Let me try and tell you what it’s like. The fear I mean. The fear of Cancer returning, when you’ve already beaten it twice. When it feels like the more battles you win, the more the odds stack against you.
Most of the time, I’m optimistic. I make the most of every day that I feel healthy. I know there are survivors of Leukaemia and Survivors of Thyroid cancer who have much worse long term side effects than me. People who struggle with energy levels and their immune system. I struggled with my immune system for many many years. In the last six years, a few lifestyle changes have revolutionised my life. Cutting down on sugar, caffeine, alcohol and not working 30-40 hour weeks has done wonders for my health.
I try to project strength, optimism and positivity about every aspect of life. I’m never one to wish time away, longing for the next thing. I live for the moment I appreciate every day. And my family are my everything.
But there’s a darker side to being a cancer survivor. One which I can’t always repress. Beyond the survivors guilt. Survivors guilt is a whole other story. Beyond that, there’s the fear of cancer returning.
The thing is, I seem to have quite a strong sixth sense. When I know something isn’t right, I do some research and it usually leads me down the right path.
When I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, I self diagnosed before I went to the doctor. I was right.
When I had HELLP syndrome, my own research picked up my diagnosis 4 weeks before my consultant.
Whenever I get a kidney infection (I’ve had a lot of these), I’ve gone to the doctor and told them what’s wrong, before I’ve even peed on the stick. And I’ve been right every time.
I knew when my pregnancy was ectopic, before the pain even kicked in. Before I even saw the doctor.
I know when I have a fever, without needing a thermometer.
I know when I’m going to be sick or have a migraine, a good few hours before it happens.
I know when I ovulate, because I can feel it.
I am very in tune with my body and my immense medical history has made me very good at accurately researching symptoms, without overreacting or becoming a hypochondriac.
I am very rarely wrong.
But sometimes I am.
I never saw the pre cancerous cells coming, on my first ever smear test.
I worry I will miss something else.
A few months ago, I started getting horrendous pain the day I ovulate. Can’t stand up, can’t sit down kind of pain. My periods went from their usual 4 day affair to a 1-2 day thing. The heavy feel-like-I’m-dying flow, reduced to a few hours and then virtually nothing. I get immensely tearful the day before my period. When I say tearful, it feels similar to clinical depression, although thankfully it only lasts a day or two. I get nausea and vomitting with my period now. The pelvic pain feels like the start of labour. It feels like my pelvis is going to fall out! I’m not sleeping properly either. My sleep is disturbed and I wake up a lot. Sometimes I wake up sweating. I can’t remember the last time I slept right through the night.
I am tired ALL-THE-TIME.
So tired that I got my oncologist to check my Thyroxine levels, which all came back fine. I was told this is definitely NOT the cause of my fatigue.
And I know, that these symptoms are all ovary related. I am aware that there are many conditions associated with ovaries which are not cancer. I also know I have a high chance of early menopause due to my chemo. BUT, this nagging feeling in the back of my mind keeps telling me it could be cancer again. And I know from attending a function with a top researcher into cervical and ovarian cancers than ovarian is one of the most frightening cancers to have.
And I’ve left it six months to make the appointment out of fear. Fear of cancer returning.
I have a predisposition to cancer due to both my former cancer treatments listing “secondary tumours” as a long term side effect.
Yes… I know it’s stupid. I know I shouldn’t have left it. I shouldn’t have waited. But I was overcome by fear.
Watching Stand Up To Cancer finally gave me the kick up the backside that I needed.
I finally found the courage to book the doctor’s appointment. After waiting two long stressful weeks, I went to the appointment. It wasn’t my usual surgery or my GP. I drove around the car park for over half an hour trying to find a space. Eventually, I had to leave, find a side street to park in and walk to the doctor’s. I arrived ten minutes late and the receptionist refused to let me see the doctor.
I went back to my car and unleashed it all. Months of pent up worry and frustration. Months of slowly building fear. I sobbed loudly and hysterically in my car. I called my husband and then the doctor’s for a new appointment and the hysteria didn’t subside for a good half an hour.
I have had Cancer twice and I KNOW deep down in my gut, I KNOW I am going to have it again at some point in my life’s and I am SO SO scared that that time has come already.
Any member of my family getting cancer (or any terminal illness) is my biggest fear in life now.
The other thing playing on my mind, is early menopause. I’m only 32 and I don’t want my fertility taken away so soon. I battle with self-esteem issues already, without having to go through the menopause a decade or two early.
Sadly, early menopause is almost a certainty for me. But this early?
Obviously, I’d rather take the menopause over Cancer, but I’d rather be wrong about it all and be told I’m normal and healthy.
I am praying that I’m wrong. I want to be wrong. I really really cannot bear to think I could be right on this.
I went to my renewed appointment, at my own doctors surgery this time, with my own doctor. She didn’t fob me off with excuses or tell me I was overreacting. She said that she could understand my concerns and based on my medical history, she’d look into it. I’ve been booked in for blood tests to check for menopause and an ultrasound to check for cancers.
The doctor said she felt that it was highly likely that I am perimenopausal.
So that’s where I am. Only the tests will tell.
Worrying times. And right before Christmas again.
My scan is only hours away as I publish this post and it’s just sunk in.
I AM TERRIFIED!
Sarah MumofThree World says
Oh my goodness! What can I say other than that I’m thinking of you and that I really hope you’re wrong and that it is just normal and maybe early menopause. x
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Emma Day says
I really don’t want the menopause either but Cancer is definitely the worst case scenario. My doctor’s are always reluctant to send people for tests for anything, but they made this an urgent appointment which sends red flags flying. xx
Heather Arnold says
Huge hugs xxx. There are so many things that it could be that cancer is a remoter possibility. FWIW I get similar symptoms and I think it’s just part of getting older. I’ve had so much trouble with periods that I am looking forward to the menopause. I’m 37.
Emma Day says
Thank you for the sentiment. Unfortunately for me Cancer is actually the more likely possibility. It’s in my family genes, I have a predisposition, I’ve had two uncommon cancers already, plus precancerous cells removed from my cervix on top of that. The treatments for both of my former cancers cause secondary tumours. So I wish the possibility was remote, but sadly actually it’s quite likely. And almost a certainty that I will get more cancers in my lifetime. Thank you for trying to cheer me up though. I appreciate it xx
Kim Carberry says
Sending big hugs. I really hope it’s nothing to worry about! x
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