Three years ago, in a different lifetime, the word cancerversary wasn’t in my vocabulary. Now, it is even in the dictionary on the editing programme I use.
On the 29th March, three years ago, I had my hysterectomy to remove the tumour and all cancerous growth.
Regular readers know I don’t remember the date I was told I had cancer. However, I remember the date I had my surgery so have made that my cancerversary.
I’m pretty sure the day I got my diagnosis was a Thursday. Pretty sure; it could have been Wednesday, too. I had my surgery the following week, which means I got the diagnosis on the 21st or the 20th.
I don’t remember because it all happened so fast and frankly was a bit of a headfuck.
Within just over a week, I learnt I had cancer, had a date for my surgery, and was told by Dr Gloom that I had a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.
It was only after the surgery that I had time to process things.
I also had time to Google things. Big mistake.
I hadn’t asked many questions when I had my pre-surgery meeting with Dr Doom. I think my brain was just too all over the place. So while I was recovering from the surgery and waiting for my next appointment with Dr Doom, I asked Google.
And convinced myself that I would not need chemo or radiotherapy because for stage 1 womb cancer, hysterectomy is usually enough.
Had I been in a more comprehending state when I discussed the surgery with Dr Doom, I would have expected the news that I needed chemo and radiotherapy. He told me the cancer had spread to some lymph nodes. Hysterectomy alone only works when the cancer hasn’t spread.
Since I was convinced I’d be done with cancer after the hysterectomy, finding out I needed chemo and radiotherapy hit me like death sentence volume II.
Cue lots more Google searches on the side-effects and planning my funeral and heartfelt goodbyes. But in the end one thought prevailed: “I will get through this.”
And looking back on my third cancerversary, I cannot help but be grateful for the journey my diagnosis sent me on.
It was the catalyst that made me take responsibility for my life. My life has changed so much since the diagnosis.
I would most likely still be teaching, wanting to get out of education, but unable to find a way out. Feeling stuck in my job because of the decent salary and London’s high rents. I doubt we would have cycled across Europe and be planning more bicycle tours. Neither would we have moved to Finland or have plans for our own charity.
I cannot feel angry about cancer. I cannot even feel angry about living with Lynch Syndrome.
If ever I lose sight of my goals, I only have to think about how close I came to never realising my dreams to refocus. It reminds me to thank the Lord for another day.
So, here’s to the journey and the lessons it gave me. Here’s to making every day count and living our best lives.
Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.