I knew I was terrified, but I did not want to dwell on the potential implications. I have a tendency to overthink and knew this news would consume me. I was lucky the day after the colonoscopy and diagnosis I offered to dog sit for two weeks for a friend. Bobbi (dog) managed to keep my thoughts at bay but I also managed to rally round a team of babysitters (friends and parents) who just stayed with me to keep me active/ busy and to allow me to be me.
Tip – make sure you have people around you, who will tolerate you at your worst. They will absolutely help keep you sane-ish and make life more bearable). Macmillan and Maggie’s Centres also provide a whole heap of services, including counselling and will help you find out what benefits you might be entitled to. I would absolutely recommend making the most of these charities – they are used to dealing with cancer and we are not).
The morning after my colonoscopy, I had to tell work about my diagnosis. In a fit of adrenalin, I hit dial to my line managers and ugly cried – I was incoherent if I’m really honest. I feel bad for that call, not because of the lack of professionalism but because it is such a burden to hit people with and no amount of training can prepare you. I’m lucky, my work were so supportive and rallied round, I asked for additional time off and they wholly supported me. My request with work was for my news to be communicated to my team but that they were instructed to leave me in peace until my head had settled.
After the call to work, my dad popped into my room, where I was crying my eyes out. He came over and I just bawled that I did not want to die. My dad’s health had meant he had to come to terms with his own mortality and had a couple of close calls with the grim reaper himself. He hugged me close and said ‘neither do I’ – it was such a profound moment, father and daughter united in pure fear – I wanted the world to swallow me whole. However, the moment ceased when the doorbell rang, and the happiest ever dog (Bobbi) ran into the house, ready to be spoilt rotten for a few weeks.
I decided not to tell my friend (Bobbi’s mum) that I had cancer that day, I didn’t have the headspace and she needed the best holiday. I felt bad as I was not myself when she visited, but actually having Bobbi for those few weeks provided me with structure and something else to think about. My friends absolutely adored Bobbi and we took him for tours around the Cotswolds – he even made friends with the neighbourhood children – I felt like the pied piper at times.
My only aim over the course of the next few weeks was to survive as best possible between appointments, my mates providing me with wine, laughter and the ability to call me a bellend or any flavour of insults to make me smile. I developed a darker sense of humour at this time, finding cures for cancer that might work in my favour like topping up that wine glass or when I spoke to my parents – puppies, puppies cure cancer, buy me a puppy! (Reader, note that they didn’t buy me one and they will burn in hell for that (or not!)) but believe me, I will be getting a puppy just as soon as I can.
The thing is, probably like you, I hate hospitals and I hate being dependant on people to help me (something you have to get used to with cancer), but I was determined only to take this step by step as it was unfathomable.
I’m glad I approached it the way I did, despite the terror, I had a pretty fun summer and that was down to the people I surround myself with – even with Covid running riot. If I had known before what I’d be about to go through, I’d never have believed that I’d be able to do it. That’s another thing you need to know – you are stronger than you ever knew you’d need to be. That is not a statement to scare you, but I’m really proud of myself, especially with my phobia of injections/ needles and I’ve desperately tried to look for the positives at each step.