It’s funny you know, how once you are ‘over’ cancer, everyone just presumes that’s that. You’re better! Hurrah!
I think it’s probably because they want it to be, to make it all ok, I guess.
But I can tell you, from my own view on things, that yeah, it might have gone, but it never really ACTUALLY leaves.
It’s always there, that little shadow in the back ground. That sleeping shark. The one that might just wake up and bite you on the bum when you are least expecting it. The thing you are always looking over your shoulder for. The inbuilt fear. Maybe this will fade in time.. I hope so.
I have an analogy. ( I usually do)
We are all swimming in our own little pools. Our pools are usually warm, and shallow, and we just swim. Quite pleasant really. The sun is shining, and the water is warm and we are safe. We are laying on a lilo in the lovely warmth, or doing a gentle backstroke, without a care.
Except the pool isn’t shallow. There are hidden depths that we don’t even know exist. The sun doesn’t always shine and the water isn’t always safe. And it’s very very deep.
Turns out, Gav’s pool has a shark in it. Turns out he wasn’t swimming in safe, warm shallow water. Turns out he was swimming right on top of a bloody big shark that really wanted to bite him.
Luckily, we managed to wrestle that shark back down in the depths where he belongs, and Gav is managing to swim safely back to the shallow water.
Safe for now.
My own pool looks fairly inviting, and seems fairly safe, but I have a beady eye on the water below me, just incase. And an even beadier eye on Gav’s pool.
We might all have a ‘shark’ but we might be lucky enough to never see it, and we can carry on swimming in our lovely safe, warm shallows. Never seeing what might lurk in the depths below. Wonderful innocence.
That’s kind of how it feels for me. Us. And your shark might not be cancer, it could be anything that affects your health or your life.
As you all know, we are more than two years on from diagnosis, and 6 months post treatment (which is a huge milestone and one that might need a little celebration, if we dared)
So here is how I see POST cancer. (please bear with me, I speak in riddles really, but in my head it makes complete sense) And I realise that loads of you reading might have different experiences, this is purely just how I see it, for us.
So, we , Gav, had his last treatment in November 2016. Now we see the haematologist, for quarterly checks. No scan, unless he has new symptoms. Check. All good. Nods.
Except it feels/felt so blooming scary.
You know when someone is kidnapped and in the end they fall in love with their captor? It’s got a name but I can’t think of it. To leave the treatment suite that last time felt a bit like that. Like our captor was releasing us, but we had no idea how we’d manage with out him. (have to add, we didn’t actually fall in love with anyone but you know what I mean! lol) There was no ‘hurrah’, no champagne, just a kind of…. ‘ummmm when is our next appointment…’
To say we’d miss the regularity, the staff, the safety of knowing ‘they’ were in charge, might sound a bit weird. To miss a cancer unit???!!
Imagine you are at the edge of a vast frozen lake. (here we go, another analogy)
The ice looks ok. But you know what they say about walking on frozen lakes? You probably shouldn’t. And you definitely shouldn’t stomp or run or go without extreme caution.
For us, moving forward ‘after cancer’ (and that’s tricky in itself, as Gav’s cancer is termed as ‘incurable’ so you kind of wonder what you are supposed to think. All I do know, is that he is really really well, so stuff the word ‘incurable’ and let’s focus on the last scan showing no abnormalities, and him being really well) Anyway, moving forward, after the treatment ended, felt like we were about to step on to the ice. And we had no idea if it would be safe.
We stepped so gingerly, clutching each other’s hand. Holding on tight to each other as that seemed the safest thing to do, if the ice cracked. Desperate to move forward but also scared to leave the edge.
