The intervening years have not been good; I've lost both of my parents, my Mom suddenly & unexpectedly to a rare type of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma or bile duct cancer & my Dad a couple of years ago to sepsis & my own health, both physically & mentally has deteriorated to the point where I rarely go out of the flat.
They say cancer changes your life, which it does but rarely for the better.
It ruins marriages and other relationships; it leads to massive financial hardship in many cases; it can end good careers & it forces a lot of us to totally revaluate the things we hold dear to us.
Of course, some good things do come out of it - like making new friendships & meeting people that you may never have thought of before.
Sometimes it can be hard, especially if you are in a position like I am where you are surrounded (even if it is only online) by others who have also been diagnosed & you seen people moving on after their diagnosis & getting some normality back in their lives.
Of course this may often be just what appears on the surface, in reality they may be struggling too but just don't show it. There seems to be this need to portray cancer patients who survive a diagnosis as "hero's" or "thrivers" but if you don't live up to what others, notably family members, think you should be then it can have a serious affect on your mental health.
I've heard from so many women over the years who say they are struggling but won't say anything to close family members because they don't want to worry them so they bottle everything up & just get even more stressed out & then mental issues get worse & worse.
Better mental health support is needed for cancer patients, & it needs to be long term. The fear of a recurrence is never far away. Even after many years it is always lurking at the back of your mind, just waiting for an unexplained ache or pain to occur & then it jumps out of the darkness & starts running riot in your brain.
Quality of life post cancer is important. It is no good surviving cancer if you can't live the rest of your life to the fullest. Maybe asking to live your life as if cancer had never shown its ugly face is asking too much..... but then again maybe not.
So today it is my 57th Birthday. It will be a day like any other, nothing worth celebrating. It's been a very long time since I had anything worth celebrating.
Cancer robs you of so much, but you have to go through it to understand that.