It’s been three years since my stem cell transplant yet here I am - sweating bricks about a routine oncology check-up. Suddenly, every little ache, twinge, strain, cramp, gurgle or movement I’m 100% convinced is related to cancer and will lead to my dramatic and gruesome death. My right rib feels odd, so does my right arm, my stomach is gargling more often than normal, my boobs are aching a bit and I swear to god I have never seen that freckle before. My throat is itchy, in fact it could be swollen. Am I swallowing properly? Or is this new throat lump suffocating me? Oh god. What does my breathing sound like? Constricted. Shit. It could be a goitre. It might be thyroid cancer. Google thyroid cancer. Holy crap! Forget what you’ve seen. Breathe.
I’m positive the universe is telling me I’m heading towards cancer – round 3. How will I break it to my family? Mum will cry. Dad won’t handle this well at all. And Nanna's still getting over shingles. Should I tell them before or after the family holiday? I don’t want to ruin it. I wonder how long I can put off the chemo? I’m meant to be going back to Europe to see the boy I’m seeing. Damn it. And he’s a good one too.
Then my mind starts to plan the funeral. Where shall I have it? How many people will go? Should I set a dress code? Something fun like floral clash. Or bold and sparkly? Or keep it classic black? Hm. Undecided.
And where do I want to set my ashes free? Probably half at Byron and half at Meredith sunset. Or maybe my childhood home? Would we have to ask the new owners? That would be a very odd phone call to get from a stranger!
Hang on. Stop. Now I start to worry about my mental health. This isn’t normal! What is all this negative thinking doing to my health? Am I so convinced that even if I am healthy I’m tricking my healthy cells into thinking they’re cancerous? Oh god. Stop thinking. Breathe. Inhale…. 1, 2, 3. Exhale…. 1, 2, 3. Meditate. Be present. In the now. Think of your chakras. Arghhhhhhh!
Half of me desperately wants to leg it in the opposite direction of Box Hill Hospital. Perhaps towards Perth. Ignorance is bliss, and all that. The other half wants to know what every single cell is up to at all times. I want game plans. I want cures. I want to swat that cancer should it ever enter the golden gates of my body ever again.
I’ll never be 100% carefree the way I used to be pre-cancer. There’s a fear that now follows me around everywhere I go since my relapse and I think it’s checked in permanently. I wish I knew how to get rid of it or guarantee myself that my body was going to continue behaving well. But I never will. So I suppose I have to go to the oncology appointment. I will face my fears today. It sucks. I feel sick. I’m exhausted. Wish me luck.
Box Hill Hospital. Not my favourite place in the world.
Sweet peaceful perfect relief. Tears and happiness. Today is a good day. And my brain can take a breather. PHEWWWWW!
For people who hate cancer - whether you have it or not