As his wife and being the one who doesn’t have cancer, I am also the one who is checking EVERYWHERE for signs of the ice cracking. Like EVERYWHERE, and for fun, spinning plates as we are walking . URGHHHH
Now, hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it. If you had told me that 2.5 years after diagnosis we’d still be A-Ok, we’d have probably run on to that icy lake and made a bolt for the middle and performed a triple toe loop on the way! knowing – with hindsight, it would be safe. But that’s the thing isn’t it ? we didn’t know that it would be safe. We have walked this far, but, now… how do we know if it’s safe to keep going. To know where the weak points are? We don’t ….and keep going we must, because that’s LIFE!! and life is GOOD!!
And I think, in this very round about way, I am trying to explain how it feels to be ‘post cancer’
And how for us, the frozen lake we are walking over, might not hold, but it has, so far. And THAT makes us appreciate EVERYTHING.
Right now, as I write this, fyi, I feel like the ice beneath our feet is quite thick, and I am not so paranoid about cracks. Wahhoo! In fact, we have relaxed quite a lot, and sometimes we don’t even feel like we are walking on ice at all! We are just NORMAL. (ok ok with the exception of the wife lol)
I do wonder if anyone else feels like I do ? That’s if you stuck with me this far, and you ‘get’ all my analogies! And hopefully you now understand the title of this post! if not, there’s a lovely cake recipe in the Recipe section, and a nice post about a dress, in the Style section. 😉
Also, I need to apologise because this post was going to be the ‘Silver Linings’ one I keep promising! No idea what happened because all of the above just fell out of my head, instead! Oh dear! Had to change the title, and everything !! Sorry!!
I’d be interested to know how you feel about all this – and I realise we are all different and your experiences will be different to ours, and that Gav and I are extremely lucky. We just need to keep being lucky. For, like, ever.
I hope I don’t ever sound flippant, or blasé, I’d be mortified if I sounded like that.
Anyway – as ever, thank you from the bottom of my heart for bearing with me! Actually, it’s really good to write this stuff down! It helps me! I really really hope it helps someone reading this, too.
Lots of love
Dear Sally, Bless you, Gav and your wonderful family. Completely got your analogies, so clever, they explained all the feelings so well. My love and very best wishes to you all for thicker ice and comatose sharks xx
Omg you made me cry. In a good way. Thankyou so very much xxxx
Sally I know exactly about the ice, the cracks, the wish for safe ground underfoot. Love to you. And it’s Stockholm Syndrome xx
Ahhhh!! Thankyou!! I knew it was a thing! And Thankyou fir being lovely xxxxx
Sally, as ever you make complete sense in the most weird and wonderful ways. Six years ago, when I was 20, I had 4 operations which turned my life upside down. From the outside, to others, it may not have seemed like much. But to me I was going through hell and relied heavily on nurses and doctors to make everything better.
I’m okay now, the scars will always be there though and everyday I think about the ‘what ifs’ and whether it’ll come back to bite me, quite literally where the scars are, on the bum.
What ever we are going through, no matter how big or small, I think deep down we will always be thinking about it one way or another.
Thanks for being so open and honest xx
And thank you, too ❤️ sending you so much love xx and I’m relieved you got my strange analogies! Almost deleted the whole thing ! Glad I didn’t xxx
Sally, thank you so much for your heartfelt honesty here.
I can totally relate to your analogies, in fact, they have now made my own feelings post cancer, much easier to understand.
Lots of love xx
Oh crumbs in that case I’m sooo happy I didn’t just delete the whole thing ! Almost did, a few times. You’ve literally made my day !! Does that sound weird . You know what I mean I’m sure xxxx
Hallo! I’m sure everyone reading this will understand and also appreciate your positivity. So well said and yes you did good writing about something that is not often discussed. All the good luck to you lovely lot! Xxx
Thankyou so much Sharon ❤️
Well written as usual Sally. I ‘got’ the references and understand how it feels for you all. I guess the silver lining is that you don’t take anything for granted, and you look for the good things in every single day. Very best wishes to you all. Xx
Thankyou ever so much Lisa – yes, that’s definitely the silver lining xxxx
This is lovely- and sums up the “after” something very well!!! I sometimes feel as its only me and the girls that not only am I still walking on that lake but tottering on the edge of a cliff!!! Lots of but what ifs for me too- but one has to tiptoe onwards and enjoy every moment .
