Sep 6, 2017 11:01AM Leapfrog wrote:
OK, I'll make a start. Interestingly, my diagnosis was on October 13th, 2016 so National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day will also be my One Year Anniversary. I've learned so much in the last year it's difficult to pinpoint one thing but, if I have to it's that people treat me differently. Some avoid me, most treat me gently as though I'm a piece of porcelain that could break if they're not careful...which probably has some truth in it! With extensive bone mets and, having had a BMX without reconstruction and having lost weight when I already had a very slight build, I do look rather delicate! There are others who want to see me as often as they can, as though they are afraid I will suddenly succumb and disappear from their lives, when the truth is that, with treatment, I should still enjoy at least a few more years with them. So, to sum up what I would like people to know about living with metastatic breast cancer....I would like people to know that I'm still the same person I always was, I'd still like to be treated the same way I always was, I still enjoy the same conversations, I still like to kid around and make my weak, pathetic jokes which I laugh at more than anyone else does, I'd still like to do the things that they can do but I can't. But the fact that I can't doesn't mean I'm not interested in hearing about their exploits...it makes my life more interesting, even if I do feel the occasional pang of envy.
I have always been philosophical and have accepted whatever life has handed me; I'm practised at this because I've had a lot of challenges and, before my diagnosis, I had been ill for three years; three years with an illness which could not be diagnosed but which was making me sicker and sicker until I was so ill I could not get out of bed, so when at last de novo metastatic breast cancer revealed itself, although that was a shock, at last I had an explanation for why I was so ill. The most important thing I've learned about having metastatic disease this last year has focussed my mind about what really matters in life and what I now believe is that almost nothing really matters if you have your health. This has become almost a mantra for me, although it isn't something I can say out loud because it could easily be misunderstood as envy or trivialisation of others' concerns, but I hear the trivial things that people think are important and I hear them making a fuss over them and I feel as though I live on a different planet now. When you have lost your health and you know it's a forever thing, you need to learn to find your joy in a different way; you need to find happiness on a different level, not attached to the material but belonging in abstract thought and, once you have learned to do this, life is beautiful despite all the discomfort, pain, inconvenience and dependence on others.