Ha, so much for my seven consecutive days of blogging - I ended up with a stinking cold and wilted, like a flower without any water.......just had no energy, spent most of the day coughing and pretty much most of the night doing the same, to the point where my ribs ached and I tried desperately to hold the cough in just to avoid feeling that horrible stabby pain, eventually having to just give in and cough away, one hand clutching my ribs and the other in front of my mouth!
You'd think, after all my body has coped with over the past year, that a cold would be something I could take in my stride, wouldn't you? But no, it knocked me for six. I suppose that might mean that my immune system is not yet back up to full speed. Of course, this meant no exercise for several days, so I am feeling a bit antsy and fed-up about that. Back to the gym tonight to an aerobics class, which I hope to manage without having to stop for a coughing fit - if I can do that, I know I am on the road to full recovery.
Talking of all my body has dealt with over the past year brings me to another reason why I haven't posted. On Saturday, the 17th of March, it was exactly one year since I first felt the lumps in my jaw and thought that something wasn't quite right. Little did I realise then just how big an impact those two little lumps would have. This time last year I was blithely thinking that I had some kind of infection and my glands had swollen up to fight it - yes, unusually only on one side, but I didn't think that was anything untoward. I do tend to think of events as "BC" or "AD" - Before Cancer and After Diagnosis, as if finding out I had cancer caused a seismic shift in my world. Did it? An interesting question - I look at my life and so much of it is the same: same husband and children, same friends (for the most part - one or two whom I thought would be more actively interested went very quiet very early and have stayed that way and conversely, some people have stepped up to the plate and proved themselves to be trusty companions), same house, same lifestyle, same interests....when I look at it like that, not much has changed.
And yet......I feel changed. I feel - I know! - that my approach to life has altered. I feel that, having been given what to me I can only describe as a second chance at life, I have been given the most precious gift: time on this earth. That fills me with such a deep appreciation and thankfulness for all the wonderful work of our NHS and the love and support of my family and friends that I hope I never take any of them for granted again. I feel that I have a renewed appreciation of the simpler things in life, too - I have found such gentle pleasure in listening to birdsong, watching our cats move from one sunny spot to another as the sun moves around the garden, seeing plants and flowers change over the seasons. Nothing sophisticated involved, just nature doing what she does. I don't feel that material things are as important as once I did - yes, I am lucky that we have a nice house in a beautiful area, but I am not fussed about having a newer car or the latest trendy kitchen/garden/technology "must-have" (although I have to confess to having upgraded to the iPhone 4s - I never said I was perfect!!). I have realised that all that really matters is health, family, friends and love.
I make no apologies for sounding like a mawkishly sentimental Pollyanna today. This is how I feel. I've had a lot of time to reflect on life over the last year and although this time last year I had no idea of what a bumpy ride I was going to have, it became clear within a few weeks, so I had to get used to this new set of realities fairly quickly. I think that, on the whole, I've coped.....okay. There have been bad days and there have been good days. In recent months I have had more good days than bad and I know that I have effective coping strategies for the bad days. When I look back at what's happened to me and my family over the past couple of years, we've coped with my brother dying at the age of 47, our daughter travelling to some of the most dangerous parts of the world, my diagnosis and treatment, my mum being sectioned and then moved into a care home after being diagnosed with dementia - that's quite a list of things. The important thing is that we have coped and we will continue to cope with what happens next. The only thing we know for sure is that I will have more surgery to my face. As for the oncology side - my latest check-up, on Friday of last week, was fine and that's all I can be sure of. I am as healthy as my last check-up. At the moment, the gap between appointments is one month, but I am hopeful that this will gradually be extended as I (fingers crossed) start to have consistently clear results from the physical examinations.
While this blog post contains a lot of looking back, there's a lot of looking forward too. I think that's how I am living my life at the moment - reflection, processing, anticipation and hoping. Is this so different from everyone else's life? I suspect not.