Big hugs to you and that gorgeous hubby of yours!!!!!
URGHHHHH it’s so crappy isn’t it, but the upside is, we get the inside knowledge of how good life is, too! Which reminds me, pub lunch soon? Xx
Name the day- or night!!!
Your blog is so touching . My poor mum was hit by an awful illness last October called Good pastures syndrome which only affects 1 in 250,000 people and it has wiped out her kidneys completely she is on dialysis 3 times a week now and is deemed too old to be put on the kidney donor list . How sad is that when she had never taken a tablet in her life and is now on a huge cocktail of medication and it rules her life. You and your husband are an inspiration your blogs are uplifting and I wish you both and your family continued good health. Things don’t matter just to be well and happy . Thank you for writing your blogs . With all good wishes.
Crumbs, Good Pastures Syndrome sounds like it needs to be renamed to me 🙁
what a time of it you’re all having – sending you all a massive big virtual hug ❤️❤️ lots of love to you Anne xxx
Lovely Sally, you seem to forget, you have ice skates, you can skate well…. you got this girl. xxxx @just_dizzyb
I knew I was learning for a reason! Thankyou lovely xxxxx
Hi Sally,You put it all into words so well. It describes our life too.I had cancer 13 yrs ago this Dec and I thankfully rarely think about sharks now.Sometimes I see their shadows though……if I don’t feel well or worse still my husband or children are sick. My fear,dread and panic take over my brain and I try so hard to rationalise those thoughts.
I just wanted to let you know that you are doing brilliantly. From my experience,all that you describe is a normal reaction and time is a great healer.Physically I recovered easily but emotionally it took a lot longer.
Having had cancer has changed my life and my family’s but in many ways for the better. I never worry about little things, as I juggle work ,home,kids ,hubby and life in general .
So here’s hoping for the thickest of ice that we can all skate on top of…..you doing all that fancy stuff ! Thank you for your post. Sending big hugs x
13 years that’s FANTASTIC!! It’s heartening to hear the sharks diminish!! And Thankyou, it’s lovely to hear from someone who’s been through it, that my feelings are normal ! You’re right! We LOOK the same, but we are changed and THAT is the silver lining – those little things just don’t matter, do they
Here’s to very thick ice! Big hugs! S xxx
What a great post Sally, I completely ‘get’ your analogies…we were terrified to step onto the ice when my dad was released into the big wide world (big, deep lake?) with no scans. Your positivity shines through, and I truly believe that your approach is the best pair of ice skates (& shark cage!) you could wish for. Sending you all lots of wishes for thick ice! Xxx
Yes! Released is the exact word!! Physically if not quite mentally, yet! Thankyou Kerry ❤️ mainly I’m so relieved my analogies are decipherable! Thankyou xxx
Sally, let me start by saying how much I love your blog and your instagram page- especially your swamp related vlogs! My Mum was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in Spring 2010 and has been in remission since. We still usually say ‘touch wood’ or ‘God willing’ when we make that statement, and I remember so well how daunting it was when her Haematology check ups became less frequent. In short, I can relate to EVERYTHING you wrote in this post. Life certainly changes forever post-Cancer. But I hope that the one positive is that those who have walked that road themselves or with loved ones learn to appreciate and cherish life just that little bit more xx
Jackie! Wow! That’s fantastic! 7 years and counting – amazing ❤️ Thankyou so much for commenting – much love to you all and yes, you are bang on about the positive!!! Plus, I do believe that these ‘liquid cancers’ are so responsive to treatment and are treatable for many many years, and for that I feel so lucky xxxx
You have spoken to my soul Sally x Beautifully written….and unfortunately I too understand and know this ice all too well. My darling husband has an autoimmune disease. Uncruable but you can live with it so they tell us. 2 years on from diagnosis he is reacting well to treatment. A biologic treatment that unfortunately has a list of potential side effects far worse than the dreadful disease itself. Everyday I look for cracks in the ice, terrified to move forward, don’t want to go back and afraid to stand still!! So forward we must go. He of course is so much more stronger than me. I’m the worrier he is the warrior!! Here’s to us all learning how to figure skate on the ice and kick the ass of whatever damn shark that tries to ruin our fun! Much love to you and your husband. Rose x
