Dealing with Cancer in the Family

For Every Win there is Loss

I don’t really know what I expected to feel.

When Chris’ treatment was over.

Maybe I was expecting excitement, relief, joy, I was definitely expecting to feel something.

Instead I just felt kind of, numb.

I’d never allowed myself to think about the day his treatment would come to an end.

It had always felt so far away, untouchable, unreachable.

I was never really sure we’d get there.

I wasn’t sure if I would have managed to hold together the fragments of our family.

I wasn’t sure if we would still be smiling.

Wasn’t sure Chris would make it into 2017 with us.

Session 14, the final session of chemotherapy, arrived and finished.

His treatment was done.

He rang the bell.

The appointments, the treatment, the routine of recovery had become ingrained in our lives.

Days out, visiting friends, plans we made, all revolved around the 3 week treatment cycle.

We would no longer be bound by the constraints chemotherapy had imposed on our lives.

His consultant has told him not many people make it to the end of the treatment he had, that his prognosis last January was poor.

He had made it! He was disease, and left leg free.

The best reason to celebrate.

But I just couldn’t.

There seemed to be an unspoken assumption that our family would be able to bounce back to normality.

That cancer would now be a thing of the past, something we would never have to deal with again.

Something we could just forget about.

It just doesn’t work like that.

The re-occurrence rate for Chris’ cancer is high.

Shortly after Chris finished chemo and leading up to Christmas, his back started to hurt, really hurt. He couldn’t, still can’t, move without wincing in pain. No matter what he tried the pain wouldn’t subside.

It kick-started another round of tests and x-rays and resulted in a full body bone scan in case the pain was caused by tumours.

In case it was back.

A stark reminder that it wasn’t over.

I was back to 12 months before, hoping it wouldn’t be worst case scenario but knowing it easily could be.

Thankfully the bone scan was clear, I should have felt relieved but instead I still felt, numb.

For every win, like his, against this disease, against cancer, there is loss.

For everyone finishing treatment with battle scars for all to see, there are people just starting. Their lives changed overnight, the foundations of their family rocked as they put on a brave face and hope everything will be ok.

For every success, there are people, friends, who can no longer be treated, or didn’t make it through, or made it through once and their journeys are starting again.

These people, these situations, play on my mind and chip away at parts of my heart.

I felt guilty for even thinking about celebrating.

I didn’t want to jinx the position we currently find ourselves in.

It’s not over you see.

I’m not sure it ever will be.

There will be 3 monthly chest scans, where we’ll wait for results and hope it’s not returned. Every twinge, every ache, every bang, every bruise, we’ll wonder if it’s back.

Maybe the numbness is part of my armour now.

Maybe I’ll always feel numb when it comes to dealing with Chris’ cancer, when going to scans and follow-up appointments.

Maybe I will always be holding my breath.

If the worst does happen then I know that I can deal with whatever we might be faced with.

If I start to let myself breathe, if I let myself celebrate and it does return I’m not sure I’d be able to get through it again.

When I think of his win I am filled with love and pride at the way he remained dignified and positive throughout the worst year of his life.

When I start to feel relief, there will always be tiny voice reminding me he’s one of the lucky ones.

Reminding me that it could all change in an instant.

Maybe one day, in time, the black cloud will start to shift.

For now, I’ll embrace the numbness and keep putting off the celebrations.

9 thoughts on “For Every Win there is Loss

  1. You are being so generous sharing your feelings and I’m sure it will help others going through similar, but also help others who haven’t been through this and maybe don’t stop to think about the after effects. Most people would want to celebrate with you and for you, but it makes total sense that that would be so difficult for you. Wishing I could send more than just virtual strength; remember to be extra kind to yourself and take it a day at a time xxx

  2. Becky you have been amazing, you all have. As you know I have a friend who has been through cancer this year, she too is through it but we had the exact same conversation at the weekend, that feeling of fear and dread. Celebrate your triumph because my god you have all earned it lovely lady, even if its in your own quiet way you are an inspiration. Sending you lots of love a strength xxxx

  3. I totally understand where you are coming from, but you deserve to bloody celebrate. Yes things could take a turn for the worse but right now, in this moment, they’re not and this moment will never come back. All my love to you both hunny xxx

  4. I went through this 11 years ago. (Am fine now, at least to my knowledge!) I know what it’s like to finish the chemo. You feel like you deserve a medal or certificate. In my case I had follow up radiotherapy too and it was when that finished that I felt cut adrift and abandoned. It’s odd but the treatment gives your life a structure and the feeling that you’re being looked after. When it’s finished that all goes and every little ache and pain rings alarm bells. This will lessen in time. Good luck for the future. Really hope it doesn’t recur.

  5. Oh Becky you have all been through such a lot and it so unfair that it is not totally over. There is a lot to be said for taking each day as it comes. No one knows what is around the corner. But know this. You are loved and we will all get you through. Lots of love xx

  6. I get this. My Mum has lived in fear my Dad will get ill again for 20 years. It is like a black cloud. I guess time will help. oh and so glad the bone scan came back fine x

  7. I finished cancer treatment nearly 5 years ago but I still haven’t celebrated. When I hit the actual 5 years I will probably finally send my GP some flowers, but I know that while the risk of mets has gone down, it will never be gone completely. It’s hard for people to understand that it’s never really over. Chemo has left me with fatigue and impaired memory, and cancer has left me with fear. It has also given me an appreciation of life, and made it easier to prioritise and to be grateful. But I will never not be afraid again. Sending love and solidarity.

  8. Oh Becky! You have been through so much this last year and I think it makes perfect sense to have all these mixed feelings, I can’t even begin to imagine how you would process it. I think you have to take each success as it comes and know that there might be a time in the future when it’s not okay but whilst it IS, take the moment and celebrate xx

  9. Youve been so so strong I think you need time to grieve some of it too. I’m so sorry you have to go through the shitty emotional rollercoaster. I’m so glad Chris is well and I hope he just continues to go from strength to strength!

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