Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Lets talk about cancer- Recovery and adjusting that they don't warn you about

When I started this blog, I aimed to write as honestly as I could about the journey of my thyroid cancer. I am writing this post to highlight something, that initially, I did not even think about nor realise the psychological impact of 'the C word'. Hopefully this blog post can start a conversation and support network- in simple terms- lets TALK about cancer.

On the day of my diagnosis, I was informed of the action plan to deal with my cancer. Firstly, more surgery, due to be around a month later. Secondly, radioactive iodine treatment, followed in September. And finally, drug treatment for the rest of my life, to allow me to function like a 'normal' human being (I started my daily dose of Thyroxine in August post completion thyroidectomy). Further to this the surgeon and nurse outlined the course of treatment from the Royal Marsden in Chelsea, involving constant monitoring with blood tests and appointments over the following 6 months. On paper- this all seems very simple and straightforward. A sort of step by step, lets beat cancer 'to do' list.

I have done detailed posts about this side of the treatment on my blog if you would like more in-depth information. What I am about to say by no means is criticising or belittling the treatment I have received from doctors and hospital etc but something I feel I really wished was focused on, or perhaps mentioned throughout the physical cancer treatment, would be the step by step 'to do list' on how to cope with this life change psychologically.

I want to put on a brave face. I want to show all those who have shown support to me over this time, that I have done them proud, and I am fighting day by day. It is time to admit, I have struggled. I have really struggled with facing the prospects of life recovering from cancer. The physical treatment is difficult, its forcing yourself through something, pretty crap, but knowing that on the other side it all gets a bit better. I wish I could say the same about the psychological recovery of it all.

The main issue I am facing is the fact that everything is different now. There is not one facet of my life that my cancer hasn't affected. My university life, my career, my post graduate life, traveling, relationships, monetary worries, health, my future, my families health etc etc. For me, in my head, the list of things go on and on. Yes we all understand that life after cancer is hard, the road to recovery is not easy nor is it a quick fix.

I do not want to show weakness. I want to use the emotions and experience I am going through to get people to talk about cancer, the recovery of cancer.  I am currently speaking to a psychologists at the Macmillan run Maggies cancer centre in west London. Talking about the problems I am facing almost seems to make them seem trivial. A problem shared really is a problem halved.

I have been speaking to my psychologist about the next steps. We both agreed that not enough emphasis has been put on the sort of 'returning to normal' phase of cancer recovery. We place so much importance on the hospital care, the drug care etc. For me, this adaptation period is extremely difficult. It puts strain on me and strain on relationships. One thing I would like to say on behalf of cancer patients, is the volatility of the emotions we are feeling. Some days I snap at those I love for no real reason other than I really want time to myself or that i'm 'sick of being sick'. Some days I feel so hopeless and helpless and I feel enough is enough, I just want to be me again. This causes a rift between my parents and I occasionally, as all they want to do is love and care for me. Sometimes our friends and family don't quite know what to say or what to do. I think the most important thing in this situation is communication. Its okay to say, leave me alone I'm feeling a bit poo, but equally its okay to say that you want some love and attention.

Communication is the most under-utilised outlet. With help from the psychologist of Maggies, we have been focusing on strategies and communication techniques that can help improve my transition 'back to normal'. For now I would just like to say, talk! Talk about cancer, talk about the recovery, talk about everything, talk about being positive and happy. But equally listen, listen and try to understand and grow and learn. The more we talk about things, the less taboo they become. By no means do I mean to imply that people with cancer/people affected by cancer need to be mollycoddled or treated differently, I just wish to highlight the ways we can all learn and grow and battle cancer together. For some more than half the battle is psychological, the more we talk about it, the better a solution can come of it.

I wish to do more posts about life adjusting to cancer, and now living with an auto-immune disease, my life relying on two little tablets taken every single day to make me 'normal'. Its a horrifying thought- thats probably why I've been struggling so much with the adjustment. Nothing will ever be the same (Dramatic Luce).

For now, general update, I am sort of in 'partial remission', aka continual blood tests and doctors appointments and waiting for my 3 month and then 9 month post radiation check-up scans etc before I can officially be 'Cancer Free'. Its a long and tedious game. I have returned to work, have landed myself a new job at Jack Wills part time to ease myself back into 'normal life'. I really hope to push myself and post more through this month. I want to give a really honest opinion about my adjustment back to being me!

After a shitty year I am determined to make this the best christmas ever. As ever, thank you to everyone for your continuing support, I dont know what I would do without you guys.


  1. Amazingly said! A lot of us won't ever really know or understand what you're going through and it will understandably be a continuous battle for you that we'll all continue to admire. You're a pretty bloody awesome chick! Xx

  2. I wish the best for you! Be strong!

  3. Catherine Shiplee3 December 2015 at 00:30

    Thank you for sharing. Xxx

  4. Hi Lucy. I saw your Dad had posted your blog on Facebook and wanted to read how you are doing. I saw the first post your Dad put up some months ago, and really, I spent 30 minutes trying to put a 'meaningful' reply together on FB. Which was pointless, because I couldn't put any meaningful words together that would add anything constructive, other than to say I was very sorry to hear the news. What I do wish to say is that you are unpeeling the realities behind this awful thing 'cancer' for everyone to understand. I have learned a great deal from this one post. really constructive and positive effort given the circumstances. Very big wishes from us. Andrew and Carolyn

  5. Hi Lucy. So proud of you facing this challenge head on and not falling into self pity. You're right - your life will never be the same again because you have now been through a serious and life changing experience. But you now have a new life that you can cram with joy, fun, sweetness and love. Dont push yourself just relax into your future. You are surrounded by family and friends who love and support you.

    Much love - Glenda, Bill & Tom xxx

  6. Thank for Sharing about your cancer problem. I would like to also share about DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Symptoms and Treatments