Rose, one thing I learned very early on, was the difference between incurable and terminal. I honestly feared they were the same. Once I understood the difference I felt better. I think you and I will always be fearful of cracks in the ice. I think learning to live without it ruling us, is the really hard bit. Here’s to our warriors! And, to us worriers! And I can highly recommend figure skating lessons ! (In real life I’m actually learning to skate! Never thought how ironic that is! Lol) loads of love to you both, too xxx S xx and I’m really glad your hubby is doing so well! Xxx
Hi there – this is the first time reading your blog, although I do follow you on Instagram and I’m glad I did. First let me say that it’s so good to hear that you’ve had 2 years of good results and that is something to rejoice. My husband recently found out that he has thyroid cancer, he will have surgery in just a couple weeks and although so far we’ve found that it can be removed and the prognosis is good at this point, I’m struggling with my feelings on whether I should be happy because it’s one of those things that is unpredictable and you really don’t know what the future holds. So I kind of understand what you mean by even though it’s gone it’s never really gone. Thanks for this post. It’s comforting to read other people’s experiences and I pray for your husband’s continued health!
Hi Jennifer, I think a cancer diagnosis of any kind feels like a tsunami and it took me MONTHS to sort my feelings out – if you read the post with the Rottweiler picture, it might sum up how you’re feeling a little bit, perhaps
‘Good prognosis’ are two very nice words indeed , and I’m sending you and your lovely hubby lots of love! xxxxxx
All so very true and very well articulated. Over twenty years ago we were told, that due to his Crohns meds. my husband had less than a year unless he had a transplant. Nearly 4 years ago he got the transplant and then the fun started. Over the next 6 months they found 3 completely unrelated cancers and he had a radical nephrectemy, a total thyroidectomy and a straight forward tumor removal and we refused radiation, twice. He has 6 different consultants in 3 different hospitals. That first time we went for a fortnight without an appointment was EPIC it was like we’d won the lottery! He’s been clear for 2 years now but the appointments don’t get any easier that shark is always there and every sniffle or twinge puts the mind into over drive. Wouldn’t change a thing though as our lives are so much better for having gone through this together, we appreciate each other so much. Thanks for writing this so beautifully x
Crumbs Rach what a time of it !!!
You’ve hit the nail on the head though, our lives are so much better for going through this together, it’s sort of lifted the veil on life and I’m very very grateful for how much we can see ! Lots of love to you both xxx
Lovely post Sally, I know exactly what you mean. I was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago. Such a scary time, especially with two little girls- one only six months old! Anyway, despite all the odds I am still here, happy and healthy. I achieved what I wanted more than anything, to see my daughters grow up. The underlying fear never leaves you though but you think of it less often. The only time I really do is when waiting for my mammogram result! You are so strong and positive, I am sure your blog posts are an inspiration to many people that are walking their own cancer path xx
That’s so amazing to hear, but omg I bet the bottom dropped out of your world, 18 years ago I’m SO happy to read such positivity! You’re amazing ! Thankyou xxxx lots of love xxx
By far the best thing I have read on here And I don’t just mean on your blog,in case you are thinking ‘rude woman,’! Honest,hopeful,illuminating and funny. A touch of humour is a great way of communicating feelings in a way that makes people understand just what you mean. Keep your nose above the water and all I can say is that I bet Gav knows how lucky he is to have you by his side.x
Thankyou ever so much, I am so touched! And did have a chuckle ! I wouldn’t have thought that at all, but it does sound funny now you said it ! Lol!
