer nurse come round early one morning and gave me a “how to deal with being diagnosed with cancer” leaflet. Turns out this nurse was gonna be my “cancer nurse” I couldn’t stand her… She just wasn’t very good at empathy but tried her hardest, only it turned out being a bit annoying. No… I don’t want to talk about how I’m feeling to you. But thanks.

I just remember getting this leaflet before the doctors had told me and thinking “oh fuck, it is cancer then”. I made a laugh and a joke about it to my mum when she came in but I can tell you she wasn’t best pleased this happened without her there for support and before I had an actual diagnosis!

So yes, today I’m singing radioactive as loud as I can enjoying the fact that it is very relevant to me and revelling in the irony that is my life!