On 19 January 2017
Graduating with First Class Honours from University of Leicester
My eldest son Arran, me and my husband Stuart
So Saturday 4 February 2017 was World Cancer Day but actually for many, Cancer Day is every day.
Six years ago, Cancer Day was everyday for a period of 18 months for my family and me. Whilst I am unable to recall the status of fundraising, new breakthroughs or latest trials at the time, I am able to tell you (even with my ‘chemo brain’) of the support and empathy I received on a daily basis. It was immeasurable and presented itself in very many forms: a short message, a knowing smile, a card through the post, a phone call, a visit, a lunch date, taking my children out for a day, treating my husband to respite, conversations reassuring my parents and sharing positivity and joy amidst a landscape of fear and uncertainty.
Once touched by cancer it can become omnipresent. Regulating yourself to accept and integrate cancer into your view of the future releases new opportunities, difficult though it is. My oncologist at the time, Justin Stebbing, discussed with me the importance of sharing my cancer journey openly with my children. I recall being horrified as my maternal instincts kicked in; my whole worldview was about shielding them rather than sharing with them. Throughout my treatment I obviously benefitted from Justin’s knowledge and experience but also enormously through his Emotional Intelligence; empathy, motivation and how he engaged with me.
My family and friends made a difference through the smallest of gestures and investment of emotion. So rather than think of the enormity of cancer and struggle with how you alone can make a difference, take some time out to make a call, arrange a coffee/lunch/dinner, baby-sit, dog walk, drop off a magazine or just find time to listen – and not just with those that are suffering directly. One of the side effects of dealing with cancer is you become so focused on your personal journey that you become blind to the journey others are taking with you.
Whereas context and perspective may change you never forget cancer. My emotional resilience continues to develop and teaches me how to accept and integrate my experience going forward.
Just as cancer has no boundaries or limits apply these same parameters to your emotional contribution. Your emotional donation is invaluable and will always be remembered.
For this I am fortunate and very grateful.