I finished treatment at the end of November and was told I could return to work. I couldn't wait! Work were amazing. They told me to ease into things and take it at my own pace, but I was impatient. I wanted to get on with my old life. My confidence was also at rock bottom. I’d put on lots of weight and felt very unattractive, I was incredibly forgetful with ‘chemo brain’, I was also very overemotional and responded badly to even a small amount of stress. This, as you can imagine wasn’t a great formula for a happy working life. I did persevere, but it was tough. I also didn’t want people to see me struggling so there was only the odd occasion that I admitted that I wasn’t coping. In retrospect I went back to work too early.
For several months I put on a brave face. This extended to my social life, although I did find myself saying no to more social events than usual. I felt like all I could really do was moan so I saw a lot less of friends. My poor boyfriend Dan was one of the few that saw me disintegrate. We hadn’t been seeing each other for long. I apologised to him for being a defective and leaky (crying lots) girlfriend. Thankfully he was an amazing support.
The turning point was when I joined the Maggie’s ‘Where Now’ course. Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre’s offer one to one sessions with skilled cancer support specialists for anyone affected. They even offer nutrition and benefits advice to people dealing with the practical elements of a diagnosis. ‘Where Now’ lasts for 6 weeks and starts with a gentle exercise session. They give nutritional, emotional, and medical management advice often around a big kitchen table over a light and very tasty nutritional meal. Mary and Elaine who led the London sessions were wonderful, so kind, patient and generous. Things generally finished with some relaxation exercises but what meant the most to me was meeting others in the same boat. I found out I wasn’t going mad!
So, Where Now? Well, thankfully, I have turned the corner. I have pretty much said goodbye to the fatigue which I felt would never go. I am generally happier, although cancer has left me with a certain shadow that has not entirely lifted. After being fairly blasé about my health previously I am also slightly hypochondriac at times! Any little ailment makes me nervous. But hope is on the horizon. I am ready for new and more positive adventures. Although, I feel very blessed to have worked at the BBC and have loved my 11 years with auntie I am taking voluntary redundancy. It probably sounds crazy during such uncertain times but I plan to draw a line under the difficult times and go travelling. I’ve always wanted to do it but now there is also another motivation. I hope that I might have more positive adventures to talk about when I return… other than the C word! Then hello freelance world…I’m on my way. Life just got very exciting… in a positive way!
Ps. There are still videos towards the end of my treatment to put up, and I will. I just needed a bit of space from Hodgy. Thank you for your patience. x