I met a lovely fellow blogger and super mumma recently – Clemmie Telford of the Mother of all Lists blog. She was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post and here it is :-
Cancer. The gift that keeps on giving. Kind of.
Okay so bear with me. I’m going through a good patch, a slightly more positive phase where life feels kinder than before and as a result counting my blessings comes a little more easily. It feels like a good exercise to list the positives of what is potentially a rather dire situation so here goes – my list of the positive aspects of life with cancer as a mum of four.
After coming agonisingly close to the magical five year all clear, it really is rather galling to find myself back at hospital on a regular basis after the cancer I had thought had gone forever resurfaced. Even though I’m currently back in remission, doing well and not enduring the misery that is chemotherapy just being back in ‘the system’ makes me grumpy and irritable and angry as hell. But, as I sit in my chair in the chemo ward dunking a bourbon biscuit into a cup of tea there’s always a moment, however brief where I catch myself and say a silent thank you.
Thank you to the NHS for the incredible treatment that flows into my port and through my startled veins.
Thank you to my weary body for continuing to respond so well to what my oncologist rather depressingly calls ‘maintenance’ treatment.
And thank you to my four beautiful babies who couldn’t give a stuff that I’m having treatment again and just want to know why I’m not letting them have Nutella on toast for breakfast every. single. day.
Having cancer has shown me that random acts of kindness are everywhere. That there are more good people in the world by far, than bad. Homemade chicken pies, laundry washed and kids taken care of, spa day vouchers and endless cake. When I was first diagnosed all those years ago I was shown more love and care than I could handle. And definitely more deliveries of homemade lasagne. The kids still love lasagne, which is handy as I’m pretty sure there are still several dishes of it shoved somewhere in the back of the freezer.
Sometimes I catch myself breaking into a run, zooming up the stairs to chase a wayward six year old or catch our minx like puppy to wrestle a marble from her mouth. I catch myself doing entirely normal things, mum things, life things – and it feels amazing. Every day that I feel well and strong is a good, good day and I wouldn’t dare take that for granted now.
On the other hand, any day that I feel run down, a bit glandy, maybe I’ve got an ulcer or even a flipping ingrowing toenail – any physical thing that crops up however randomly and unconnected to boobs, well.. I just crumble. I crash and burn convinced that death is near. Catastrophizing has become my thing and it does me no favours whatsoever. It’s a hard one to shake. Not much fun for those around me either. Happy days.
Cancer hasn’t made me a better mum. It’s probably made me a worse one because when the fear takes hold it makes it harder for me to love them in the way they deserve. So great is my fear of leaving them behind that, on some level, I push them away. Just when I should be gathering them up in my arms, smelling their skin and savouring each second I just want to be alone. Completely alone. I sometimes worry that this has affected the way I bonded with the triplets. I often feel consumed with guilt that I’ve spent all of their short lives gripped by the fear of early death and of them growing up without their mum. I’ve never had the luxury of being able to take our future as a family for granted. I don’t take any of it for granted. It’s quite exhausting to live with that level of fear. As if parenting triplets isn’t exhausting enough. Jeez.
Er..this isn’t a very positive aspect of life with cancer. Sorry. Its a very honest one though.
Let’s end this list on a high.
Cancer has given me a ridiculous appreciation of the mundane.
Having cancer meant I was chosen to be the subject of one of Peter Andre’s Sixty Minute Makeovers. This led me to my wonderful husband. My handyman hero.
Cancer has led me to people, situations, and insights that I might never have known. My life feels incredibly rich these days and beautifully boring. It goes without saying that I’d love to be able to shake off the constant fear. I’d love to confidently cast my net five, ten years into the future without my stomach twisting and my head spinning with a million what if’s…that’s a luxury I’ll probably never be afforded. But, in the meantime, there’s my kids to kiss, a husband to spoon and a body that, right now, is proving to be a very good friend indeed.