August to November update!
I last blogged on the 30th August which is now 2 months ago, scary how fast that time has gone!
My recovery has continued really well. I’m continuing to ensure I remain healthy with regular exercise multiple times a week heading towards preparing for a 10km race in early December.
Now the dust has somewhat settled on my ‘all clear’ back in June I feel I’m more able to express and go into detail about how I prepared for the weeks/months afterwards and what has happened. Apologies if I am repeating in this post things I said in the last blog post, I find it very difficult to re-read things I have previously written, sorry!
With everything throughout the diagnosis, treatment and recovery I researched online extensively. A really interesting and quite concerning stat I came across that 40-48% of cancer ‘survivors’ experience anxiety or depression ranging from anything quite mild to it manifesting in a very serious form. This stat varies greatly on the type of cancer a person had and the treatment and physical changes that resulted. However I and I’m sure many others would be really surprised at hearing that so many people suffered anxiety and depression AFTER getting the all clear. The joy and jubilation for the days and weeks after the all clear then disappear for a lot of people and they struggle with transitioning to everyday life again. I predict that the 40-48% figure is actually much higher but some people wouldn’t disclose they had these thoughts and feelings for fear of coming across ‘selfish’ that they had been cured yet still weren’t ‘happy’.
From my experience the June – September phase (which I blogged about – very chipper and chuffed!) was really great, the huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I wanted to do everything all at once! No longer having a focus on cancer and everything relating to it was fantastic. I hit the ground running with my health and made it a big priority to get into better shape to help myself physically and mentally. I think THIS was a really big factor in helping. Healthy body, healthy mind certainly applies I think. Dedicate some time and effort into getting back in shape after chemo, I really think this must have helped me in countless ways. For months I had focussed almost solely on my treatment and getting this all important all clear – all of a sudden then transitioning to an everyday life routine (the same as before) was at times quite challenging for myself.
I think I noticed this mainly on my birthday (9thSeptember, I’ll look out for the card and chocs next year 😉 ) that I got a very small taste of the anxiety and ‘low’ mood (I’m not comfortable using the depressed phrase for myself in this circumstance). There were a lot of emotions that day – absolute joy that I was 28, all clear, feeling good and crucially got to go for some really nice food, but there was what I perceived to be anxiety where I found myself asking myself things like ‘I’m 28, nearly 30, have I accomplished enough’ ‘Has the stuff I have done before actually been that important, have I wasted too much time?’ and lots of similar questions, for periods of that day and at times throughout the weeks that followed. What a weird question when I think about it ‘have I wasted too much time’ but I really asked myself this a lot, like I had put some sort of weird countdown clock on my life and that I was turning 98 not 28 – but I think for me I had to overcome the fact I had spent around half of this year somewhat incapacitated and during that time I had spent long periods reflecting on anything and everything up until that point.
I think this ‘anxiety’ could have manifested itself in me had I let it. I set myself quite high standards with lots of things in life and at times this is great but can be a burden (especially being self employed). These phases recurred and are now (I think) almost not at all an issue.
My go to thought process when I had doubts were that whatever I have done up until this point is personal growth. There is no need to judge myself or anything I had done against anything or anyone else, there is no benchmark for success in life. If you enjoy something and want to do it, do it. If you don’t enjoy doing something and you no longer want to do it, don’t do it.
I have been very fortunate that my family and friends around me throughout the process have been very supportive in various differing ways and this has continued through to my recovery, which has just been wonderful.
Everything that has happened previously, has helped shape and craft me out to be the curly haired, 6 foot 4 person that I am today! Most importantly I have my health, with that, as cliché as it sounds (brace for huge cliché) you can accomplish whatever you want and that’s what I’m planning on doing.