#WorldCancerDay – United against Cancer

“My name is Gemma and I have cancer. In fact, I have Stage 4 Bowel Cancer with an incurable prognosis. It is a disease that has been a part of my life for just over three years now. Today is #WorldCancerDay and I want to talk about the positive aspects of cancer… Yes, I know it seems strange to say that there is anything bright and happy about having a cancer diagnosis as most media will portray us patients as thin, sad, sick, balding individuals shut away from the world, clinging desperately to life.

However, in my experience that is not the case at all. Before you all shout and scream at me for being heartless. Yes, having cancer is TOUGH. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery is all extremely physically demanding and takes a huge toll on your body. Cancer is a complete emotional rollercoaster, with a churned anxiety of continuous scans, the harsh reality of being faced with your own mortality and adjusting to your ‘new normal’, both body and mind after being processed through treatment and spat out the other end. But there is a chink of light that can crack through even your darkest days and it is the power of friendship and kindness. A power that can be completely underestimated but can change someone’s day or even a life!

I have great family and friends. They have supported me every step of my journey so far from taking care of me through my chemo hangover days to keeping me company at every appointment and treatment. I feel so privileged to have such great humans around me that have given up their lives to look after me but it can be difficult for them to understand and maybe more accurately empathise with exactly how I’m feeling. It’s hard to get across just how poorly you can feel with the overwhelming nausea and fatigue plus lots of other horrendous side effects associated with cancer treatment. You can feel terrified one minute and be on top of the world the next and if you’re like myself you may hide these feelings to avoid upsetting your loved ones and just to attempt going about having a ‘normal’ day.

This is when your chink of light really comes into play and it’s in the form of an online community of warriors who completely and utterly understand how you are feeling… because they are feeling it too. Linked online and via social media but united against cancer we help each other get through the day, whether it’s through sharing tips on surviving treatment, or something as silly as wearing the same glitter bum bags for our chemo pumps, the one thing we know we can be is brutally honest about what we’re experiencing and it helps to know that you’re not the only one.  Recently, I have also experienced the pure joy of watching a group of strangers join together to raise money to help an online friend get vital treatment not available on the NHS but could help extend her life and spend more precious moments with her family and friends. It’s times like this that make me proud to be a cancer patient.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by negative news, cancer has provided me with the opportunity to experience the true power of human spirit and kindness and for that I am truly grateful.”

If you are worried about your bladder or bowel condition or need someone to talk to, you can seek the support of our online community in the Bladder and Bowel forum.