When the first one comes around it can often be a time of slight celebration – I made it this far kind of thing. I got through the treatment and I’m still here!!
Then the second one comes around a year later and ok maybe we’re not so much in the mood to celebrate but we still mark the occasion, even if it is only in our minds or maybe even a quick post on social media!
Then we get the third year, the fourth year and then finally we get to the fifth year and if we’re lucky we get the all clear and life can return to some sort of normality without having to worry about check-ups and scans.
That’s if we are lucky. There are a growing number of cancer patients who get left with serious long term side effects from their cancer treatment so being able to draw a line under the cancer experience isn’t a given at all and for those who are unlucky to get a recurrence, it can seem like the line is never going to be drawn.
For those of us living with long term side effects from treatment, it can sometimes feel like the cancer was secondary to the side effects. For me anyway, the lymphoedema, the bowel and bladder issues, the menopause issues, the underactive thyroid, the serious fatigue, the cognitive and memory issues etc have a much more dramatic effect on my quality of life that having cancer did.
Also, very often family and friends get fed up of hearing us talk about cancer all the time. They want us to forget about it and get back to normal (whatever that is!!) So reminding them that it’s 5/6/7/8 years since you were diagnosed sometimes doesn’t go down too well!!
They can’t see that what for them was maybe a minor inconvenience in their lives (having to forgo holidays or days out due to you having treatment etc or having to take time off work to look after you) was a very major thing for us to try and deal with and sometimes being able to count the days /months/years since then can help us to deal with it.
But there has to come a time when we have to draw that line in the sand and say I’m over it now – I want to look forward and not back.
It’s proving difficult for me to do that at the moment at just over 7 years since my treatment ended but hopefully I will soon be able to draw a line and move on.
I hope you are able to do the same too.