Experts tell us to connect with our feelings; to live in the moment. I’m a great believer in the concept when it comes to celebration and achieving milestones.
There’s nothing like marking an occasion and being in the moment of satisfaction when a job is done. In times of protracted sadness or personal challenges, I believe that the only way to get through it is to take one day at a time. It means focusing on the mundane events in your life and pausing your mind.
As we go through life, we learn to recognise the feeling of being overwhelmed and, more importantly if we are lucky, we find ways of dealing with it. The psychoanalyst might encourage you to peel back the layers and find out what is really the problem. A sensible granny might say, “Stop for a moment and take three deep breaths!” A concerned friend might suggest sitting down and having a chat.
I’ve had serious trauma over the past eight months. I’m sure my family and friends are well sick of having to hear about my cancer ailments and worries. I find myself not wanting to talk about it and I end up talking about it anyway.
The whole saga consumes my thoughts. Then I feel guilty for turning the conversation to my own situation. Health problems, whether big or small, can take over your life and each situation is personal. Sometimes, recovery just takes time. It comes down to feeling out of control and I wish to feel organised, busy and in control again.
Since February last, my life has been punctuated by hospital stays and consultant appointments. My focus was on the next appointment as I certainly didn’t want to miss one and waste my precious time and that of medical personnel.
I have been so grateful for my private medical insurance. There are a lot of things we would forfeit before letting that go. The premiums are expensive, but when you need a lot of care, it suddenly becomes very worthwhile and delivers peace of mind.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve had a few medical appointments and good news. I’ve had a CAT scan of my thorax and abdomen and both scans were clear. I never take a clear scan for granted. It is the gift of science to doctors and surgeons that can design treatment and target therapy to specific places in the body. A clear scan means there is nothing untoward visible to the eye.
Dr Deirdre O’Mahony, my oncologist, explained that if scientists could detect cancer at a cellular level, then treatment would be more successful.
Instead scans are used to pick up cancer in its early stages and treatment ensues. She explained that there is no guarantee that the cancer would not come back – but it may not! She encouraged me to build back my strength, exercise, recover from chemotherapy and eat and drink all things in moderation.
The surgeon who excised the tumour, Prof James Clover, also did a lot of talking and explaining. One point we forget is that treatment is finite and while doctors might want to throw “the kitchen sink” at you to cure an illness, they do need to keep some things in reserve in their toolbox of treatments in case of reoccurrence. None of us want to think about that, but doctors must. Frank discussion about results has been a hallmark of my treatment and I’ve really appreciated the engagements.
So, I am once again cancer-free. I will be scanned every three months for at least two years. The interval will stretch gradually after that.
I’ve been to the physiotherapist and the movement in my arm and shoulder area is really improving.These last two weeks ought to have been cathartic and I should be on top of the world, but I’m not! I find myself a bit numb and unable to embrace the feelings of relief I should be feeling. I know that I’ve been extremely lucky. I’ve had the very best of care in hospital and at home.
My family are relieved that the crisis is over. I wonder why I feel like this. The answer probably is that my treatment has taken its toll. I’ve collected more baggage and I haven’t worked out yet how to store it and move on.