This isn’t the post I was intending to write next. I really want this blog to be a helpful resource for people who’ve learned that they’ve got cancer and to prove that even though hearing the words “it’s cancer” can be devastating, it’s still possible to laugh your way through it. And I have laughed my way through it so far. I think, generally, I’ve stayed pretty positive, found things funny in the darkest situations and kept a smile on my face when I’ve had setback after setback and generally remained pretty chipper. Last night, though, I hit the wall.
Now if you’ve either run a marathon, or seen Run Fat Boy, Run (I know which is most likely for you charvas, apart from you Andrew and Emma, you two don’t count here) you’ll be familiar with “the wall” as the point in a race where you feel you absolutely can’t go on any longer. I’m led to believe every single muscle in your body hurts, your brain begins to tell you that you can’t carry on, and you feel physically and mentally overwhelmed by the challenge in front of you, as well as being completely exhausted by the struggle you’ve already had.
I’ve never run a marathon. Probably never will. But with surgery and half of chemotherapy behind me, but the other half of chemo, possible radiotherapy and the prospect of another surgery ahead of me, it feels like I’m in the midst of one. And last night I ran head first at full speed into the wall, then found myself in a heap at the bottom of it, sobbing, unable to move and slap bang in the middle of my own very raucous but entirely booze free pity party.
Generally, I’ve kept my shit together so far throughout this whole process. I’ve let a lot of things wash over me, I’ve rolled with the punches, I’ve kept calm and carried on – you know, all them cliches, but last night I just didn’t have the energy for it any more. I didn’t feel like I could take another step forward without throwing up or passing out or breaking down. I wanted to give up.
This whole week, I’ve been building up to a meltdown. From feeling frustrated at my renewed inability to run more than 100m, to the rage I’ve felt because of not being able to tie my hair up in a messy top knot, worrying continually about my loved ones, struggling to look in the mirror, panicking about life after cancer and trying not to let the stupid things people say to you when you’ve got cancer get to you, all while trying to maintain a relatively normal life, I’ve been a bloody pressure cooker of emotional turmoil. Holy paragraph batman, that’s just a fraction of the things I’ve felt in the last week and it’s exhausting to read let alone experience.
Though I’m halfway through chemo, and I should feel like I’m getting closer to the end of active treatment and this massive blip in my life every day, when I look at how far I’ve come since 7th July and I think about what I’ve got to do before this whole saga is over, it still feels like there’s a painfully long way to go. And what comes next? What happens after I hear those words “no evidence of disease”? How do I even begin to get back to a normal life? Do I even want a normal life? What is a normal life after cancer? There’s still so far to go, which is so exhausting to think about when I already feel like I’m running on fumes, but what happens after is terrifying too. I’ve had such a shift in perspective, it’s hard to know what life will look like. And I know, I know there’s no point in worrying about this now, but as a perpetual worrier, it’s hard not to. And it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by that too.
I never wanted this blog to be a place for me to have a pity party, especially one without booze and M&S party food (that’s what makes a party a party amirite?). Please don’t misunderstand me and think that’s what this is. It’s just part and parcel of this bloody cancer package and I want to be honest.
In true Alice fashion, I gave up on yesterday, read some Margaret Atwood (am addicted, she is my queen) and tried again. Today isn’t much different. I don’t think tomorrow will be much different either, and maybe not the next day. My worries about the future and about risks of reoccurrence will remain. I’ll still be anxious about what life will be like after cancer and I’ll still have no clue what to make for dinner because I just can’t face cooking or washing up or even thinking about what I could eat. But I know that this dark weather will pass in favour of sunshine and I’ll feel totally fine again, but for now, uncharacteristically, I just needed to be 100% honest and put my hands up and say “actually, I’m not doing so well.” And that’s alright.
PS: I know I’ve banged on about finding the funny side of living with cancer at 26. I’ma find you something to have a good old chuckle about soon. Maybe I’ll write an ode to peas – the only thing I really want to eat after chemo or a heartfelt plea to my appetite and joy de food to return soon. Perhaps I’ll formally introduce you to my prosthetic breast Gladys (she’s a crowd pleaser, I’ll tell you). Either way, forgive me for the somewhat blue tone my last couple of blogs have taken. There’s still a LOT of joy in my life, including a flying Spongebob Squarepants, but I just needed some space for this crapola too.
PPS: Sorry this is an essay.