So, this is a post that I never thought would get written.
I always try to project positivity in every thing that I do. In fact, I even ‘managed’ telling online folk about my cancer super carefully as I was worried about upsetting people with a “Cancer lol” status update (yes, I have seen one of these!) – I appreciate the image that people hopefully have of me, and that I’m considered thoughtful and straight-down-the-line as it were. I’m a simple guy like that – I hate smoke and mirrors.
However, throughout my cancer diagnosis and treatment I’ve been told that I’ve been dealing with it so well, and that somehow this makes me brave. To be clear, I didn’t sign up for brain cancer and I’d have run a thousand miles in the opposite direction if I could have. Brave are the friends and relatives who face it with you, never letting you fall by the wayside, despite knowing there may be a terminal timeframe on your relationship with that person. Ultimately, dying isn’t brave – being there and going through it, now that must be worse than anything that I, or the majority of other Cancer patients have gone through. All I have to do is show up and get spoilt rotten, unfortunately, and it’s this I hate most, it’s the loved ones whom this disease takes it’s toll upon.
Essentially just because I put a ‘brave’ public face on it, but I really don’t want anyone to think it’s a wishy-washy disease that isn’t ‘that bad’. To be clear, this is a foul disease, striking so many people, so many friends and families, turning lives upside down. I hate Cancer. Yes, I’m in the ‘reasoned-but-angry’ phase after many months of placid acceptance.
Do you know what I hate at the moment? I’m afraid of dying before I fulfil all that I set out to fulfil, and the impact of the loss on my partner at any time after, everything he has done for me (I cannot even begin to say how much!). You automatically think a lot about death after a cancer diagnosis and, until recently, it’s really not bothered me. There, I said it. I know that sounds bloody selfish and stupid, especially when I currently hold a tentative ‘all clear’ – but this is the poison. I’m well, I have an MRI scan on Friday now things have ‘tidied up’ post-surgery, and miraculously I’m making a super swift recovery from the surgery/radiotherapy – so why am I now so worried?
Anxiety is a common ‘side effect’ of a cancer diagnosis and one all too easily dismissed in my opinion. Yes, it’s healthy to have fears about mortality – certainly don’t bottle them up, but at the same time you have to master how not to let them control you. I think the wrong message often gets sent out and anxiety gets an unfair rap sheet!
This condition has affected my mobility, my speech, some of my friendships and, of course, my home life.
All of this is a little bit hard to quantify in that simple but genuine question that we’re all guilty of asking “Are you alright?”. I’ve been asked that question a lot today, which has been lovely and genuine. Unfortunately, for once, I was unprepared for the question, despite being asked it more than 20 times – so instead of a well-balanced and prepared answer each time, I just shrugged my shoulders and made a funny tired noise, time and time again. – an honest and not pre-planned answer.
I’m incredibly happy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be fired up about cancer – sometimes, perhaps like you’re doing now, you’re searching the web and you come across my post and hey, all you want to hear is someone agree that cancer is shitty (but that you can get over it – just don’t let it consume you. Stay positive!).
PS – Yes, the cover doodle on this post is from the HeadSmart brain cancer campaign.