Above the door as you enter the gym it says “Don’t look back, you are not going that way”. I seized that quote with both hands and a full heart as I embraced making changes to my life after having breast cancer 2 years ago. It seemed to epitomise everything I was striving for, and gave me a full beam focus on the life I wanted to lead rather than the what had been going on before.
Not that life had been in the least unhappy before, but we all find ourselves spending too much time doing things that we don’t enjoy, just because they have become a routine in our lives, or we feel obligated in some way to continue to do them. I made a conscious effort to remove from my life most of the things that caused me stress or displeasure in some way. For instance I stopped my online business because most of the time I was processing orders, refilling stock, dickering with the website etc. None of those things brought me happiness. Sharing my knowledge and experience did, inspiring creativity in others did, so I wanted to concentrate on that aspect instead.
I was moving forward, getting fitter and healthier, happier and more creative because of the life choices I began to make. Not looking back, I was not going that way.
10 days ago I found myself tossed out of that happy place into a seething ocean of fear and unhappiness for myself, but mostly for my husband and family. Those of you on Facebook know this already, but my triple negative breast cancer has returned. Not in my breast but as shed loads of metastases spread throughout my liver and lungs. This is most definitely not a good place to be. The cancer will never be cured, and the chances of holding it at bay are not high either. The nature of this particular cancer is a nasty one, and I am already a statistical outlyer just having it come back the way it did.
There is hope that the proposed treatment will keep it at bay for a while, but how long that while is, no one knows. I am not being gloomy, just realistic. You can’t fight it, but you can deal with it and try to live life as well as you possibly can. I am a hugely positive person, and I have taught myself to see blue skies where many see only cloud. That will not change. But this time around it is different to the first time. I had a chance of cure the first time. I know that is not possible now, but neither does it mean there is no hope. I am telling you this to try to help you understand that advanced metastatic cancer is a very different beast to a primary operable tumour. It requires different thinking on my part, and massively so for my husband and family.
In order to cope with all this, we decided to make this second unwanted part of my cancer journey public. Not only in the hope that my experiences and ways of living with it might help others who are subsequently diagnosed, but also because each stage we go through puts us in a different place emotionally. We don’t want to have to go back to an earlier place to explain once again what is happening. If we tell you all now and as it unfolds, we can face the future together and not look back, because we don’t want to go that way. Our only way is forward. The path is fragile and unknown, and of undetermined length. But that is where we are going, and I am very glad I have you all on this journey with us.
I promise only to share the uplifting bits. Your good wishes and support helped me immeasurably last time, kept my spirits from flagging in the depths of darkest chemo-land. This time it is my family that need the support too. You can face almost anything for yourself, but watching as pain is being inflicted on the ones you love, is almost unbearable. And it is me that is doing the inflicting. It is me that is causing the pain. I can’t stop that from happening, and my helplessness on that front is probably the hardest thing emotionally I am trying to deal with.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your support as we tread the unknown path ahead.