Thank you so much for posting this Sally. We haven’t been through anything as awful as you but your analogies totally make sense and they’ve helped me understand how my best friend must feel. She’s been through cancer herself a few years ago and is now helping her mum through the same thing. She’s also coping with looking after her son and husband who have depression/anxiety. Like you she does so well coping with what life throws at her. Thank you for you lovely blog and instagram posts. You’re always so positive and love your sense of humour too. I hope you and Your husband stay on thick ice x
Thankyou so much Diana
What a terrible time your friend is having , she’s lucky to have you ! Let’s all keep skating across that ice !! Lots of love xxxx
Hi Sally well as you know that blooming shark bit me on the bum ( well not the bum, boob actually and it was more of a nibble!) but I love swimming in that deep water so I just keep going because if you float that’s when they you! I worry he has a taste for me and will come back for more and now and again when something tickles my toes I have a panic, come back up for air but then dive back in. It doesn’t help when the lifeguards ring the alarms telling you that they’ve spotted Jaws only to say it was one of those big inflatable ones but it’s safe to go swimming again! All we can hope for is that if he ever does catch up with me that there’s an army of guys there waiting with harpoons to get him first.! Keep on swimming lovely lady the coral is beautiful down here.x
I love everything you just said ❤️
Sally this is so brilliantly written, and yes your analogies make complete sense to me, in fact they made me shed a few tears. I’ve not suffered cancer, but living with my own very complex congenital heart defect means so much of this really resonates with me. Thank you for sharing this, you have inspired my to be more open on my own blog. I wish you, Gav and your family all the best.
Much love xx
Thankyou so so much for commenting, Tanya! So we are both living with sharks, hey? Much love to you too, and may your shark be dormant for a long long time to come xxxxx
Your post has moved me and I totally get what you are saying.
We all just go merrily along (and rightly so!) Until wham something blows you totally out of the water!
I wish continued health and happiness for you, Gav and your family and hope that you can give yourself permission to feel carefree more and more each day!
Love and best wishes. Xx
Thankyou so much Della, I appreciate the ‘free’ feeling so very much – never quite as before / a different kind of ‘free’ better maybe because we appreciate it SO MUCH xxx lots of love xx
Another beautiful post Sally. Still mid tsunami myself, hearing from those further down the line is a comfort. The prospect of any kind of ‘normal’ feels far away. Understanding that there will hopefully be a ‘new normal,’ with which I can make friends is important. Wishing you and Gav years and years of thick ice. Wendy
Hello lovely – do we have a definitive diagnosis yet ? Email me if you’d like to xxxx was thinking about you yesterday and wondering how you’re doing xx (hope I have the right Wendy! Apologies if you’re a different Wendy ! Xx)
Hi Sally! Yes – right Wendy. Still another gruelling 9 days to go as the consultant wanted to wait to see if my fatigue could improve. I regret agreeing to the extra week because my anxiety is hard to manage. I might well email you for some info gathering, lovely person. Thankyou for your message – you are kind. X
Hi Sally, you’re posts always give me hope that there is light at the end of this long tunnel. My husband was diagnosed with NHL this time last year, we finished chemo in October & he started he retuximab injections this month. Reading you’re blogs makes me feel like I’m not alone, that some one else has the same fears/ feelings as me. Thank you. Love & best wishes xx
Hiya Helen Thankyou so much for commenting as it makes me feel less alone too! Have you read the ‘our story’ post ? That says all about what happened to us, but there’s a bit about the injections in there too ? You may have seen it already, but if not, you might find it useful xxx lots of love xxxx
Hi Sally, what an incredible post, and it all makes complete sense – in fact beautifully written. The ‘swimming with sharks’ analogy particularly resonates, sadly we all seem to have our deep water demons to avoid. Keep being brilliant, keep being brave, and keep being one of the funniest and most positive ‘insta-mates’ I know. Best wishes to you and Gav – the ice is most definitely getting thicker and thicker! Lots of love Paula xxxx
