I haven’t cried since they told me my Cancer is malignant. Not Once. I haven’t even felt the slightest bit down. I’ve had this strong positive attitude that many of you have called admirable or inspirational. Well, I’m afraid that hard exterior may be starting to crumble. Perhaps it’s the magnitude of my diagnosis sinking in. Perhaps it’s just a moment of weakness. But right now, I am upset, confused and uncertain of how I should be feeling.
Today I sought help, based on advice from my MacMillan nurse, to seek financial advice from a specialist Cancer support centre called Maggies. They have them dotted around the country. To seek financial advice, whilst I’m struggling along on statutory sick pay, seemed the strong and practical thing to do. It was an action that would match my attitude so far.
If I’m honest, I expected a small stuffy room full of old people in rocking chairs who’d given up hope. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A huge water feature lead me down the garden path to a building that resembled something that should only be seen on Grand Designs. Beautiful, modern, spacious and full of light. I walked in to this room, made mostly of light wood panelling, plush cushions and windows. A lounge, a long dining table, comfy seating and a huge open plan state of the art kitchen. More than that. Volunteers making their breakfast, cheerful, kind and eager to welcome me in.
The financial adviser was off sick, but they took all my details so she could call me as soon as she is well. I was made an enormous mug of tea and welcomed to join them for banter at the table. There were two volunteers, a visitor, a man who didn’t speak much, and me. We were quickly joined by a lovely lady, not much older than me who had just started her first week of Chemotherapy. I remembered my own Chemotherapy when I was 8 years old and had Leukaemia. I felt for her. Another lady came in – like me, for the first time, to see what Maggies was all about. She had been on Chemo for some time. Another man joined us too and recommended that I come to their Tai Chi classes.
I felt… like a fraud.
There was these lovely upbeat people, so much sicker than me. Undergoing the hell that is Chemotherapy. All I need is a few operations and a very short radiotherapy treatment. I felt like my Cancer wasn’t real. Like I didn’t deserve to be there. That I was blessed to be accepted in their company, but in comparison to their Cancers, I had no reason to be upset about mine. Yet for the first time… I felt upset about mine.
Once you have had Cancer, that fear doesn’t leave you. That C word can mean so many things. Such a serious word. Such a serious illness. But now I’ve recovered from my first thyroid surgery, I don’t feel that I’m ill. I can’t describe the state of confusion I am in. That THING in my neck is not sticking out anymore. I can’t see it or feel it there anymore. But the Cancer cells may well still be inside me. Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma has a cure rate of 95%, which is brilliant for a Cancer. It is slow growing and I’ve quite probably had it for a long time already. But I’ve never been lucky when it comes to statistics.
My chances of getting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 1997 as an 8 year old girl, were 21 in 1,000,000!
The incidence of a pregnant women developing HELLP Syndrome in pregnancy, is Less than 1 in 1000
The chances of a female being diagnosed with a thyroid Cancer is 1 in 248
So if you are telling me that 95% are cured… that leaves 5 in 100 or 1 in 20, that don’t get cured.
Perhaps I am overthinking it, but suddenly the motto from The Hunger Games comes into my head “May the odds be ever in your favour!”
For those of you having thoughts of my luck turning… the chance of winning the lottery is 1 in 14 million! (And it helps if you can afford to buy a ticket!)
So perhaps I should be using my time at Maggies to discuss my real feelings instead of using it as a distraction. Perhaps I should be taking my Cancer more seriously and admitting that I DO belong there. Perhaps I should join the Tai Chi class! After all, I could probably use some exercise!
See, talking to you, my lovely readers has turned my mood back around already. Forget the Tai Chi… I’m aiming for the “Head and Neck Cancer SURVIVORS group”!!!
1. Leukaemia incidence rates taken from
2. HELLP Syndrome incidence rates taken from
3. Thyroid Cancer incidence rates taken from
4. Chances of winning the lottery taken from http://www.playlotto.org.uk/lottery/uklottery_odds.html