4th March 2020

So this isn’t where I intended to be!  The last 3 months have been a little interesting it’s fair to say.

At 39, I wasn’t expecting to be diagnosed with bowel cancer.  I wasn’t expecting to have half my bowel whipped out and I wasn’t expecting to be having 6 months of chemotherapy.  But hey ho, here we are!

My head is, to be honest, a bit of a mess and I’m still coming to terms with things.  My hope in writing this isn’t really to try and make sense of things, as I’m not sure cancer ever does make sense, but maybe to find some way through this mess and come out the other side with a little bit more mental clarity.

On the up side, I know a whole lot more about bowels, cancer and treatments than I did before November’s excitement (realising now that my generalist GP knowledge was somewhat limited to say the least)!

There are, I have come to realise, a whole host of labels bandied about in the world of cancer and it’s made me question what I “am”.

I know that I am NOT…

…A cancer sufferer, or a survivor.  Nor have I been battling cancer.  I am NOT a fighter, I am NOT particularly brave.

I’m just me…

…A 39 year old mother of three beautiful children. A wife, a daughter, a sister, a GP (and now unfortunately a patient), who loves her job.  And likes to run, and swim, and cook, and quilt, and sing, and take photographs…

…who just happened to be diagnosed with bowel cancer.

I’m a slightly different “me” now and I guess I’m never going to be the same old “me” because cancer does that.

In this process I lost half my bowel and gained an extra dimension, the cancer dimension.  I guess we all did – me and the family.

Because coming home with a cancer diagnosis is a little bit like coming home with an extra family member (a fairly crappy one at that).  We can try and pretend it doesn’t exist, but there is no “return to sender” option.  We are now a family of 5+1.

Everything is different, yet to look from the outside it would appear as if nothing has changed. I look no different.  You don’t lose your hair with bowel cancer chemo.  Everyone tells me I look really well.

Yet it affects everything.  Every decision we make.  Every discussion we have – spoken, or unspoken, it’s there, always a consideration. 

Even though it is “gone”.  The “what ifs” are always there.

And the funny thing is, the knowledge of “having” cancer was so ridiculously short.  For me it was 17 days from diagnosis to surgery (even if it had been there for a whole lot longer…). 

I went down to theatre with cancer and came back without it.

But I am still reeling 3 months on. 

The impact was huge.  It was like a bomb went off.   The disaster response team were deployed.   Everyone did what they needed to do.  And now the disaster response team have packed up and left the scene.

And we are picking up the pieces and carrying on with life.  Life as normal.  Or as normal as it can be… off work and on chemo.

I’m angry.  I’m frustrated.  I’m more than a little bit scared about the future to be honest.

And I’m not in control of this situation…and I don’t particularly like how this feels.  I thought I was pretty good at dealing with uncertainty…hmmmmm!

And yet I have so much to be grateful for.  And hopeful about.

So this is what I need to work through.

Life goes on.

And I just need to keep cracking on with it. 😊

Cancer – the extra dimension

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5 thoughts on “Cancer – the extra dimension

  1. Excellent approach Claire and I beg to differ I think you are very brave. We your friends are at a loss of what to say If near you can offer a hug from afar only words but hope they help in some small way

  2. I’m not sure if we’ve ever met (through Jess) but I ask after you when I chat to her and my heart breaks for you with what you’re having to go through x I also think you are brave, brave to write this blog, brave to not have just curled up in a ball and hidden from the world and brave to share how you feel.xx

  3. Keep on cracking on Claire, the disaster responders may have come and gone, but the fall out responders are and will always be around xxx

  4. You are incredibly brave Claire, brave enough to talk about what is happening and how you feel. I know exactly how shocking and frightening this is but the one thing you haven’t mentioned is your positivity. That’s the thing that has always stood out in your text messages and when we meet up. I know you’re scared but your also determined to fight this, it shows in what you say, how you’ve coped with this and how you’ve let others in to help you. You were an absolute rock when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have been a true friend to me and, as I promised, I will always be to you. You are also going to be that to many others who have bowel cancer. Keep writing the blog and I’ll see you soon xx

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