World Cancer Day, A Letter To My Cancer

Dear Cancer,

It has been just over four years since you came into my life, but you had been silently ripping your way through my bowel for years before that. You spread further and further causing me pain and bleeding.

It took a long time to find you. I went back and forth from doctors to specialists but I couldn’t have cancer, right? I’m too young. We almost didn’t find you as you came about in an unusual way. I had misread your signals, the agonising back pain, stuffing my face with laxatives thinking that my medication had stopped you from working. You broke free, bursting through my bowel into my most private of spaces making me bleed uncontrollably. I had to beg for you to be found because remember, I’m too young to have cancer, right?

But, you were found and you had got large and had blocked my bowel, they said they could get rid of you but I would have to go through intolerable pain, being burnt to a crisp and have toxic chemicals pumped into me that would leave me feeling weak and sick. I would have to have surgery that would change my body and how I looked physically forever.

You left me with a colostomy bag, my uncontrollable bowel now sewn to my stomach. I’ve had parts of my body removed that I didn’t even think was possible. I don’t have a butt anymore for f**** sake! I had seven hours of major surgery, plastic surgery and spent time in intensive care. My body now looks like a lopsided patchwork quilt.

I got rid of you, I was free and I worked hard to get stronger and pull back my ‘normal’ life. But, you were sneaky and you silently travelled to my left lung and set up home there growing away.

Finding out I had cancer for a second time hit me hard. Finding out I was Stage 4 and incurable completely broke me. How could I have cancer again? I felt fine. I felt strong.

Chemotherapy made me even weaker this time, it affected my broken kidneys that were already diseased. There was no way around it and I started dialysis, which has become a lifetime commitment.

Cancer, you didn’t just hurt my body, you hurt my mind and these are the scars that won’t heal. At times, you’ve made me feel isolated and withdrawn. Trapped inside my own little bubble, watching everyone carry on with their lives. My home has become both my haven and my prison. I get scared to leave my own house in case I become unwell. My independence has been replaced with a gripping anxiety. I feel embarrassed that I can’t physically keep up with others of my own age. Fatigue has become a constant, unshakeable side effect to my treatment.

Despite feeling weak, I know I am strong. I have put myself through hell to get rid of you and it has paid off. The lung lurkers I was told I would never get rid off, have now been cut out. I am now once again free of you.

Did you hear that cancer? I am free of you.

Through all the sadness and pain, there has been love and support. If I hadn’t of met you cancer, I would not have become part of a community that completely understands all that I have been through. If only, we all hadn’t of had to put up with your cancer crap to have all been joined together, but that’s the way it is.

I know in time that I will grow strong again, there are already signs of it and cancer’s grip will loosen from my body and mind. My strength will come from knowing that your time is nearly up cancer, for there are new treatments and tests that will stop you from taking our loved ones.

Cancer, you have hurt me and also taught me so much. You have given me a new perspective and made me realise what’s important in life. I have been told you may come back to me again and I live my life from scan to scan, waiting for your return, but I will never give up.

Did you hear that cancer? I will never give up.