I needed something to drag me out of my writing slump. A call from Cancer Research UK asking me to write a new blog post to read at the launch of the Selfish Mother #GoodTees for Stand UP To Cancer 2016 was just the jolt I needed.
So, here it is. Feels good to be back.
It was all going so well. Life had well and truly turned that mythical corner and I really thought I’d done it.
‘IT’ being surviving the first five years of life as a single mum to triplets and their big brother.
‘IT’ being moving on, finally, from a toxic relationship with their dad.
And ‘IT’ being beating breast cancer.
The magical five year all clear was well within touching distance and I felt great. Actually, scrap that. I felt bloody brilliant. The kids were happy, settled and finally at school. I was writing daily, full of ambition and focus. Our life together as a family of five was noisy, chaotic but bursting with love. There was even the glimmer of a new, healthy, sane romantic love on the horizon.
I felt the healthiest I’d ever been been both physically and emotionally and had also, impressively, found the perfect balance between wheatgrass and white wine, kettle chips and kale. The painful dramas were behind us and there was everything to look forward to. You get the gist – it was all looking really, really good for me and my four.
And then everything fell apart. For the second time. The second time. Secondary. I can barely say the word let alone write it. The shock was immense. I was blindsided. How could it be back so silently and without warning.
It was definitely back. Forget the ‘all clear’ – it had clearly never gone away. Too scared to ask questions I just numbly stumbled through the biopsies, blood tests and scans and pretended to listen as the brutal side effects of chemotherapy were explained to me. Unnecessarily. I ran my fingers through my hair and counted my eyelashes. Not again. Please not again.
Once the initial shock had worn off I felt confident that I’d be able to continue writing, blogging and chronicling this difficult chapter – this ‘blip’ as described it. I would write inspirational words about rising to this latest challenge and I would move my few loyal readers to tears with my tragic yet touching posts.
Yeah, right. I became blocked over night. The thing I’d prided myself on – writing with complete truth now felt impossible and far too terrifying. So, eighteen months ago I shut the lid on my laptop and that was it. I was a writer no more.
It felt so easy to start blogging all those years ago when the babies were tiny and I’d just come through treatment. Single mum, triplets, cancer – wow, look at me! Look at how much I’ve had to deal with, look at how honestly and openly I write about how it really is. No filters, no crafts or cupcakes, just the realities of life. This time, the reality was too painful.
And now, I suppose there is some kind of weird acceptance to my…situation. Life has a strange, new normality to it.
I’m fully back in mum mode and as far as I know, right now, the cancer that lurks has gone into hibernation. It’s not currently ‘active’ – another hideous word that makes me shudder.
I feel as fit as a fiddle but apparently I’m not. Or am I? I’m confused but not courageous enough to ask for clarification.
If it wasn’t for the three weekly trips to the Royal Marsden for a dose of magic juice and the monthly injections into my stomach that keeps the hormones at bay and the nightly pill I pop to add another layer of oomph to my treatment – well, I could almost convince myself that nothing was wrong.
IS anything wrong? Maybe, just maybe, ‘it’ might stay inactive forever. Am I in denial? Is it so bad to be in denial?
Or, do I owe it to myself, to my kids and wonderful new husband to ask the scariest question of all – does secondary always mean terminal?
There. I’ve said it. And written it. Maybe I can do this. Maybe I can share my experiences once more, my darkest thoughts and fears with whoever wants to listen. And, if no one does, it really doesn’t matter – at least I’ve taken the first step towards sharing them with myself.
Getting the call from the lovely team at Cancer Research UK and being asked to help raise awareness by giving a talk in support of Stand Up To Cancer came at just at the right time. I’ve wanted so much to try and find my voice again. I’ve wanted so much to believe that my future isn’t so limited that it’s not worth the effort. I want so much to be one of the success stories.
And, let’s be honest. I really wanted one of those gorgeous t-shirts…
I’m supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate new cancer treatments to patients and save more lives. To get involved this October and help beat cancer sooner, visit standuptocancer.org.uk