The cancer treatment wasn’t the dark time for me, it was afterwards that I fell into the black hole.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on instagram and facebook of women celebrating their last chemotherapy treatment, of their happy smiles and bald heads rejoicing the fact that cancer treatment was finally over, but I never had a moment like that.
There was no finality for me, no moment when I thought to myself ‘Phew, the worst is over.’
I didn’t heave a sigh of relief because in truth I felt no relief at all. I felt daunted and overwhelmed.
My life had revolved around breast cancer for over two years and now it was over I felt like I was stepping into the void; into the complete unknown. Nothing else had really mattered or existed in those two years, just breast cancer and surviving it. So when all was finally said and done it was as if I’d been left in a vast open space of nothing and I had no idea what to do with that.
Was I really supposed to just pick up where I left off? Just press rewind on the video recorder of life to me before cancer and get on with it?
I’m about to admit something that terrifies me, I’m terrified because what I’m about to admit is seems very politically incorrect… ‘wrong’ in many peoples eyes. But it’s my truth, so I’m not going to deny it. I’m going to get open and honest to you in the hope that maybe there is one person out there that understands, and by getting vulnerable and sharing my truth I am helping that one other person feel less alone.
Going through breast cancer treatment wasn’t the bad part for me.
Sure, the moment the doctor told me I had stage three breast cancer was horrific…but just for an hour, maybe two. Then I slipped into automatic pilot mode and didn’t feel anything… I just went numb.
It was like I disappeared in the shock of it all. I went in to survival mode and I remained there for more than two years; the world revolved around staying alive and that was it. I was a robot.
I had my tit cut off, all my lymph nodes removed, went to chemo, watched my hair fall out, got my daily zaps of radiation, had an expander put in, reconstruction surgery, more reconstruction surgery. And it was fine, it was all fine…I was a zombie, and didn’t seem to feel a thing.
In fact there were moments where I thought to myself, ‘Why does everyone make such a big deal about this? It’s not such a big deal, you just do what you have to do.’
I’m sorry, I know that sounds brutal but I’m just being honest, that was how it was for me, that was my experience of breast cancer treatment.
I just got on with it, did what I had to do and pretty much felt nothing.
If the doctors told me to jump I’d ask how high? I did as I was told, followed procedure, and focused on not dying.
But then it was over and I didn’t have to be in survival mode anymore. And suddenly I switched back from automatic pilot into manual and that’s when the shit hit the fan.
I had feelings again, I had emotions, I had thoughts. There were no more trips to the hospital, no more family and friends making the world revolve around me and my illness, no cancer distracting me from the real world.
I was suddenly thrown back into reality and I hated it because I had absolutely no idea what to do, who I was or what the hell came next???
Who was I now? And where did the old me go? I went through breast cancer and somehow lost my self along the way. I was so busy staying alive that I hadn’t even noticed everything about me had changed. So the treatment ended and I didn’t have a clue who I was.
It felt like I had gone to bed as me, then woke up the next morning, looked in the mirror and saw some random stranger staring back at me. The me I saw the night before had long beautiful hair and great cleavage, the me reflecting back in the morning had barely any hair and wonky tits…one cold and hard, the other soft and warm.
And it wasn’t just the physical me that was a stranger, it was all of me.
My food tastes, the music I liked to listen to, fashion style, my philosophies on life, politics, my priorities, my personality, it had all somehow changed. It was all different, it was all strange and it was all utterly terrifying.
Can you relate? If you can then I'm here to help you.
You see I understand it all now, I understand it so I can explain it to other survivors before they get stuck in the same black hole as I did. Don't lose hope, don't think you'll feel this way forever, happiness is just around the corner and I can take you there.
And most importantly, please know you are NOT alone.