I remember being a little girl playing mummies and daddies knowing that my ultimate goal in life was to have my own family. I wanted the perfect bloke (and I did pretty well on that front, even if I do say so myself), the house, 2.4 kids, you know, the whole 9 yards. I wanted that more than anything else. I think it’s why I struggled so much when people asked me what I wanted to “do”. I loved what I studied but I always wanted to answer that question with “be a wife and a mother”.
That’s why when I was diagnosed with cancer it felt like a particularly cruel joke was being played on me. Here I was, married to the love of my life, with two beautiful girls (one of whom was only 4 months old when I was initially told) and I was diagnosed with not just any cancer, but cervical cancer.
Since then I’ve undergone 2 major surgeries, 3 minor procedures, hospice stays, hospital stays, more A&E trips than I can count, more district nurse visits than I care to count, 7 rounds of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy and I’ve managed to surprise my oncologists and find myself in remission after being given 5 years left to live and told remission wasn’t possible.
Remission, it means that now that treatment is completed I will be going back into follow up, seen once every 3 months (unless I have symptoms that mean I need to be checked out sooner – but fingers crossed, I won’t) and the rest of the time, well, that’ll be us trying to find a new normal.
I don’t know what that is going to look like exactly. I won’t lie, part of me is terrified. The last time I was in follow up I was rediagnosed by the time the 3 months came around. The future without treatment seems weirdly blank at times. It’s been a good eighteen months of sheer hell, it’s like we’ve been in a hamster wheel going from one treatment to the next to the next and now that hamster wheel has just stopped.
The other part of me is so excited to have some time with the girls, with Tom, maybe having a holiday, time to put ourselves back together and digest everything that’s gone on.
Life after cancer looks complicated, but however mixed up I might feel, I know one thing for certain: I’m unbelievably lucky and thankful to be writing the words “life after cancer” because I know my story could be incredibly different. It still might. But, for now, I’m going to savour every crazy, mixed up minute of life because I am so bloody glad to be living it.
There’s no denying that my path has been massively altered, but I am determined to make my experience worth it by helping to educate women about their bodies, about making access to gynaecological health care easier and smear testing more frequent, starting younger too.
So, here’s to my new path. One that I am happy to walk as an advocate for women’s healthcare and helping to rid the world of all cervical cancer cases that can be prevented. If my experience can help aid anyone going through this then that’s another little step closer to achieving my bigger goals.
Thank you to all who have supported me along the way and I really hope you’ll keep following me a be a part of the next steps I make on my new path in life xx