Thank you, cancer

So today, January 13th 2019, marks 5 years from when my treatment for Cancer finished.
What a journey it has been. To walk a path as a person who will never be the same again, whose dreams and hopes for the future they had visualised will never be realised. 5 years ago, 13th Jan 2014 when I had my last bout of radiotherapy, and I was truly thankful to be alive. Yes I was still Bep, and although I looked slightly different (shorter hair), I could still smile and convince people that I was fine – I was one of the lucky one’s. Because I knew that was what they needed to hear. They didn’t want to know that I had faced my mortality, that I was scared, that I was craving the return to some kind of normality in my life. I also wanted to forget Cancer, I wasn’t going to be defined by it.

But those wounds run deep. That fear is still present. Today I’m walking the cancer path with others and I see the fear in their eyes, the hope in their heart. The anger that they took so much of their life for granted before Cancer came and stole some of their dreams. The awakening of appreciation for each other, now that a future together isn’t guaranteed.

I believed I was invincible before Cancer, nothing would happen to me, I was the big sister and I would look after everyone before anything could happen to me. The dreaded C word had other idea’s, and to be honest, I am thankful to it for the biggest wake up call of my life. For me to realise ‘I matter’, for me to STOP thinking about how I could look after everyone else first and actually think about what I wanted and needed. This was my second chance.

All I wanted was precious time to enjoy the little things. Time with those who stood by me and helped me find the sunshine in those dark times. Time to redefine what I wanted my legacy to be. Time to slow down and just be. I have learnt some incredible lessons from walking the Cancer path as a patient and as a carer. It has taken my career onto a completely different path, and for that I am truly grateful, as I am now able to serve others in a far more meaningful way.

What saddens me is that we still have a very long way to go to understand the impact of this disease on all the lives it touches. To show kindness and the right support to those who are navigating life after cancer. To know that the wounds run deep and can remain hidden for many years. This is a disease that impacts the mind, body and spirit and everyone is unique in how they respond to it, so please take the time to understand the impact and offer support that is meaningful for the individual, both the patient and the carer, everyone will be affected.

But don’t feel you have to wait to be affected by cancer to appreciate all that you have in your life right now. This is as good as it gets, make your life journey one that you will cherish today and everyday.