The back story.

I am still not sure how I got here. I no longer have the fantasy that I will turn up to an out-patient appointment and someone will start apologising profusely about the massive mistake that has been made; but I don’t think I really believe that this is what will kill me.

But who does really, truly, believe that they will ever die?

Anyhow, it might not be this that kills me. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. The only thing that’s different about me and you is that I have a bit more information than you about what is happening in my body. The odds of when and how are a bit clearer for me than they are for you.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago. My children were 6 and 4, so they have lived with this for a huge proportion of their lives. I did my time back then – chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiotherapy. I stayed positive, I drank ginger tea, I appreciated the small things. I got better.

I had a reconstruction 2 and 1/2 years ago, which meant having scans to make sure there was no recurrence. It all looked fine. We were relieved.

And then, 2 years ago, I was picked up as having a recurrence of a cluster of small tumours in the other breast and a couple of shadows on my lungs that look like metastases. And suddenly everything changes. This thing I thought had gone had come back. I was no longer being treated to cure, I was being treated palliatively.

So now I’m living with cancer. I am trying to live a sensible, happy, hopeful, meaningful life in the shadow of a monster that could kick off at any time. A bit like you, really, except that I have a better idea of what the monster looks like.

I try to live gratefully – but sometimes I feel angry. Or scared. Or depressed. Sometimes I feel bored. Sometimes I wonder why I bother taking medication that has insidious, irritating side effects.


About sarahsouthwest

I'm now in my early 50s. I started writing again as a way of exploring the world, and feel that over the last 2 years I have really grown as a writer. By day I work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. I juggle my own two children, my work, my writing practice, generally managing to keep all the balls up in the air.
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