WORLD, please stop… I need to get off.
I want to get off long enough to leave cancer somewhere far, far away – then hop right back on.
I am currently going through a "poor me, life isn't fair" stage.
Why do I have to go through so much sh*t just to stay alive – something most people get to take for granted?
But then, it is to be expected. This week I started yet another new treatment plan of action to try and stem the spread of my bowel cancer.
It's so far invaded my lungs – but we blasted those tumours.
It's wrapped its way around an artery – meaning that one is inoperable.
And last week scans showed it has reared its ugly head in my liver this time.
Time for a new treatment plan
Sitting back in the chair at the Royal Marsden getting ready for my new treatment, I felt sad as the doctors reeled off the potential side effects of the drugs – which includes death!
The chairs on the day unit, where I went through 21 rounds of chemo, just remind me of the uphill struggle I'm still facing – despite a 10 month break from sitting there.
It's a struggle I have no control over.
It's the one my medical team are trying every trick in the book to outsmart, leaving me feeling like a helpless passenger having to use all my mental strength just to drag myself back to that chair.
My two-year milestone is a reminder I shouldn't still be here
This weekend I celebrate (if that's the right word, yes, actually it damn well is the right word) being alive two years after I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Two years after the words, "you have cancer" came crashing into my world.
Two years after I starred my 6.5cm tumour in the face on the screen and suddenly knew the reason I had suffered bleeding, weight loss and sheer exhaustion for six months.
I wasn't going mad, I did have cancer.
Over the last two years my list of operations, chemo, new treatments and other drugs reads like some over-complicated dinner menu.
I've realised I'm stronger than I ever knew
But, two years is a milestone for me. And like any cancer patient, when you reach these milestones it is good to take stock and reflect on how far you have come.
The good, bad, ugly and the heartbreak in between.
And it is important to pat yourself on the back and say, "girl, you are stronger than you ever knew you were".
I've had 'wow' moments – but for every high there's a low
The last two years – especially this last year – are proof of just that. I've had too many "wow" moments to count.
My first book was published, I tasted what it feels like to be in remission, our podcast You, Me And The Big C won an award, I ran a half marathon ten days after having cutting-edge CyberKnife treatment.
But, for every high, there's a low – and this year it's been heartbreaking.
I've watched yet more young friends die from bowel cancer, knowing we were diagnosed at the same time – making me feel even more like I'm a ticking time bomb.
I watched my best pal Rachael Bland die, knowing I too will most likely follow in her footsteps.
It's incredibly hard to deal with, I'm not sure how people do cope.
I've learned a lot… thanks to cancer
I have learned to go easy on myself and tell myself "this is hard, it's tough, so don't beat yourself up".
I often get asked would I change all the things I've done and go back to my old life.
Yes, in an instant.
To not have cancer, to know I have a future, to not have to drag myself to yet more uncertain treatment that just makes me feel rotten, yes.
To know I'll see my kids grow up, yes in a heartbeat. No question, I would do anything for that.
I miss teaching, the community, the solid career that I gave so much to, I loved my job.
I worked at it for 14 years, aiming to be a head teacher. But now, that dream can't come true.
I physically can't continue to teach. I have good days and bad days but they are unpredictable, which doesn't fit the timetable.
Even the most understanding of schools couldn't put up with it, it wouldn't be fair on the kids.
It is strange to know that the line is firmly drawn on that part of my life.
Yes, I would do things differently and make damn sure I knew what's important in life – health, family, finding a balance.
The reality has sunk in, I've had to rip up the career plans and start over.
I have done things I never thought possible
But, it's thanks to cancer that I have discovered I can do things I never thought possible.
In a way I still feel like I'm teaching – just in a completely different way – and the subject matter has changed, now it's cancer.
I've learned the power of saying "yes".
When you get diagnosed with cancer it is natural to want to retreat into a cancer cave – and if that does work for you, brilliant.
But flip it… when you face something new ask yourself, "what's the worst that could happen?".
I'm already facing the worst – death, so I've realised that giving things a go and knowing failure isn't a big deal is actually the best way to live my life.
I've learned the power of just being honest.
Of opening up conversations about things people don't like talking about – death and cancer.
And it's the response to this that has kept me going.
To know that others feel less alone, to know it's normal to want to run away from the world and hide.
I have got used to assuming I won't exist in the future, so I prefer to live in the now, the present, right this moment.
After all, now is all any of us have – it's all we can be certain of.
Life has to go on – and that means cancer does too
Don't get me wrong, that positive outlook is hard to maintain all the time.
Over the last week, after two years of just talking about cancer, I have retreated inwards.
My tolerance for, "how are you?", and "what's the treatment plan?", has hit an all time low.
There is part of me that wishes no one knew I had cancer and my life just went on as it did.
But I know life has got to go on and for me that means cancer will always be there.
So many things to be grateful for
So for now, for the last two years, I am going to be grateful for those people who got me here.
I have to say thank you to people who play such a big part in my life, and allow me to spend one more day alive.
To my medical team for keeping me alive, I literally wouldn't be here without them.
Walking back into the Royal Marsden day unit this week, it felt like going home.
It's not the home I necessarily want, but the team there are amazing.
The nurses know what I'm like, the freak outs, the tears, the nervous shaking.
And each time, they gently take my hand and pull me through.
My oncologist gives me hope, yes we are realistic but I still have options.
And I've said it time and time again, all you want when you have stage 4 cancer is options.
Options give you hope
My hope right now is for a liver resection op – funny to actually hope for major surgery.
But that would be my best chance at long-term survival.
First, we need to stabilise my disease – and to do that we're using a combination of three targeted drugs. It's a new treatment and that itself gives me hope.
Other patients give me hope too, knowing I've got mates in the trenches and that their treatment has worked, makes me think maybe it will for me too.
With that, while sometimes I do want to run and hide, I know cancer will just follow.
So perhaps, I'll just accept my new life and be grateful for everything it gives me, more time with my kids, the chance to meet incredible people, the chance to share my story in the hope it helps one other patient know they're not alone.
So this weekend I will raise a glass to living with cancer for the last two years.
And I will pray that there will be many more milestones, and chances to say yes to new opportunities.
I will pray for my future.
My new book F*** You Cancer is available to buy now – and gives a brutally honest view of what cancer is really like – buy it here now
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