Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A very small thing that's actually a very big thing

When I was ill with cancer, I saw a TV ad from one of the major cancer charities. The ad was celebratory in tone and showed cancer survivors doing things that demonstrated how far they had come since their initial diagnosis. One of the scenes in the ad was where a young woman tied her hair back in a bobble (at 45 am I too old to use the word 'bobble'?). I never expected that I would have hair again, bearing in mind my terminal diagnosis, and when you know that you're dying, you tend to be focused on living day-to-day rather than on a future that you will never see.

So, fast forward to today and I now have hair. That's right. Actual hair. Hair that can, with help from a professional (preferably a hair stylist and not a lawyer) look quite normal. But sometimes (and I am ashamed to admit it after years of yearning for my old hair back) it does get on my nerves and I want to tie it back.

I looked in the mirror and tried holding it back to see if it was possible. It wasn't. Never one to give up though, I researched the topic thoroughly (and by 'thoroughly' I mean I skimmed Google for a couple of minutes for inspiration). After several false starts, and looking through endless My Little Pony illustrations, I happened upon some bobbles for children.

I spent one English pound on a selection of teeny bobbles and after much consternation and frustrated endeavour, I did it! I created a post-cancer pony-tail!

It's (quite literally) a very small thing, but in my mind it's actually a very big thing, and if progress was measured in pony-tails, then it's one tiny step but it means a whole lot.

Amanda

OK, definitely not me but you get the idea
Not me either, sadly






Friday, 1 June 2018

Not at all laisez-faire

You would have thought that I would emerge from the clutches of Cancer with a new 'laisez-faire' attitude, a relaxed lifestyle and a commitment to practicing mindfulness. Well the truth is, I'm still the same Amanda that turns up early for everything, prepares for every little eventuality and can't leave 'til tomorrow what I can do today. And by 'today', I mean 'now', or more specifically 'right now'.

So, I felt compelled to comment on some of the clich├ęs that Cancer 'survivors' (a slightly uncomfortable phrase which makes me feel like I'm in an exclusive club that I don't deserve membership of) are expected to observe.

Be in the moment
Well, yes. I am. But before I know it, I'm in the next one, and to be quite honest, it's difficult to be in the moment when you're thinking that you should be in the moment.

Every morning is a fresh beginning
Is it though? What about last night's washing up (who am I kidding? It's Dean that does all that), what about my 'to do' list? Every morning is less of a fresh beginning and more of a new quest to tame my hair after the sleep fairy has made it not really 'just stepped out of a salon' but actually 'just stepped out of a wind tunnel'.

Time heals all wounds
Ermm...maybe. But I still have a whopper of a scar across the back of my head through which my two brain tumours were artfully extracted, one on my breast and one under my arm. And this is nothing compared to my Cancer comrades who have lost their entire breasts or other parts of their body and have had to take lots of confidence knocks and face daily practical challenges.

There's light at the end of the tunnel
OK, that's a good sentiment where I'm standing. I'm nearly three years past my 'expiry date' and am giddily thankful to God, my brilliant oncologist and neuro-surgeon, my husband, my Dad and my amazing friends. But if you're still in the middle of harrowing Cancer treatments, that light seems like a long way away. And when you emerge (and hopefully you will) a little of the dark can follow you around.

Hope springs eternal
Whatever happens to a Cancer sufferer there is always hope, and its siblings, faith and joy. Hope for recovery, hope for a long life and hope that you never have to suffer a recurrence. For me, it's hope that whatever happens in this life, I have been given a no-strings attached (wholly undeserved) place in Heaven through God's grace and the death of his son, Jesus.

Amanda