Being Sick At Christmas
Updated: Dec 24, 2018
It's been a year since I started chemotherapy. I'll never forget the date, it was the 18th of December 2017. I was full of optimism that it wouldn't be too bad, but that morning when I woke up, I felt like I was preparing for war.
It was my first Christmas with my baby Pia, the first in our new home and my first Christmas with breast cancer.
My first session was a long one, they weren't sure they would go ahead with it as I was still recovering from my two surgeries, but thankfully I got the green light. Afterwards, I went home but I just didn't feel right. By 11pm, I was lying on my bathroom floor too weak and too sick to get up. Jamie made a call there and then to rush me back to hospital. Jamie took this photo at 01.43am that morning and didn't show it to me until this week.
I didn't want to go to hospital that night, it was Christmas week. I'd never spent that long away from Pia, she was still waking up for night feeds and couldn't understand why I wasn't there, so it was very distressing. But I knew it was the best place for me.
Doctors spent a few days searching for an anti-sickness tablet that worked and when we found the right one I was allowed to go home.
I was still numb back then, I couldn't believe this tornado had planted itself in the middle of our lives and disrupted everything.
A year on, I'm so thankful to be better, my hair is growing back, I have eyebrows and eyelashes again, my scan was clear in November, and my child is thriving. She is the happiest, funniest, most caring little human I've ever met and we are head over heals in love with her.
My life now is everything I dreamed of last year.
It feels like the best Christmas present in the world to be better again, to have energy, to want to go out and see my friends. I am so incredibly grateful for my amazing husband Jamie, my mum and Joe, my brothers and everyone else in my family. Finally, I can take a deep breath and enjoy myself.
But life has changed forever. I will never go back to 'normal' and I still have a little voice in the back of my head that whispers 'cancer' at me. I used to hear it every 30 seconds, now it's more like every five minutes. So I guess I'm making some progress.
I'm in counselling to deal with the trauma of what's happened to me and I'm still working on accepting it all the time. But more importantly, I'm learning to acknowledge when I feel ok. And that was a huge eye opener for me. To actually take note when I feel happy and stress free and to enjoy that moment. It's been hard to re-train myself from thinking dreadful things to thinking positively. But I'm getting there and it's something I work on every single moment of every single day.
It's so hard to describe what's it's like to get a cancer diagnosis. I wonder if others feel the same when I say it felt like I'd been kicked out of my own life. It was the weirdest feeling. It's like I was on the outside looking in. Everything was the same but so different. And no matter how hard I tried, I could never feel the way I used to. It makes me sad sometimes that I never got to say goodbye to my old life. I never had one final day with the innocent feeling of being completely secure. I try so hard to remember what I was thinking as I lay in bed hours before I found my lump. But I can't remember a thing.
Now my life has been split into two. Life 'before cancer' and life 'after cancer'. There's been so many positive changes though and the positives definitely out way the negatives, but I do miss that feeling of innocence.
I didn't expect this Christmas to bring back so many memories of last year, but it's all coming back. And it's less about the physical things, but more about the feeling. Last week, I tried to remember any detail of putting up last year's tree but I was completely blank. After hours of trying to remember I eventually asked Jamie when he got home from work and he remembers putting it up on his own as I sat at the kitchen table with my mum, Joe and Pia. He could have been decorating a palm tree in the corner and I wouldn't have noticed. I do remember our annual lunch in Jamie's mum's local golf club where I could feel myself about to start crying while listening to Christmas carols. I made up some excuse that I was looking for something under the table in my bag and just bawled into my hands. I was literally hiding under the table crying. I couldn't get up, I was just devastated. Jamie's family could all feel my pain that day and even just thinking about it again brings a lump to my throat.
So although I'm overjoyed and feeling incredibly lucky to be well, I'm still scarred from the memories of last year and maybe it's just going to take a bit longer than expected to wear off.
My point is this, if you're struggling this Christmas, know that you're not alone. We're all trying our best to be happy but sometimes life gets in the way. Know this too..this time last year I couldn't see how I'd ever get my life back, how I'd ever laugh the same way again, how I'd ever enjoy myself, but I do. Deep down inside I'm happy again and it's an amazing feeling.
We all get handed a shitty year from time to time and maybe this year it's your turn. But know that there's people out there who understand and stand with you. You too can conquer whatever mountain you have to climb and you will get your life back. Some things just take time..... and a little bit of adjusting.