It’s been a couple of months since my last post, when I shared the good news the treatment for my cervical cancer had worked and I was clear from cancer. It’s a weird one.. I need to be absolutely delighted to be cancer free when in fact I don’t think I fully processed getting the cancer diagnosis or the fact that I lived away from home for nearly seven weeks and the treatment I got and what it has done for me (cured cancer) and to me (shit ass side affects which I just need to suck up.. right?..)
Just a little recap..
18th December 2018 I got told I had stage three cervical cancer
24th December 2018 I met my consultant oncologist Dr Jennifer Gilmore( I think I have a girl crush.. she is that impressive)
January 2019 (mid..you’d think I’d remember.. it’s a blur) I started treatment in St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar. I had 5 sessions of chemotherapy 28 sessions of external radiotherapy and 4 or 5 sessions of bracheotherapy
March 2019 I got sent home
5th June 2029 I got the all clear
As I write the above the dates are more and more sketchy as my brain jumps from.. what the f*ck just happened .. f*ck Cancer.. f*ck the world .. well done me…… what am I doing now… round and round. (Apologies for cursing it’s just no other word really cuts it 🙂 if anything I could think of a better C word but some people hate this word.. (used correctly I LOVE it) So in short I have found myself a little lost but I have decided to take on a part time job called taking care of me… I first went to the Gary Kelly Cancer Centre when I just got out from treatment I was in a very different place and kinda felt I didn’t need any help.. I am a strong independent woman after all… but it turns out I do need help and I am taking it all now with both hands. So I met with Aileen the centre director there a couple of weeks ago, I’d rang asking for counselling and she was on the phone for half an hour and asked me in to have a chat. In I went a bit apprehensive kinda disappointed I needed the help but open to it at the same time.. I left signed up to counselling, art therapy, thrive to survive, a walking programme, massage, yoga and meditation and with a new belief I can get over this crappy CUNT (there I said it) of a disease and get back to my old self.
But then a few sessions of counselling in I have realised the old me is no more. It is impossible to go back to 33 year old pre cancer Eileen. I thought a lot less about things then.. I just did. Now I was no dare devil but would give most things ago once upon a time and deal with the consequences.. much much later. I’d drink too much, I’d make too many plans, I’d do too much, I cared too much about trivial things, I worked too much and while I was always grateful for my support network I don’t think I fully appreciated my life.. my options and most importantly my health. I’m sure you’ve heard Your health if your wealth.. no truer word…
So what would I tell myself pre December 2018?..
Eileen .. you are doing just great
Eileen…..Grass is not always greener on the other side
Eileen…….stop running ahead Live life right NOW!
Eileen… Be kinder to YOURSELF! (This one is not in the Irish Genes particularly Irish Mammy genes)
And …… Money money money… god if I could take back a minute every time I worried about it I’d live forever. Now I know we all have bills to pay and I know we all want to live a particular lifestyle and honestly for me I had the biggest fear of missing out.. They are all having a great night or trip or god everyone else is bringing their kids abroad on holidays… poor Séamus having only one parent who seems to be constantly broke…Sure everyone is looking at me thinking young single mother .tut tut tu… Wrong! Now I try really hard to keep it all in perspective… and be nicer to myself. Not always easy and I do need to constantly check myself but getting better all the time.
My own childhood family holidays were as exotic as Kerry or donegal could get in the 80’s or 90’s when we visited family but god we Loved it. (Banana drink of some kind in Donegal.. what was that called? ..answers on a postcard) And Séamus is no different as he randomly brings up things like mam do you remember that time I made sausages (a free family day at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers years ago) or anything we did camping like the camp fire by the water with marshmallows (Really recommend Hidden Valley in Wicklow) and his mates staying over camping in the back garden.. His enjoyment or memory recall is not linked to the cost or location of holidays or activities. Equally with my own friends often our best times are times we are together, now my best friends (Elaine and Paddy) wedding this year in Italy will take some beating but nights in together with too much food and wine are when we all catch up properly and relax.
So the main lesson I’ve learnt is be grateful and content and appreciate the little things and those around me more whilst being a bit more understanding of my own limitations. Cancer takes a hell of a lot but I have been lucky enough to be cured and left with some priceless perspective on the value of life. Massive thanks to all those involved in then Gary Kelly Cancer Centre, the workers, volunteers, fundraisers and the wee community of clients I am so so lucky to have it on my door step and would really suggest those who may need a helping hand to call in. It is for those affected by cancer, patients and families.
