So it was that time again, except I had the luxury of attending the outpatients suite instead of the oncology ward (a small but significant plus for myself). Not much changes though, except maybe the patients don’t look as sick. Other than that everything was similar; the check in, the nurse’s call for the check to make sure I hadn’t lost any weight (no fear of that Doc) and the long wait. It was a bright day; the sun shining made a great difference to my mood. The warm glow on my face made me feel calm and ready for anything. I saw the nurse with my file before she called my name. I could spot my file among the mounds of others in a split second. I was all too familiar, the six inch wide pink folder of pure dread. ‘Sarah Carty please’, I threw my hook and wool into my bag and left it beside my sister who came to accompany me, trying to do a little out of office work when the WiFi would let her.
So I am sure ye are all sitting on the edge of your seats wanting to know the results….. Still all good!!! The side effects I still face, which include the fatigue, sore body and chemo brain are most likely due to the chemo so hopefully by the next three month check- up the majority of these will have dissipated.
It can be hard you know, at the minute I feel I am living my life on a three month basis. As anxious as that may be at times I am learning to live life in the now, not worrying about three months’ time, three years’ time or even thirty years’ time (well obviously by then I will be sun bathing on my private yacht rolling in the fortune I made as a successful author). It can be tough to do that, it seriously takes a lot of positive thinking and reinforcement from friends and family. I suppose the main thing that helps me is to not hide my anxiety about this. People say to me all the time, ‘it must be an absolute relief to be all clear, and you must not know yourself’. Yes that is true, it is a feeling I can’t quiet put into words but there is also a complete different side to it too. I am absolutely bricking myself. You don’t really know if the bubble will burst at any time soon. You nearly want yourself to think negatively so if bad news comes your way it is not a shock, merely a prediction of your pessimistic sub- conscious. However that is not how I roll. I heard and seen some shell shattering things along the way; being told the likelihood of having children was slim (didn’t turn out that way, I have so much gratitude it’s beyond words), requesting a routine letter from my consultant for routine purposes only to learn that I was receiving ‘palliative chemotherapy’. These are things that would make you want to dig that grave yourself and hop in, but I got through it, I summoned a power I never knew I had and dealt with it all. Here I am now, just after showering from a 5km jog I just ran and four months ago I was on palliative care. F**K you cancer. When I feel overwhelmed I close my eyes, sit back and realise how far I have come and it eases me a little. I don’t hesitate to talk about how I am feeling. I think it is what has gotten me through all of this. I have mentioned it before but I attend counselling from the Arklow Cancer Support Group, my local group. What I have gained from meeting these people is invaluable, they have become my little rock that perks me up in times of weakness. I urge anyone going through a tough time to open up and seek help. I was a little cagey going into my first counselling session, thinking in my head ‘sure what else is there to know, I am a pro at this whole surviving business’. Nope, what a naïve individual I was. It has helped me so much, to understand things and to come to terms with other things. At the end of that day you just got to roll with how you are feeling, embrace it, not ignore it and talk to someone. Realise that whatever journey you are on, you have the power to come through it stronger than ever.