Oh the wonders of facebook memories and timehop (does anyone else still use timehop, or is it just me?). They show you whatever you posted all those years ago, on the exact anniversary you posted it.
Most of the time I can’t remember a lot of it; some random quotes of the day I snagged from people where I can’t even remember the context anymore, people tagging me in photo’s saying ‘what a good night’ when it can’t have been that good as I don’t remember it. But sometimes, every now and then, something comes up that I do remember.
The thing that came up today was the anniversary of my biopsy.
3 years ago today I had my neck cut open and a sample of my lymph node taken off for testing, which then resulted in me being diagnosed with the big C. 3 whole years.
Now some, well, actually most people thought I’d go back to my ‘normal’ self the moment I was given the all clear. Others thought I was okay the moment I went back to college and started getting back into a part-time job. The kinder people in my life gave me a free year pass before expecting me to act and function like a normal human being that doesn’t have cancer.
And to be fair I kind of did start doing that. I got myself back into education, actually finished a whole qualification, got myself into university, started working on that. I went back into work, got myself the first job I could find cause I needed money, moved onto a better one when I found it and have managed to hold it down for nearly 2 and a half years. To the outside eye, I function like a normal, cancerless human being, albeit most of the time a tired looking one.
But that’s only because I have to do it. There is no way everyone was going to sit back and let me do nothing until I thought I have fully recovered. My first year at college post-cancer drained the hell out of me, going back to work was a living hell for my body. My immune system hadn’t really recovered so I was getting virus after virus thrown at me. The flu jab helps for that now, but I still manage to catch the ones that no vaccine covers. — By the second year of college I thought I was better as I’d adjusted to what I had to do. Then I got to uni and started doing longer hours, including full day-long film shoots with maybe a 20 minute break for lunch and I realised I just wasn’t taking it in my stride as well as everyone else on the crew. It was then I realised that, even after all these years I’m STILL not like anyone else around me.
Despite this, finally, after 3 years, I can safely say I’ve never felt more like my proper self since all this cancer malarkey.
Sure, things still take more of a toll on me than they did before this. I physically can not survive on less than at least 6 hours sleep without crashing my midday. Just one simple day on my feet and I will be aching so much I need another whole day to recover. I’m kind of like my mum… except she’s 50 and I’m 20 and her’s is because of age whereas mine is because cancer has made my body feel 30 years older than it is. I’ll always have to wear sun cream the moment the sun pushed one ray through the clouds as it’ll burn the fuck out of me because I no longer have natural skin protection. Of course, I still won’t be escaping the hospital visits for at least another 2 years.
But those visits are now only twice a year. I only have to have needles stuck in me for blood tests once every six months, compared to god knows how many times in the past. I no longer have to have a scan unless those tests show something weird, or I have a symptom, therefore my scanxiety is going away.
My scar has faded as much as it will do now. Not that anyone can see it with my hair down anyway. But it’s a badass scar, so I don’t care if it’s obvious.
I’m finally, after fluctuating up and down for 2 years, starting to properly get rid of the steroid fat I gained during treatment. I’m near the weight I was before cancer started making me loose shit loads at an alarming rate to the point you could see I was ill. My hair is almost at the length it was when I got diagnosed.
I think those 2 things are what have helped me feel more myself than I have done in years. It can seem incredibly vein, but when cancer takes everything from you, including your appearance, it sucks. — I’m not going to get my physical durability back to the way it used to be. My personality is never going to be the same, simply because I am no longer the same person I was 3 years ago. But I can gain my appearance back — minus the odd grey hair I’ve found poking around in the regrowth!
What I’m trying to say is, recovery can take a long time. But if it takes this long to feel as good as I do now, to feel as normal as a cancer patient can get, then it has been worth the wait.