Hello! Bet you’re surprised to see a notification about this blog posting again! I’m back for one post, as a general update and especially to mark a few milestones I’ve reached recently. I’m sorry, because this is going to be a long one… I started writing this over christmas so a lot of it is going to seem like a while ago now as well! We’ll start by listing those milestones then…
December 14th 2017 marked 3 years of official remission – anyone who knows anything about cancer will know that this is one of the major milestones if you’re going to relapse it’s likely to happen within these three years, if you reach it without relapsing then you can feel a bit safer! It feels great to reach this point, and I can’t wait to get on to those 5 and 10 year marks!
December 17th 2017 marked 2 years since finishing my treatment completely – halfway through college I waved goodbye to the hundreds of tablets and having an intravenous injection of chemo into a vein in my hand!
December 24th 2017 marked 4 years since I was discharged just in time for Christmas, those two weeks being the longest I’d been out of hospital since the August of that summer. To be home for Christmas that year AND have enough of an immune system to eat some of the food I’d had to be so careful beforehand about was such a dream, and every year since then I’ve had even more of an appreciation for Christmas and being surrounded by family.
January 2nd 2018 was my last ever follow up appointment at Southampton General Hospital, which was a really weird experience. I got a bit emotional and that set my consultant off as well, we came out afterwards both a bit teary! As I used to document my blood results I thought I’d give you my last ever set from January: Hb 130, WBC 7.5, Platelets 195, Neutrophils 4.3. Knowing my bloods has become a safety blanket of sorts, as knowing those values every 3 months gives me a reassurance that it hasn’t come back, that I’m still ‘healthy’. It’ll be a challenge for the first few months, but eventually as I start to think about it less it’ll fade away!
I wanted to do something major and exciting to mark these meaningful dates, something like getting a tattoo… but I’m far too much of a poor student and not brave enough for that! Instead, I’m going to write this blog post and then look back on photos of that time – much easier!
So, to give you a general picture of my life at the moment: I’m now 20 – crazy to think that when this all started I was only 16! I’m studying Physiotherapy at Cardiff University, struggling my way through second year! I’m really enjoying my course (even if I don’t understand half of it) and had an amazing placement in March, where they finally set us free to attempt to be real Physiotherapists! It was in the community so I was visiting patients’ houses with my clinical educator and treating people within their own homes, which added an amazing personal element to the role. I loved it, and it really reaffirmed my joy for being on this course and made me start to feel more sure that I’m right where I need to be. We’ve just started writing our dissertation proposals which is scary but super exciting… I don’t know how I’ve suddenly made it to halfway through university! I go to a lovely church which is literally a stones throw away from my house, and has loads of students which is so good! Here’s a few brief snapshots below…
We’ve just had a lovely Easter, with no university work set and lots of sweet family time and lush food! I appreciate those things even more after going to uni, coming home to a warm house with no damp and food I haven’t paid for is one of the best feelings ever! Also love seeing my family of course… I didn’t come home at all in first semester so I’ve loved being back even more than usual.
I started writing this post on December 27th, and its now May 9th – a clear illustration of how the organised and motivated part of me seems to have taken a permanent vacation around summer of 2015. Its mad how time flies… I can scarcely believe it’s been nearly 5 years since I was diagnosed and almost 3 years since my treatment finished. Some of the memories and moments have started to fade, and it sort’ve becomes this weird ‘thing’ that happened to me ages ago, but that doesn’t define me as the ‘cancer girl’ in the way that it used to. Now, there are so many other things happening in my life, it’s hard to imagine the days where I used to sit around watching TV wondering what a ‘normal’ life felt like. On the other hand, there are times where my back pain flares up or I get cramp in my legs or hands and I’m briefly sent back to that time when those were my biggest worries. The permanent changes are now just something I have to adjust to and try not to exacerbate, which is often hard when you want to be going out, socialising or you’re in University constantly and going to bed late after doing assignments*. If I could speak to that girl, the 16 year old who was brave and positive but still had times of absolute despair, I’d say, look at the immortal words of the Avicii song that was 4th in the charts all those days you spent on that brand new TCT cancer ward:
But I only have two hands
Hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don’t have any plans
Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is a prize
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn’t know I was lost “
Also, rest in peace Tim Bergling AKA Avicii, who helped shape the EDM scene and whose songs will always remind me of the best of my teenage years.