So, rewind a few months when I met Deborah and Lauren at the book launch of ‘F*** You Cancer’ at Henley Literary Festival and it was at this time that I realised I was part of what they called the Big C Club.
These ladies were inspirational and sometimes when I read all the different social media I now follow, I realise it’s not scary to be in the club and that there is a huge family out their to lift you on a dark day and celebrate on a good day. I am one of the lucky ones who have come out the other side and now am a Cancer survivor who just has to pop a pill every day for the next 7 years.
One thing that is very evident after cancer is that you do change and maybe after hearing Deborah and Lauren it was then that it hit home. Most of the changes I like, I have learnt to say no, well almost. However, their were a few little niggles, just little changes (well big in my head) were all normal having had a life changing experience.
For me and those who know me, I am/was one of the most organised people and that is what I prided myself in. However, over the last few years my organising of my own admin / life has been much to be desired and only a few weeks ago, I had a huge melt down and threw all my paperwork to the ground. All over my car permit and thank goodness my experience at the council was not traumatic or it may have been a lot worse. What I have noticed is that my concentration span and lack of interest is what concerns me and some days I can literally stare into space and do nothing. However, when I am working or volunteering you would never know this. So, friends and family said slow down and dedicate a day to your affairs so that’s my new year’s resolution.
So, what has that got to do with the 15km triathlon I signed up for #TriJan and Team You Me and Big C. Well, I am always looking for a challenge and so I agreed to do the 15km swim, cycle and run. My adaptation of this challenge was walking as I can’t run and as I already do an average of 3 to 5 km’s a day that is proving easy. The cycling I took to spinning in my capsule and that will be achieved in another 30 minute session. The swimming well, OMG, I hate water and not a strong swimmer so I bit the bullet and today my friend got me a pass and off I went to Chelsea Harbour and tackled the pool. I have to confess I may not complete that element of the challenge as that was 45 minutes swimming, which was 55 lengths and it was only 1.2 km – eek. Does it count I cycled in water?
So my body shape has changed and I don’t always like what I see in the mirror. The joys of getting old and of course menopause suck, but I have my health and that is what counts So, I listen to my body and adapt my lifestyle so, cut out red wine, don’t drink like I used too and I don’t eat as much red meat. I haven’t managed to cut out sugar and I salute those who have the will power.
One thing that I have also learnt recently is that ‘talking’ and ‘sharing’ is key to feeling good and that sometimes talking to a stranger can be just the therapy one requires. Though I have been known and certainly before Christmas I spent long dog walks talking to them and in the past have spoken at length to babies – umm is this so they can’t answer back. No, they are good listeners and that is also key.
At the end of last year, I took on the role of overseeing the volunteers for Meet & Greet at the Royal Marsden Chelsea and this is still a big part of my recovery. I love my Friday mornings at Wallace Wing reception and my Thursday afternoon’s in outpatients and covering other roles when required. After almost 18 months of volunteering, I feel like part of the furniture and I have made some good friends. One thing that I didn’t notice when I was on my journey back in 2015/2016 was the power of a smile or been shown where to go as the hospital is a rabbit warren and recently I have been really touched by cards, presents from patients I have touched. From a simply thank you for showing them where to go, a thank you for a smile to a box of chocolates which is quickly given to the nurses and a card . Then, and I am only human is when someone says thank you for your support during a patients journey who didn’t make it, it really means a lot. Volunteering gives me a great feeling and I feel honoured to be able to offer my services to the Royal Marsden and anyone reading this with a few spare hours a week should really consider volunteering.
I am also the chair on a committee for the Maggie’s, charity of year event for BADA in March and raising funds for the new Maggie’s at the Royal Marsden Sutton, opening later this year. This is different, as we have been hitting a brick wall on sponsorship due to the present economic climate but the show must go on and ‘The Secret Garden’ will be a huge success on Thursday 21st March, well I am involved, right.
So what is next, to keep being positive, get all my affairs into line and enjoy life, taking each day as it comes.
Thank you to all my friends and family for your continued support and especially to my rock, Hubert, the little people and my fury friends.