Yesterday marked one year since I was diagnosed with brain cancer (thank you to my friend and housemate Chloe for having that written down!).
It has given me cause to reflect on how far I’ve come in those 12 months, and I’m happy to say I’m proud of where I’m at right now. My latest MRI on Monday showed that my tumour is stable (so no growth) and whilst it hadn’t shrunk like in the previous MRI, my Oncologist assured me that this result is just as good. All things going well I’ll only have one more MRI for this year and then they’ll be slightly more spaced out – which is great coz I hate those things!
Most weeks I feel fairly healthy and positive. Other weeks, when both of my arms are bruised from blood tests and MRI contrast injections, and I’m about to start another cycle of chemo, I feel pretty down. But honestly I am so grateful that I’m responding to treatment and that I’m alive! Plus after this week I only have three more chemo cycles to go and that’s it for hopefully a very long time.
That old cliche about looking at life differently after you become sick is true, at least for me. I place less importance on working crazy hours and proving myself in a professional sense and much more on spending time with friends and family and finding moments of happiness. I also have an urge to help others wherever I can and to contribute to fundraising activities for all kinds of cancers. I did a meditation this morning with the central thought ‘Today and every day I give that which I want to receive’ and I feel that sums up where I’m at in the giving sense.
I’ve focussed a lot on getting my fitness levels back to where they were. In terms of exercising I’m actually a lot fitter than before the diagnosis, I guess because I’m exercising more! Endurance and energy levels still aren’t the same, but that’s common. Now I’m focussing a little more on the emotional / stress management side. I’m seeing a kinesiologist and without getting too spooky wooky on you, she helped me come to a realisation that I needed to forgive my body for getting cancer. I realised I was furious and felt so let down. Now I’m coming to a place of acceptance so I can work with my body to heal.
The next challenge I’m setting for myself is to learn not to live according to the 3 monthly MRI cycles, or in constant fear of the tumour starting to grow again. It’s just no way to live. I think I’ve become a bit more irritable and overly-sensitive (sorry friends!) but it stems from the stress of living like this. I’m certain if I keep up with the therapy, meditation and exercise that this will start to improve.
I’m never going to be one of those people who say they’re grateful for getting sick, or wouldn’t change a thing. Because I’m not thankful for getting cancer – it’s a bullshit disease that has made my life way more medicated and disciplined than I ever wanted it to be. I wish I could go back to when I was young, before I even knew this horrible disease existed (that’s me and my brother Ben in the photo, he probably wouldn’t be very happy about me putting it up!) All that said, I’m determined to make the best of things and to still look to the future and feel excited about some of the positive things that should be coming my way.
I’d like to thank everyone in my life who has supported me through the last 12 months, there is no way I could have made it to this point without you and I love you all dearly.
Lastly, I’m doing a fundraising walk for brain cancer, all proceeds go to the Cure Brain Cancer foundation. You can see all the info here: http://www.walk4braincancer.com.au/my-fundraising/5519/W4BC-Melbourne-2017