Sunday, 17 April 2022

Ten Years Young

Today is the tenth anniversary of me blogging about my cancer journey. On 17 April 2012, I was almost one year on from my initial diagnosis, still in severe pain from the huge operation I’d had months previously, still coming to terms with being told I was unlikely to live very long and still trying to make sense of my partner abruptly leaving me. I had recently started getting counselling from Cancer Focus. This was a godsend. But it was only for one hour a week. I was climbing the walls for most of the other 167. I spent many dark hours searching the internet for help with my predicament. I was looking in particular for something from or about men with cancer. But I found nothing much at all. Then I came across a blog by an American cancer patient. It was a revelation. Rick was expressing exactly how I felt. I read back through his previous posts. He spoke about cancer being a deeply disempowering disease. And how speaking out about it had been empowering for him.

This made so much sense to me. I knew that speaking about my experience privately with the counsellor was helping me. So I began to speak about cancer more openly with friends. But most people I tried to talk to about it were unwilling to engage. They tended to close down the conversation by assuring me that I would be alright. Something I regarded as unlikely to be true. I now appreciate that this was because cancer was too fearful a topic for them to pursue. In the end, I decided to emulate Rick Dancer and blog about my own experience. Unsurprisingly, in that first post I wrote about my fear and how everything seemed to have changed for the worse in my life. And with great trepidation, I pressed the button to publish it.

To date, I’ve published 340 blog posts, received 42,695 visits to my blog from readers all over the world, and gained thousands of positive comments. Over the past ten years, I’ve done my best to write openly and honestly about what has been happening in my life. These years have encompassed two recurrences, Stage 4 cancer and more big operations. But not only that. There has been so much more. They have also featured my dearest T, marriage, publishing success, poetry prizes and a lot of good health.

But the greatest accolades I’ve received have come in messages from many individuals living with the Big C, who have found something that spoke to them and was of help in their time of need. Having cancer is like joining a special club. When you are in it, you understand. And when you have been in it, you never forget. Looking ahead, I sincerely hope that this is a club I never have to rejoin.

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