How relieved you must be to finally reach the end of your treatment. I’m sure everyone around you is delighted and telling you how great it is that you’ve come through it and can now get on with your life. But that’s the thing isn’t it? How do you get on with your life now that the cold hand of cancer will forever rest on your shoulder? How do you move forward and not let that hand weigh you down and crush you?
When I finished my treatment, I looked in the mirror and saw this person I didn’t know. I struggled to accept this new person I had become, and I grieved for the old me, the person who was gone forever. The doctors and nurses who mind us while we are going through treatment and provide us with a constant comforting hand are in essence gone once treatment is complete, so I felt terribly alone and terribly frightened as I faced my life after treatment. While I have friends and family around and they can sympathise, they will never truly understand the trauma of what we have experienced and will continue to experience.
So in my fear and grief I looked for help, a safe place where problems could be shared and understood. I signed up for the Marie Keating Survive and Thrive program. Because despite all the negative feelings I was having I so much wanted to embrace this life that has been given to me.
Everyone in the Survive and Thrive group had a unique and personal story to tell. Yet despite our different stories we all shared the same fears and faced the same struggles every day. Hearing the others talk helped me to realise that I am not alone, and I can get through this.
Under Paul, Helen and Fiona’s guidance we addressed the problems we all face and through working together realised that the solutions to so many of our issues were within ourselves. Although we have all never met face to face a bond has been formed that I feel will last a long time. Our WhatsApp group gives us all a safe place to release our fears and also encourage and comfort one another on the bad days.
The Survive and Thrive has helped me begin to move forward. To start thinking about returning to work and figure out the things that are important in this changed life. I will forever be someone who has had cancer, but I now refuse to let this define me. I am ready to begin to live.