real life

The side of cancer we rarely talk about: "It’s hard to articulate how difficult it is."

There’s one thing I find people don’t often hear about or speak about is what is life like after cancer treatment? What now?

It’s something I’m really struggling with at the moment. What should I be doing with myself now that my tests, scans and appointments are slowing down?

It’s been almost four and a half years since my first diagnosis with bowel cancer and almost one and a half years since my second diagnosis. The fact that the whole of 2017 was a write-off and that the beginning of 2018 was a little sketchy at times (and still is somewhat) is what makes life really hard to move forward. 

While my life had stopped on many occasions, to have surgeries and undertake treatment, for everyone else around me, their lives continued as normal. There has been a huge loss of quality of life, I’ve missed milestones with the ones I love, and not being able to see my friends as much as I would like has put me out of the loop.

It’s overwhelming to try and play “catch-up”.

People don’t talk about it because it’s hard to articulate how difficult it is to get back into the real world once treatment has finished. Friends drop off, so you have to come to terms with the fact that the people you spent a lot of time with pre-cancer are no longer around.

But in saying that, because of cancer, new people have stepped into my life and I am so grateful for everyone that has reached out to me recently. I’ve formed new friendships and I am slowly starting some new beginnings.

Marilee Mai’s five-year-old daughter Milan was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer a year ago, now she’s doing everything she can to save her girl. Post continues.

I’ve taken a big step back into normality by returning to work, which I am really enjoying because I have a great, supportive team around me. I started back at work in February just doing two four-hour shifts a week, now recently I have added another four-hour shift to my week.

I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

But still, life just isn’t the same, and I don’t think it ever will be. How can you simply move on and put four and a half years of trauma behind you? And the fear of the future and the fear of the unknown? There are no rule books telling you how to get back into “living” again. Everyone is different so what may work for one, may not work for another.

All I’m going to say is that it’s hard, very hard. I won’t sugar coat it, some days can really suck. There are days where I’m feeling like me again; alive, well, happy! I walk along the boardwalk by the beach, which is my happy place, but there are still those darker days (like today for example) where all I feel like doing is laying in bed watching Netflix or Foxtel and not facing the world. I do not have children, nor do I have a partner, so I don’t even have that daily motivation in my life to get myself up and about and spend my day with my family.

It takes time and it’s hard, especially when I’ve mustered up the courage to put myself out there and have asked for some company but I’ve been knocked back, or ignored, for reasons I do not know.

However, I will always refer back to my two all-time favourite quotes:

HOPE: Hope for a brighter day and a better future.

YOU’VE GOT THIS: Sometimes I feel like I haven’t, but I do, I’ve been knocked down more times than I can recall, but I’ve always gotten back up again.

You’ve got to always get back up again, no matter how hard it may be. It’s the best thing that we can do to keep on keeping on.

This post originally appeared on Sherie Hagger’s blog Butt Why Sherie? and was republished with full permission. You can read the original post here, and follow Sherie on Facebook and Instagram.

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Top Comments

Been there too 4 years ago

Hi. I just want to say that you aren't alone Sherie. I am lucky enough to be someone who came out the other side, but whenever I feel a pain somewhere, or something just doesn't feel right my first thought (that has obviously been lurking in the back of my brain the whole time) is what if it is cancer again? I have also, like you, just had a very extended time going through further treatment related to side effects of the original treatment, and I often feel like it is 2 steps forward, one step back. Like you I'm also in the boat of being able to now tentatively look to the future and having to try to work out where I've found myself and what the heck I am going to do now!

I don't have much in the way of answers for you, but I thought it might help to know you aren't alone. You will probably hear from people who haven't been there that you should just be grateful for being here, but I'm sure you already feel that gratefulness. I 100% understand the other feelings that are the point of what you are writing about. You aren't alone, and it might be a slower process than you'd like but you will eventually get to a place where you start to feel like your new normal is ok. Me too. Hang in there!