The Good Life (nearly 3 years after chemo)

So three years ago, this is what I was blogging about: wigs,coping with losing my hair to chemo, celebrating that I just had my fifht round of treatment, my frustration at not being able to do chemo on time and my stay at the hospital due to being neutropenic. You can read it all here.

Three years on and my life (and hair after chemo!) looks quite different that it did then. For one I have moved back home to Barcelona, best decision ever. I have met a wonderful man and a great dog, who are now my family and who make me oh! so very happy. I have an exciting job. I am finishing my PhD. And I am hoping to have children in the future. In short: I like my life.

So while this is great and lovely, it is also terrifying. It appears sometimes that the happier I am the more fearful I become of my cancer coming back. For those who have had cancer, you know how much of a life changing experience it is. Emotionally it wrestles you to the ground, it makes you re-asses your values your priorities and it can often push you to the limit. It brings home how fragile life really is. It confronts you with death. From a practical point of view, don´t even get me started: hospital appointment after hospital appointment after…well you get the point.Your day to day life and routine may also significantly change, being absent from work, not being able to go to the gym or losing (some) of your social life. And the thing i that I love my life and I hate the idea that cancer may come back and take this away from me. Please cancer, stay away.

And this is what I have been up to since my last post in June and what my hair after chemo looks like, nearly 3 years on from treatment. This is why I am happy.

Raoul and I did the anual 10k run in our neighbourhood

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My little brother (yes brother, not nephew) is growing up so fast. He is simply gorgeous.

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I did the women´s race in Barcelona, along with my friend Vicky who makes the cutest plushies and many other things over at Anda Panda. Big fan of her work.

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One of my best mates came to visit over from London. Friends are the best. Particularly Fausto.

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Aby loves being on my lap. And I love her being on my lap. What you call a win-win situation.

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And last but not least, the man and dog who help me through my darkest moments. Meet the family.

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Originally posted on Hair growth after chemo:

How do you go from here…

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to here?

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With a lot of patience and just as much humour!

ps. this post is 3 months overdue ;-)

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And then then it wasn’t cancer

Just like a year and a half ago I wrote a post titled “And then it was cancer” I am happy to be calling this one “And then it wasn’t cancer”. Yes, you read it right, the fucker turned out to be nothing!!!

Despite the toughness of this little cancer trip I have learned something positive from it:  not all lumps turn out to be cancer. This was the only experience I had so far, the first and only lump I have ever found on my breast was cancerous. This doesn’t mean that if I find I lump I’ll be less worried or upset, but that when people tell me “it may be nothing” I will believe that yes, it is true, it can be nothing. Just like this second time round.

No man’s land

Today is the day that I go back to hospital, not for treatment and not for a regular check-up, but to have a lump, the fucker as I have named it, felt by my doctor. As you can imagine, I am dreading it. It´s not so much that I do not look forward to it, as in a strange way I do. I want to be closer to knowing what the hell this thing on my chest is. However, I am so conscious that knowing could change my life drastically, once again.

The first time it all happened I was planning to move back home, after breaking up with my long-term boyfriend and getting to the end of my PhD funding. We had given notice for our flat, I was going to spend half my summer in London and half in Barcelona, where I would  carry on writing up my thesis and settle. And then cancer happened and all my wonderful plans came to a halt.

This time round I have found the fucker also at a time when I am planning changes in my life. But now, unlike he first time it happened, when I was planning without knowing about a lump,  I am very conscious that it all may change . So every time I am talking about the move to my new flat in the centre of town, or talking about finding a job, there is always that thing at the back of my mind, a little voice that tells me “all these plans may have to be re-drawn”.  And I cannot help but engage in some internal dialogue in which “what ifs” are discussed.

“what if it’s cancer?”

This is one of the first questions I ask myself. And you know what? if it is cancer I will deal with it once again, just like a did. And if I have to do chemo I will do it once again, just like I did. I am no longer fearing a breast cancer recurrence. My biggest fear is secondary breast cancer, just like when it first happened. That is, when the cancer has spread elsewhere in your body and there is no cure. I do not wanna be given an estimated time to my death.

So at the moment I feel like I am in a thin line, one that separates “cancer free life ” from “cancerous life” and I am just waiting to see which way I am tipped over. I live in no man’s land.

And there was another lump

“I found a room in a flatshare!

“Oooooh”

“And I also found a lump on my breast”

This is how I broke the news to the first friends I saw on my first visit to London after moving back home to Barcelona.  Yes, because after all my cancer treatment was done and dusted I was finally able to get on with the move that the cancer prevented me from doing.

And for the past 3 months I have been enjoying the Mediterranean weather, eating lovely food, spending time with friends and family and generally being happy. I have now found a room in a beautiful flat in the centre of town, and I am so excited about it. BUT, the cancer threat has come back to put an overcast on all my plans. I am back to that horrible time when you find a lump and you have to get it tested to find out what it is. I can’t believe that just 18 months later I am back here.

It was the day I was coming to London that I found the “fucker”, as I want to refer to it from now on.  I was packing away,  when, I don’t know how, I noticed a little hard lump on my chest wall, near the breast where I had no cancer. Of course I went white, I didn’t know what to do. Should I call someone? I composed myself, finished packing and got on with the trip. Of course, tears came flooding as I was sitting in the train station cafe (after missing my train). And then again on my train trip.  And then again on different occasions during the last few days.

It is so strange, to be back in the city where it all happened with another lump on my breast. Of course,  I am bracing myself for the worse. After all, once upon a time I had a lump and everyone around me said “it will probably be nothing” and then it was something. It was cancer. Why should it be different this time?

Lots more hair growth!

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