Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Double Edged Sword Analogy - By A Cancer Survivor


I wrote this quote a while ago to sum up my feelings as a blood cancer survivor.
Writing has been a great therapy for me relieving bottled up stress by putting my thoughts down on to 'paper' and out of my over active mind.  Both rewarding and cathartic and the realisation of a childhood dream.  This post explains what is behind it.

When I planned this I'd found myself using the phrase 'Double Edged Sword' a lot when describing my life since being diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia.  Much as it was and still is a devastating diagnosis there are many positive things that have come into my life now. 

I've been asked many times how my life has changed since and I've always tried to put together an answer that would sum it up but actually for me its hard to define.  The following may help you understand my thoughts;

Here are the negatives;
  • Long terms effects of chemotherapy 
  • Fear of secondary cancer due to intense chemo
  • Loss of my job
  • Loss of confidence in my body and health
  • Issues with my balance leading to embarrassing moments
  • Extreme fatigue & muscle waste
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Cognitive brain problems
  • Relationship changes
  • My changed image, hair loss
  • PTSD and GAD
  • Financial impact
  • My daughter's emotions
  • Friendship changes

But then all of the wonderful positives;
  • New friendships
  • Renewing old, lost friendships
  • Inner strength and pride that I never had before
  • Clarity on my life and what it really means to me
  • Perspective, its a relief to understand what is truly important
  • Guilt free happiness
  • Volunteering as a Charity Ambassador and fundraising 
  • Finding out how rewarding helping others is when I hear the impact my support has had on their life
  • The confidence to write...a childhood dream of mine
  • Touching gestures of kindness and generosity that I will cherish forever
  • Educating myself and achieving new goals
  • Inspiring others and being inspired

I was chatting to a fellow AML survivor recently and as we were sharing our experiences she proceeded to tell me that overall she is happier with her life now, since her diagnosis.  Even though she is constantly living with the fear of relapse overall her life is better.  Hearing this was great because finally there was someone else with similar thoughts to me. It's not something I've really admitted to many people because it's a strange conclusion to come to after something so life changing. But it seems that after being given a second chance at life everything has become much clearer to me which is a wonderful feeling, something I'd struggled to see before. At times I would have this fear that my life would pass by before I'd figured it all out, what my legacy should be.  Now I know what I want to do, need to do and I've achieved so much in the past 18 months. 

I looked up the definition of this Idiom;
  • Collins English Dictionary - Something has negative effects as well as positive effects.
  • Oxford Dictionary - A situation or course of action having both positive and negative effects.
This is why I often say 'Double Edged Sword'

Words & Life Quotes to Inspire ... #amwriting

I have always loved reading quotes and often go to them when I am feeling a little low and in need of inspiration.  Here are some written by me...I find it extremely therapeutic and my go to stress buster.

Mine are written from my life experiences and being a Leukaemia survivor, Mum, wife, friend and obsessive with a varied career background there is quite a lot for me to draw from...enjoy

Hope you have enjoyed these and at least felt a little inspired or less alone...please leave a comment as I would love to hear from you...Butterfly

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Fusion of a Fighter and Survivor

Am I survivor or a fighter... or am I both?

So this is something I have given a lot of thought to and since writing this post I've realised that, after everything I've been through, I am a 'Fusion of a Fighter and Survivor'.

In the cancer community some class themselves as survivors and some as fighters so this is something I have been contemplating lately.  When I started to break down my thoughts and feelings after writing a bio for a social media platform I found myself relating to both.  This may seem trivial but an interesting subject to explore.  Once I started to develop this post I actually found that it is not as black and white as I'd thought.  Especially before I was diagnosed, I just assumed you were one or the other...I believe this subject is applicable to anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis or suffered any other traumatic life changing event.

Firstly I looked up the dictionary definition both words;
Survivor - a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship or setbacks. 

Fighter -  a person who has determination, and courage, a person who fights for example cancer or is a boxer.

I can certainly relate to both...

My Experience

So yes I'm in remission and I have survived the brutal chemotherapy which in itself can be life threatening so I am a survivor, right?

While my body was fighting the Leukaemia my mind wasn't contemplating the enormity of it all. Mentally I was purely focused on getting through each seemingly unending and grim day. I've since come to the conclusion that my mind was protecting me from the devastating reality of my disease, not something I did intentionally but it meant that I tolerated all of the setbacks and alarming moments along the way.  It's only since finishing treatment that everything has taken its toll.  The mind is a very complex thing and survival instinct is something you don't even know you have until you are thrown into a life or death situation. At this point I was a fighter, fighting to live, a very basic thing.  I hadn't yet reached the point where I could class myself as a survivor, not until my treatment had finished at least.

Once my treatment had finished I very much felt like a survivor and with that came a feeling of euphoria, strength and pride, part of a 'club' I was more than happy to be a member of. I very much felt that my fight was over and that my life would be like it used to be however, as more time has passed it's dawned on me that I am still fighting...emotionally, physically and psychologically.  Even if I was cured I'd still be fighting the after effects of the whole devastating experience.  I really had no idea I would feel like this back when I was first home from the hospital.

There are periods of time when I am fairly at peace with my new life, feeling empowered because of what I have achieved then suddenly something will spark off a flash back and from that a downward spiral of negative thoughts flood in so I have to fight back to acceptance again.  That acceptance being that I even had cancer in the first place, that cancer belongs to me now, that it did happen to me and that cancer will forever be part of me.

It is certainly a battle trying to get across that you are still very much recovering when on the outside you look ok.  Often I feel like I don't belong anymore, when conversations leave me feeling totally alone, misunderstood or when friends chat about the future and all I can think is 'I don't even know if I will be here in 5 years time'.  These are friends I still have so much in common with apart from this great big black cloud that follows me around so I am regularly fighting to keep my emotions under control.

Yet the survivor part of me means I am driven to do what I can, help in any way I can which has lead to becoming an Ambassador for the blood cancer charity Bloodwise.  My husband and I have done lots of fundraising and supported others going through the cancer journey.  I no longer doubt my worth or what my life should be about and that is a wonderful feeling.

Am I  a Survivor of Fighter?

So it seems that I am in a cycle of surviving and fighting...perhaps all survivors are fighters in one way or another?  And even though you have survived something you still have to fight to move on from it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this...please leave a comment below...ButterflyinRemission