Hi Paula, thanks ever so much ! You know what I always say? That Instagram is full of the nicest people I’ve (n)ever met! Thankyou for being one of them!!! Xxxx
This post really touched me. I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 17. It was utterly terrifying and obviously treatment etc was a bit traumatic at times. I hated going for chemo and radiotherapy and would spend hours sobbing, begging my mum not to take me because I couldn’t face another three hours on the drip and the sickness, hair loss, Infections and all the other oh so glamorous side effects that I am sure you will know all about! On my last day I expected, like you said, to feel elated but as I said goodbye to the nurses and other patients that I had got to know over the months I suddenly began to feel really frightened. I will never forget the journey home with my wonderful mum trying her best to be so positive and upbeat whilst I felt like I’d lost my security blanket and suddenly found myself almost wishing that I needed more treatment…utter madness when I had been such a wuss about going every single time! I think your post will help so many people who find themselves, or loved ones in this situation. It is ok not to be ok and the memories of cancer, whilst they may never leave completely, they do get easier to live with. I’m now 16 years into remission and my shark definitely feels like he is a long way down. I’m still aware of him but I feel like I’m the stronger one of the two of us at the moment and he doesn’t enter my thoughts nearly as much as he used to. So I guess what I am trying to say, in a very waffly land long winded fashion, is that it does get easier. Cancer doesn’t have to rule your life but I don’t think it hurts to be cautious. I hope you and your husband remain as healthy and happy as possible. Carpe diem . Xx
Oh my goodness 17 is soooo young !!! How terrible for you and your Mum – I can’t even imagine !! My middle one is 17 .
It’s blummin MARVELLOUS to read that you are 16 years in remission !!! That’s so wonderful !!! And Thankyou so much for explaining it gets easier, THAT is such a lovely thing to hear, from someone that’s been there. THANKYOU xxxx much love xxx Sally x
Yep, all my friends were hitting the pubs and I was at home washing my wig! (The NHS wig catalogue could easily have been mistaken for a 70’s knitting patterns magazine )
The positive I take from having it so young is it completely changed my course of life. I chose the pathway I wanted rather than the ‘sensible’ option I had been heading for before the big C and I am loving the direction it has taken me in so far! As someone else mentioned, I do think that an experience like that helps you to enjoy all of the little things and to cherish the time you have with everyone. Huge hugs and positive thoughts for moving forward to you and your family xx
I completely understand your analogies, 6 years ago, I’m counting too, my husband had a major stroke, luckily survived and made a good recovery with a few little blips, in the same year my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was carer to both of them. Sadly my brother passed away, my fight and flight kicked in the moment my husband had his stroke and didn’t wane for years, or so it felt. I’m not comparing to your situation, just the feeling that it’s scary to move on without back up because I felt under medical care they are in charge and the responsibility seems to fall on them, left alone it feels like it’s on you. We have moved on but ever so gingerly me more so, my husband is just so happy he’s ok and rightly so. I was reading something today about seizing the day and it’s so true, don’t think about tomorrow until it comes. I love following you on instagram/ stories and have just subscribed to your blog. You seem such a lovely bubbly, caring person. Sorry to ramble on just wanted to let you know you’re not alone
Jan you’re so not rambling ! What a time of it you’ve had !! I’m so so sorry you lost your brother ❤️ since you mentioned ‘seize the day’ I’ve seen it everywhere. It’s a sign. I’m so happy your husband is ok and doing well and happy and I hope that’s the case for EVER!!! Thankyou for being so lovely to me xxxxx
I wish you and your family all the luck and love in the world. Keep going lovely your doing well xx