Did anyone watch The C Word on BBC 1 last night? I couldn’t wait to watch it and see Lisa Lynch’s inspiring story portrayed so well by the amazing actress Sheridan Smith! Watching her story made me think how much I wish I had shared more about my Cancer story to help others. So Lisa you have inspired me to write this post!
In 2011 I was diagnosed with Cancer, yup the big C word! I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 1a which was in my neck, you can see in the picture below my neck about a month after surgery.
This was myself with 3 of my best friends a few weeks after diagnosis and a couple of weeks before chemo was going to start. I remember feeling 100% healthy and saying to the girls how I was standing there with them with Cancer.
As you can see in the pic above my hair was long and knowing it would fall out I took the step to get it cut shorter as like a gradual step.
So my chemo started towards the end of July I think it was and I was told my hair would propbably fall out after a week or so and at the lastest day 21. Chemo world is all talked about in days and cycles. Everyday after my first chemo i was constantly waiting on my hair falling out, I kept my hair in a ponytail and avoided washing it at all costs for fear it would come out in my hands in the shower. I had aleady went and picked out my wig so I was a little hyped on the novelty of it. So I remember I think it was a Saturday morning I came down to mum and said thats it I can control nothing when it comes to Cancer so I am taking the lead and deciding that I want my head shaved so I control when I lose my hair! I have to say going to the shop where I got the wig and asking to take the scissors and just hack at my hair before they shaved it was the most empowering thing EVER!!!! Ps never mind it will fall out by day 21, this was day 56 when I shaved mine off.
So that’s me with my hair shaved, I have to say I did really love it, weirdly for the first time in my life I looked a bit like my brother and I swear it made me look skinnier . . . Total bonus!!!
This is me in August with my wig on and if you look closely on my left arm (the arm on your the right in the picture) you can see the white material/bandage covering my pic line (where I had bloods regularly taken and where my chemo was given). This was really the only give away I was sick and somthing I did find hard trying to cover up with nice outfits for nights out.
At this stage only very close friends and family knew I had Cancer and was going through chemo and only about 10 of these people max had seen me with my wig off, or as I called it at the time ‘the rat’, I hated wearing it when I had to and had no choice, having to use it to hide behind. Hiding because I didn’t want people talking about me and staring, Cancer also brought with it it’s friends anxiety, depression and paranoia. So I was really paranoid that people knew it was a wig and could tell. Also I didn’t know what way to tell people, so I uploaded pictures from a short break away where I didn’t wear my wig to my Facebook and let it all go from there. Doing this again was my chance to take control and was a total weight off my mind. And so funny to see the true and genuine people and those fake people, espcially the people who used to bitch about you but then deciced to be all fake and give me pity. And pity is one thing someone with Cancer doesn’t want! And cancer doesn’t change you in the way that someone who didn’t like you before will now like you. Yes it’s brought me fear, anxiety, depression and anxiety but it hasn’t changed the main me!
So I went through chemo from July to November 2nd 2011 and in January 2012 I got the all clear. During this time and after I have been through so much, so much that I don’t have the time to get it all down on here but inspired by Lisa Lynch and Sheridan Smith’s portrayal of her and her story in The C Word I thought I would share 20 things about Cancer people never tell you.
1. You don’t always need to have chemo and radiotherapy, I met people who had the all clear after the operation only.
2. Chemo constipates you and you get piles and I have to say for me it was the most painful and worse bit of going through Cancer treatment.
3. Everyone’s Cancer experice is different, i.e. chemo doesn’t always leave you throwing up.
4. You don’t always lose your hair.
5. Unless you have been through it you will never know the exhaustion that comes with chemo, some describe it as trying to run through tar.
6. Not everyone will be nice to youuuu, people will say horrible things.
7. Even on your rest week when you are feeling well Cancer will steal your independence, scared to leave the house or do things alone.
8. You see things about Cancer everywhere and realise you are in a majority rather than a minority of people now.
9. It isn’t the chemo that makes you ill, the chemo makes all your cells jump and move around and that’s what causes the sickness.
10. You don’t have to konw everything about what’s happening to you, I preferred to be in the dark about things and my family wanted to know, but I had the right not to be told about what was going to happen and side effects etc.
11. People still smoke outside Cancer wards and units.
12. The smell of food and especially really strong perfume will turn the life out of you!
13. Cancer units aren’t like they look in films and on tv.
14. Cancer nurses are angels!
15. Your patience will get pushed to the MAX, waiting to see doctors, waiting for tests, waiting for your chemo to be made, waiting for appointments. You spend more time waiting than getting treatment.
16. You will figure out your true friends and you will find people will look at you with pity, or stop talking to you, or not know what to say to you or feed off the attention they will get for konwing someone with caner!
17. You will become obsessed with routine as it will be the only thing you can control.
18. Cancer is lonely becuase unless you talk to someone else wth Cancer or who has been through it before no one else will understand. No matter how close you are to people to protect them you will never admit to being scared. The loneliest time is at night when everyone is asleep and you can’t sleep.
19. Cancer brings fear, for me I am always scared that it is going to come back, it’s like that little niggle you get in the back of your head reminding you you have to do something or you have forgotten something.
20. You will laugh and joke about Cancer in ways that are frowned upon but only other Cancer fighters or survivors will understand and laugh and joke about too.
21. Trying to get travel insurance will be a bastard!
22. Having no hair even the summer is cold, wolly hats, especially in bed are the best thing EVER!
23. Wigs are the hottest things ever and will leave you sweating the bit out!
24. For girls the bonus is you don’t have to shave and you will probably get a break from your periods, mine did but they also came back again. At the time I went through chemo there was no option to get my eggs frozen so there could be a chance I’ve been left infertile. But as I said no one ever knows if they are fertile or not until they try to get pregnant so it’s a bit of fate really.
25. People will be too scared to ask questions.
On that note I am opening up my blog for people to ask questoins and not be judged. Let’s make Cancer and chemo less of a taboo. So what do you want to know? there are no silly questions and I wil answer them all as honestly as I can, so it’s over to you, ask away! 🙂