I have considered myself to be a breast cancer survivor ever since I was diagnosed with this horrible, horrible disease in January 2007.
This month is breast cancer awareness month so I thought it was a good time to add a blog post about the disease. This month is also the month when I need to make an appointment with my GP to get a referral for all my annual scans in time to get the scans done in December which is close the anniversary of diagnosis.
This month and the next couple are when I think most about this horrible, horrible disease.
Today, for the first time in years, I visited the Breast Cancer Network Australia website.
https://www.bcna.org.au/. They've changed the site a lot since the days when I was a regular visitor and contributor. It was nice to see that an excerpt from one of my articles is still on the site. I won't say where on the site as I have chosen to keep my Creative Miss L identity separate to my personal identity. Those who need who need to know who the Creative Miss L is do because I tell them in person.
It was and is hard to revisit the BCNA website. It's been nearly 9 years since diagnosis and I luckily don't think about cancer very often any more.
In the past, I was confronted with having cancer at almost every moment of every day. For years. These days the reminders are less frequent and don't kick me in the gut like they used to. Today though, writing this blog, is making me want to throw up. Happy days, not.
A brief history
I was in my late 30s when I was diagnosed. I found the lump myself. The lump was removed one week, the remaining breast removed the next as more cancers were found. I had months of chemo and radiation therapies, followed by years of various oral drug treatments. I underwent reconstructive surgery after I passed the 5 year mark. I am one of the unlucky cancer patients who continue to suffer from cancer-related fatigue, even though all cancer treatments ended some years ago.
I have not used any alternative health therapies or remedies and get very, very pissed off when people try and tell me I should use them, so don't try. Each to their own and I have chosen modern, science-based medicine. I supplement that with physiotherapy when I need it, exercise and a healthy diet, again all science-based. I don't always follow good exercise or a healthy diet, but that's my choice and I'm OK with that.
Long term effects
Cancer is a head game. I think that how cancer affects you and your life is how you think about it and deal with it mentally. I have chosen to attack the horrible disease and not let it beat me or take over my life.
Since diagnosis I have become a traveller. Holidays with my family are extremely important to me. At the end of the cancer year, my family and I spent a week on Lord Howe Island. To celebrate surviving 5 years post diagnosis, my family and I spent two weeks exploring parts of Western Australia. We road camels at sunset on Cable Beach, we visited the Bungle Bungles, we swam in Tunnel Creek, saw hundreds of fresh water crocs at Windjana Gorge, and we swam with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef.
Last year The Husband and I spent two weeks touring Tasmania. This year I spent a week on my own in Tasmania and plan to return again next year, this time with both The Husband and BoyBoy.
A couple of years ago we took another family to Lord Howe Island for 10 days. We are going again, for our 5th time, in December/ January.
So, cancer has made me a traveller. It has also made me intolerant of people who waste my time or who don't contribute to my peace of mind.
I simply cannot be bothered with people who cause me stress. I could write more on this topic but it makes me angry so I won't. Besides, I might be tempted to write something which I will later regret.
On a positive note...
Cancer is survivable. You can still lead a happy, fulfilled, joyful life. You can still have friends, eat great food, travel, learn a new skill or hobby, watch great TV, watch bad TV, watch the sunset. Cancer doesn't have to take away any of those things.