I heard them on 23rd Dec 2009 via a telephone call from my Gynaecologist. I was alone in the flat at the time and he had rung to tell me the results of an MRI scan that I’d had a few weeks previously to determine the number and size of fibroids that had been diagnosed a few months back.
I don’t remember ending the call; I went into shock. I laid on the bed and cried myself to sleep.
It was 6 days before I could get an appointment to see my GP and I was told that I was booked in for a hysterectomy at the end of January.
The following 6 months were hard. Surgery came and went. My Gynaecologist and Surgeon both said they were 99.9% sure they could remove all the cancer and I wouldn’t need further treatment – but unfortunately pathology results said otherwise and I ended up having chemotherapy and then external radiotherapy. My last day of treatment was on 12th July 2010 – 5 days before my 47th Birthday.
Getting a cancer diagnosis changes your life for ever. Some people are able to turn the negative into a positive and embrace the change, taking their life after cancer into a totally new direction. Doing the things they had always wanted to do but had always put off – like travelling the world or learning to skydive or climb mountains.
For some of us however, the changes remain negative. Cancer has ruined my life. It crept in and destroyed everything. Treatment did not make things better and let me get on with my life. It has left me with long term side effects that now control my life. I can no longer do the things I used to enjoy – like taking long walks along the beach or going camping. Even getting up and going out to do mundane things like the shopping is a struggle.
Long term health problems, often caused as a result of the treatment, mean that quality of life is low for many patients after their treatment has ended and try as we might to return to some sort of normality it is often very hard.
Help and support for cancer patients with long term health problems is very patchy across the UK and for those living in isolated or rural communities it can be non-existent. There are some very good local support groups and organisations out there who do help and support patients, but very often patients don’t know about these services because GP’s and the NHS don’t pass on the information. There needs to be co-ordinated nationwide NHS services to help these patients so they are not left alone to struggle with day to day living.
Getting a cancer diagnosis is bad enough but having to live the rest of your life with the long term side effects of treatment is a daily struggle and quality of life can be very poor.
So, 6 years on from the day of that phone-call my life has changed dramatically. Cancer has left me angry. Angry at my body for turning against me. Angry at the people who treated me for not telling me about all the possible side effects and consequences of my treatment. Angry at being left with no support. Angry that my husband, who has his own health issues to deal with, has had to look after me for the past 6 years and as a consequence his own health is even worse. Angry that people assume that once you have finished treatment you are ok and “back to normal”. Angry that cancer took my Mom from me suddenly 2 years ago and there was nothing I could do.
Most of all, I am angry that I am angry. I can’t let the anger go. It’s there every day when I wake up and struggle to get out of bed; a constant reminder that my life has changed forever.
No one prepares you for life after cancer – no one tells you that things will never be the same again.
xx Kaz xx