Out weighing the negatives with the positives
The positive sides to cancer? Really what the heck is the woman on about I hear you say. Most if you have probably heard of the phrase that if everyone threw all their worries and problems up in the air you’d be glad that you caught your own on the way down? If you haven’t then you’re missing out, you were probably either born into a Royalty or have been hiding under a rock for the past 40 years. I have tonnes of practical life advice and gems like this which have helped me get where I am today and I can honestly say I haven’t eaten yellow snow yet tempting as it has been at times.
From personal experience I can honestly say you would not wish this disease on your worst enemy and if I threw some of my current problems up in the air you’d probably avoid it like a shit storm for sure. However, we all have our own issues and problems going on in our lives but it’s true there is always somebody worse off than you. For every negative thing that happens in our life we have to take the positives from it in order to overcome it.
Having cancer has definitely brought with it it’s fair share of negatives and heart ache but I can honestly say there have been some positives throughout all this experience. I’ve listed some of these below;
1. A new-found sense of gratitude
From all of this I am more appreciative and grateful for the things I do possess in life. I have a family, children, friends, a roof over my head, I can afford to eat, I am lucky enough to have treatment. I am ALIVE. All these things each day I am grateful for. Sometimes you just have to step back from all the chaos and see what you do have around you. Yes, strive to be a better person to get that promotion you want, to save up and buy that pair of shoes but don’t lose sight of the simple pleasures in life that I know I have taken for granted before like your health and wellbeing.
2. You tend to win on the Top Trump of ailments
There are certain people who tend to be quite vocal about issues going on in their daily lives, little niggles and aches, colds and sniffles. These are the type of people when you ask the question “How are you doing?” you suddenly remind your subconscious why you shouldn’t have asked that question in the first place. It’s not that you don’t care about them I think it’s that our day-to-day chaotic lives don’t always leave us time for those sorts of discussions. Sometimes people just want to talk and to know someone is listening. Maybe ask this person to go for a brew one day or sit next to them with a timer and tell them they have 5 minutes in which to moan after that they need to shut up or be punched in the face, whichever you think will work best.
Since being diagnosed with cancer I don’t know whether it’s that I haven’t noticed these types of discussions going on of late or people don’t tend to bother me as much with their little niggles when I
ask them how they are. I suppose it’s like a game of top trumps in a way……
Sniffle cold and bad night sleep scores 20
Stage 4 cancer scores 110
I win…. in a strange but rubbish way
Don’t get me wrong I don’t want people to think they can’t tell me how they are feeling nor do I want to be the doom and gloom of every general ‘how are you? ‘discussion. I do know that there are people who have a lot bigger issues than me to deal with. Maybe most people now however think well that worry isn’t so bad and focus on something better for us to talk about instead. I like to think I also don’t moan as much about insignificant things as much since being diagnosed with cancer. I’m not totally sure I’ve not been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of my enlightening discussions lately!!!
3. A stronger bond of friendships
Since being diagnosed with cancer I have been lucky enough to have some fantastic friends that have supported us. These people have seen me at the lowest point in my life, they have literally been by my bed side, at the end of a phone call, sending constant messages of support, been in supply of constant healthy foods, provided childcare when needed it and just been there for a hug when words couldn’t be spoken.
They’ve been there to help me laugh when I didn’t look myself (more at my expense I think but it helped all the same), to bring magazines and books, to bring stupid but thoughtful gifts and also help me escape in a wheelchair for five minutes of fresh air to the front entrance of the hospital ironically surrounded by patients smoking. These friendships are priceless and stronger than ever. I know that these people will always be there no matter what and I will always be there for them in their time of need to hopefully pay back the favour.
4. A stronger bond with family
Since having cancer my relationship with my parents and sister has definitely improved. We hug more, talk more and see each other more. They’re always there to offer a helping hand with a lift to the hospital, looking after the kids, driving me to and from work. They have seen me at my worst visited me nearly every day and spent the night by my bedside in a chair, when at the age of 37 I was too scared to be left alone in the hospital room for another terrifying night. I know for a fact they would sacrifice their home and everything in order to make sure I beat this disease and hopefully I will show them they don’t’ have to. You can’t choose your family but I would choose them hands down.
This too goes for my extended family, my cousins, aunties and uncles. They have been amazing with visits constant supply of green teas and fruits, colouring books (yes colouring books they’re therapeutic I promise). It’s at times like this you feel lucky to have such a big family.
Like I said you can’t choose your family but I did choose my extended family the ‘in laws’ and I’m so glad I did. They have been a constant support with phone calls and messages and visited us to help out quite a few times. My relationship with them is stronger and made me realise we need to make more time to visit them which I intend on doing.
