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Kidney Cancer 12 month on – Painful Memories

When I woke up on Wednesday 13th March 2013 I wasn’t aware my life was about to change imeasureably. I recall vividly sitting up in bed and saying to my husband, ‘I don’t think I’m very well’ and then shortly afterwards collapsing in the most terrific pain I’d ever felt. I remember trying to drag myself across the kitchen floor, calling to my husband who came running down to find me there. Looking back there are moments that even make me smile, the two dogs tapping me with their paws as if I was playing some kind of game rolling about on the floor. Then of course the dilemma that struck me when I realised I had to go to hospital and didn’t want to leave the house in my pyjamas. My poor husband having to try and prise me into a pair of Gwen Stefani designer trousers that I wanted to wear (I have now invested in joggers!) What strikes me most about that day was that despite the signs, regardless of how serious things were playing out, I refused to believe there was anything really badly wrong. I insisted that I go alone in the ambulance to Good Hope and even gave my husband my bag, phone, purse etc saying he could pick me up later there. When the pain increased and they pulled over to shoot me up with morphine I don’t recall feeling scared only a bit embarrassed because I was crying. After the ct scan when I was taken to the assessment wing I can still hear the nurses whispering ‘no-ones told her yet’ and I don’t think the reality had even begun to sink in. This was serious. I only began to worry when they told me I was being rushed into Heartlands because I’d told my husband to meet me at Good Hope. It was more inconvenient than scary. My cancer journey is played out in this blog, this recollection in it’s entirety is here – although some parts have been tamed down and other bits left out in case I ever had to go back to Heartlands… I have been secretly dreading tomorrow, privately trying to ignore the emotions that day 12 months ago has stirred up but it’s almost here and those feelings are raw. Outwardly, when asked ‘How are you’, I will say I’m doing well and that the cancers out so all good and I’m getting on with life. I do believe this and I know it’s gone – the scars are there to prove it. I don’t dwell, I’m not prone to worrying and imagining the cancer has spread. Even if it had or if it hasn’t finished with me I’m not tapping my fingers, sitting waiting for it to happen. What will be will be. However, my cancer has left it’s mark and not just the scars across my stomach. I have back pain which is conversely on the side where my good kidney remains. This pain has been pretty much constant since surgery and shows no sign of abating. When discussed at my post surgery appointment the consultant said it had nothing to do with his surgery – even though it wasn’t there before. Now I can even deal with this, I don’t discuss the pain openly and try to dismiss it where I can but there are times when I feel it’s there to taunt me. It’s like this constant reminder, a prodding finger saying remember when you had cancer. Looking back 12 months ago I was (I thought) fit and healthy, I didn’t know my doctors name and rarely took medication for anything. Now I feel like a contradiction where on the one hand I’m proclaiming how lucky I am and fortunate that my cancer arrived with a bang and was taken out swiftly. On the other hand I am left with a painful reminder that I’m scared won’t leave me and that I’m afraid to talk about. When I look around me now I see people differently. You really don’t know what the person in the queue next to you is going through, when you look around there are people everywhere going through untold difficulties. We don’t wear teeshirts with slogans warning others, ‘recently bereaved’, ‘receiving chemo’, ‘just made redundant’. There were times when I was recovering from surgery when I wanted to shout out ‘They’ve just taken my kidney out!’ but this would have been met with some rather strange looks and I dare say been a wee bit scary haha. Tomorrow I just want to let go, put behind me what happened a year ago and mark the day with some fun and laughter and make new memories. Maybe though it’s time to also face some home truths, things may never be quite the same again and that painful memory, cancer can’t simply be erased. Being here to tell the tale, however painful is living proof that there is life after cancer. My slogan teeshirt company will shortly feature on Dragon’s Den 😉

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