On Thursday I have my first check up since the all clear (every three months) with the gynaecologist in the Mater Hospital (I think I have a for real crush on him.. or maybe it’s just his funky socks 🙂 🙂 ) and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous or maybe a lot . If I get a back pain or a cramp I straight away think .. Is it back… no that’s just the fact that you were digging in the garden or ate enough for a family of four… But in all seriousness haven spoken to those lucky enough to get the all clear the fear does not leave and is totally normal it’s how you deal with it that counts, it’s not my fault and it’s ok to be afraid but let’s not let it take over. I must also say thanks to all those who stop me and congratulate me on the honesty of my blog and sure why stop now… so do any of you remember the vagina dialators? Yeah well I’ve not been the best patient in terms of using these and in fact I already had to attend hospital to have my Vagina manually reopened (and yes it is as terrible as it sounds), they are awful and to be honest I think of my vagina in a certain way… it is an absolute f***ing disaster and I hate it. This I know sounds ridiculous Cancer is gone get on with it but .. think of the one thing that caused such pain and then having to be nice to it. To explain the internal and external radiotherapy basically burns (simplifying it a bit) away my pelvis region and after it begins to heal the skin all sticks together (think like a burn on your hand healing) but you don’t want this as it is your vagina which you need open not just for sex but for me even more importantly for future internal examinations. See smear tests won’t work for me again as my cells will never be normal again so I will rely on the doctors having a good look around. So I need to get better and in advance of the visit this week for the last two weeks I’ve had to try be better…. I think in future I need a Xanax or a cocktail like your one out of absolutely fabulous 🙂 🙂 It is a bit weird to discuss this on a blog but I am so conscious that we forget to discuss the life after cancer and get embarrassed by certain things like the different bags, the constipation, diarrhoea, scars (mental and physical)and many many more that some people get because of the very treatment that saved our lives. But this is for many our new normal and at the end of the day is our bodies and if we can kill cancer we can learn to live with for me.. menopause, infertility, memory loss, swollen stomach, Bowel issues, low energy, tiny tattoos, low self esteem, slight loss of hearing and get to know the new not so nice (in my opinion) me.
Last night there was a documentary on RTÉ about Laura Brennan, I can’t watch it again because it just makes me so proud of her but totally devastated that we lost such a strong advocate for women, health and young people all while hitting a little close to home for me. I would really suggest anyone on the fence about the HPV vaccine should give it a watch.. It disappoints me to see the number of people who shout opinions against the hpv vaccine without the evidence to back it up. If you are a parent take the time get the right information and make the right decision. I for the minute am alive thanks to medicine which has left horrendous side effects .. proven side effects these are real effects that I will live with for as long as I am allowed to. To think if I had the option to get a vaccine in school I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit and to think if Laura had the choice she may still be with us… that is the point it is life and death choices make the right one for your child’s future…
I hope to stay more on the ball with this as I do enjoy it, it can just get hard when I like to pretend I never had cancer, that was someone else. Thanks to everyone who reads it and please feel free to share. Education and awareness are key to stop Cancer in its tracks! I have with the help of my friends organized a school reunion for those who attended Laytown National School in the 80’s and 90’s I. Aid of the Gary Kelly Cancer Centre and Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. Please support .. tickets available here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/back-to-the-future-laytown-school-reunion-1980s-and-1990s-tickets-68431732153 and I am also looking for a band and some raffle prizes.. cheeky I know 😉
Ps well done to all who did the dip in the nip for Necret, it was amazing. Let me know if your u want to join us next year. Certain Lynch, her granddaughter and friends raised €7000, true inspiration well done for supporting her Ardee! €50,000 has been raised for the Oncology Unit in the Lourdes Hospital. Me, my mam and sister Siobháin have raised nearly €1000 thanks everyone specially my work who considering I don’t see at the moment were particularly generous and Siobháin’s work colleagues in Morgan McKinley .. the list is endless family, friends and strangers Thank you, this money will make a real difference to cancer patients, couple of pics below some blurred deliberately . https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/The-Rushe-Ladies