5. A stronger bond with my husband and children
Now I can’t say our relationship is a bed of roses it neither was before I became ill or is now I have cancer. Like any relationship you have to keep on working at it to make it work. Ste has been the one who has probably been affected most by my cancer he has seen me cry uncontrollably on numerous occasions, he’s been to the majority of appointments to hear the whirl wind of news. He’s spent nights visiting in hospital whilst still holding down a job and looking after the kids and slept by my bedside holding my hand when things took a turn for the worse. He’s been the one supporting my food and exercise choices as he knew how important it was to me. He’s been sat on this roller coaster with me whilst in the background having his own fears for our future and my health. His support through all this has helped keep me going and to stay positive. For that I will always be eternally grateful.
We’re definitely stronger individuals from all of this. If we can beat this together and stay strong then we can beat anything we just need to remind ourselves to sometimes just be a couple in spite of everything else going on. See it’s easy to forget sometimes for any busy couple not just to carry on with the day-to-day churn of work, kids, school, sports, appointments etc. You need to make time for each other whether that be a surprise day out, date night, a trip to the cinema, a meal or something as simple as a 5-minute conversation without interruptions from children, the dog peeing on the floor (just mine then), Facebook or barrage of phone calls and texts.
I definitely have a stronger bond with the children. I always make time for them in the evenings. Story times are more special, I’m more appreciative of their work, I try to make weekends and time off work extra special. We hug more and I squeeze them that little bit tighter (don’t worry I stop when they turn blue!). I hope one day when they’re older to understand they realise how proud I am of them and how much they have helped spur me on to beat this disease. I hope one day I too will make them proud.
6. A greater appreciation that life is precious
Since having cancer I’ve realised how fragile and precious life really is. I’ve seen people sadly lose their battles and had worries about losing my own. The truth is cancer or no cancer none of us know how long we will be here for and we need to make the most of it as we only get one chance. Having cancer gave me that wake up call suddenly my life experiences were under pressure and all the things I wanted to do would possibly have to be condensed into a couple of years or never happen. I’m doing my best so that doesn’t happen but in the mean time I take more chances, make the most of the opportunities and just enjoy being round the things a people who make me happy.
I sort of have that ‘fuck it’ what’s the worst that can happen approach whilst still keeping a level head that I am going to be around for a long time to come. For example, I haven’t blown all my life savings on bungee jumps and sky dives or a week in the Caribbean with suitcase full of rum. What I have done is I did the high ropes, started the blog, started kickboxing, I offered to talk about my experiences and I no longer shy away from dancing at the kid’s dance floor. I realised I am stronger than I ever thought I was (see Northern birds are tough), I got brave and learned to have fun with life in the process.
I think those close to me seem to have also took something from this experience. We’ve made more time to see each other, some friends have signed up for their first triathlon and races, some took that course, went for the new job and even entered boxing events!! Maybe cancer was brought into my life so not to waste what I was already lucky enough to have and to make me achieve so much more.
21st September 2017 – The ask
It was the week after my ‘Walk of Hope’ and ten days after my first treatment. I went to work that morning and carried on as normal. In general, I felt fine any tiredness could have been down to my mind working constant overtime. At that time very little people knew so I was still trying to act normal (as normal as I ever was).
I got the train to Bolton and for some reason my Dad was picking me up outside. I got off the train and headed outside. At that point I could hear a few people whispering. When I got outside and waited I then realised they were whispering as Professor Green had just got off the same train as us.
He was waiting outside with two other guys and was stood pretty close to where I was. Ste is a big fan of Professor Green and the likely hood I would ever be in the same location to him is pretty slim. You don’t ask for autographs these days all the cool kids seem to ask for selfies so it was now or never this was my chance. I could feel the rush that I should do something normally I just ignore it then regret it but this time it was different. My subconscious said ‘fuck it’ what’s the worst that can happen.
So, I chirped up in the shakiest, pathetic northern accent you have probably ever heard and said; “Excuse me could I have a selfie for my husband he’s having a bit of a bad time at the moment?”. I couldn’t have been any more of a nerd if I tried. I had the frumpiest clothes I had decided to shove on that day that didn’t happen to need ironing. I was holding a carrier bag for some reason instead of my lap top bag or a hand bag. My hair was a mess and I still had a droopy mouth from my operation a few weeks back but this was the moment I had to go with it.
Professor Green kindly obliged I even told him to take the selfie as I was rubbish plus my arms are that short I’m not sure I would have fit one head in never mind two. But I did it and it wasn’t that bad. I saw the opportunity and I took it. This was the start of something new.
See out of everything I have experienced, cancer has taught me if you see an opportunity grab it with both hands. Don’t let it go to waste. It’s yours for the taking you just have to be brave reach out and the rewards are worth it. Even if you look a fool in the process it’s better than to live with the what if’s.