Since finding out I have breast cancer I have been telling myself and everyone I know how lucky I am. I’m so lucky I found it early and that my lump is small, lucky that I only needed a lumpectomy, lucky I only need 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 19 rounds of radiotherapy but really how lucky am I?
There are on average 53,600 cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the UK and a 1 in 8 chance of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time. It’s not unheard of for men to get breast cancer too with around 340 cases a year. However almost half of all cases are in women over 65 years old and only 580 cases of women between 30-34 each year. So actually I’m not too lucky as there was a 1 in 228 chance of me getting breast cancer before 40.
It’s so bizarre because I get this weird cancer guilt when I feel sorry for myself about my diagnosis. Going through chemo was pretty hellish especially my first round. Chemo makes you feel like you have a really bad hangover and flu at the same time after four nights of terrible sleep and a mouth that tastes like an ashtray. This lasts for around a week or so then if you don’t catch some sort of bug due to your immune system being shot to pieces you start to get a little bit better each day, you have a few days of feeling almost normal then it starts all over again. So all in all it pretty much sucks and I probably am entitled to feel fed up about the whole thing but instead I then mentally tell myself off for moaning because there are people who have it so much worse.
An Instagram friend of mine had 16 rounds of chemo. There are people who are hospitalised because their immune system gets so low and there are many women who don’t just get a little lump cut out of their boob, they get the whole thing whacked off! So compared to them I am pretty lucky and I suppose that’s why it’s all about comparisons and perspective, are you a glass half empty or glass half full kinda person. This is why I started my ‘cancer with a smile’ Instagram page because I wanted to keep positive and refused to let cancer steal my smile. I’m not trying to pretend it’s all plain sailing and easy but it’s not terrible all the time either and I think it really helps to focus on the good times. I could see how easy it would be to let cancer consume me with darkness and some days it really does especially when I think about the fact it will have stolen the best part of a year of my life. Then I give myself a shake and I try my best to see that glass half full and soon it will be, full of prosecco when I celebrate the end of this cancer marathon.