Hello Cancer Hello Life

Subject: Hello Cancer Hello Life
From: The Fighter
Date: 11 Jan 2018

Well well well, where do I start. I'll skip the niceties I think and get on with what I've come here to say. I was going to write about the chaos and frustration you have brought in to my life along with the fear and heartbreak, but then again I'm sure you've heard all of that before, so I took a step back and thought again about what else you have brought in to my life.

As I sit here in isolation after taking my radioactive iodine treatment I have had plenty of time to assess and think about what I have learnt about this whirlwind experience that I've been swept up in over the past few months.

I have learnt that I am stronger than I thought. Even though everyone tells you this because it's one of those cliché make the cancer patient feel better lines, I have come to appreciate that even though I had no choice in the matter, I have faced the good the bad and the ugly of it all and come out the other side to date.

I have learnt to be on my own (due in part to isolation) and truly accept myself for who I am. I have spent so much of my life comparing myself to others and feeling shameful about my body and envious of others, not seeing the wood for the trees as it were, but now I can see and understand more clearly, that nothing in this world is ever perfect, no one will ever be 'whole' as it were, we were born curious beings from the day we held our hands to clutch the finger of our loved ones and we'll continue to seek out what makes us feel lighter, brighter and happier.

My body has served me well throughout your invasion and held guard as best it could. When I got the diagnosis I felt I had slipped, let myself down, even though I have always lived a healthy lifestyle and done what I thought was best for my body, I now realise I should have just enjoyed the cake when it was offered and stayed in bed when I felt like it, because taking care of your body means not berating yourself for not being 'perfect' and letting it feel the joys of rest and nourishment.

I have learnt that blood really is thicker than water and your family are so important and not to be taken for granted. I figured I had learnt this lesson when my mother was visited by you twice before, once in the lung and then in the brain. When she managed to show you the road I knew I had to make the most of the time I could spend with her and let her know how much she means to me....but I gave little thought to my father, brothers or sister. I have felt so much love and support from every member of my family throughout this experience, and dare I say it, the barriers that were there before are no longer and we have been brought closer together. So thank you for that.

I have learnt the truth of the phrase that friends are the family you choose and each one will bring something different to your life. Some will be there to hold you up along the way, some will be there to make you laugh and smile even when you don't feel like it, and others will just be there for you. You also learn to separate the imposters from the genuine and that's a valuable lesson.

I have learnt that the word 'should' needs to be banished from the English Dictionary, I'm sick n tired of the media, people in general and myself telling me I 'should' do this and I 'should' do that and if I do I will be happier and healthier. The truth of the matter is that we all know what will make us healthier and happier and we don't need anyone telling us how to be. Sometimes you just need to 'be' and that's plenty.

I have learnt to be grateful for all that I have in this life. It is only when you are 'face down in the arena' as Brené Brown puts it, that your rose coloured spectacles fall off and you can clearly see the struggles people face day in and day out and you learn to value what you have. The thing I value most as I sit in this room with sealed windows, is the comfort that nature brings and the simple pleasures of taking a walk in the fresh air.

I have a lot more to learn from you and I no that it's a journey I have yet to hang up my boots from, but if there's one vital lesson I have taken from all of this, it is that life is for living and in the word's of John O'Donoghue "Just as the darkness brings rest and release, so the dawn brings awakening and renewal".


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