So today is the start of the firsts…
A year ago today was the first day we went to the GP and demanded an X-ray. Getting told off for booking an emergency appointment. Being questioned as to why I wanted him to have an X-ray and only being given one to shut me up.
From today onwards it will be full of many firsts. First chemo, first general anaesthetic, first hospital stay, first London appointment. It’s endless.
I haven’t wrote a blog in a while, as I’ve been taking some time out of life to focus on my mental health and well-being.
I knew this was coming and I have prepared myself for the emotional impact it will have.
Or I thought I have.
Turns out, you can never prepare yourself.
I’m still sad. So sad.
I’m still angry.
I’ve been told by many that they are worried about me. I have been told through people that they are concerned I’m having a break down. I have been told I am being supported. Which is useless, unless you are actually supporting me. Ironic really.
Supporting me and telling me you’re supporting me are two very different things.
One is for your benefit, the other is for mine.
Take a minute to think about which one you are.
One whole year has passed, but it only seems like yesterday we were told the news that changed us all forever.
But despite the emotional impact tomorrow’s date is having on me, I feel in a really good place.
The time I have taken to look after my mind is paying off. The hours of counselling have helped me feel calmness again, after a year of chaos.
Last Christmas, I was beyond terrified. I didn’t dare think forward to this Christmas, because I didn’t know what it would be like. I have never cried as much as I cried in that first week. It’s my main memory of it.
I have reflected a lot lately on the year passed and how it affected me.
I have learnt that I use detachment as a coping mechanism. I saw the treatment plan as a challenge- a game. It was just a target that we had to reach and to get there we had to jump through all these weird hoops.
That’s why I didn’t cry when he rung the bell or when we were told he is NED. I was still detached from it all.
But this weekend everything changed.
I went to London where it all began. I walked the same streets that were home to me for nearly a year. I stood outside the hospital and spoke about my experiences, the sounds, the smells, the routine. I looked up at the 11th floor, seeing the view from a different angle in more ways than one.
It was closure.
I felt contentment.
And I cried.
It felt exhausting but liberating all rolled into one. Like a tidal wave of emotions that I had stored away for a year, locked away in the fear that if I let myself feel, it would consume me.
But it didn’t.
I felt empowered yet weak all at the same time. It was surreal.
I went with one of my best friends who just let me talk. Let me waffle on about the expensive pharmacy who ripped me off for both hot water bottles and fans in the opposite seasons, really listened and asked questions about the treatment, my feelings, my worries.
Who stopped me in my tracks before we got there, looked me in the eye and said “What do you need from me” and for that, a simple thank you will never be enough.
I needed to be listened to not just heard.
Now, I know tomorrow will be hard, I know the next few months will also have their hard days but I know that I have overcome so so much and come out of it a better person. So I know I will be ok.
Yes, I am still scared and no, that probably won’t be the first time I will cry over the situation, but that is more than OK to me.
I am in control of the situation now, something that I haven’t been up until now.
And it feels incredible.