Friday, September 18, 2015

1 year in remission-The best advice I have received in the past 12months

12 months ago today I met with my oncologist for the results of my PET scan and the scan was clear meaning I was officially in remission.  I cried all day.  I literally couldn't get my head around the whole thing and looking back now I can see it was not just physically traumatic but also emotionally traumatic.

I am surrounded by amazing people and I have had some fantastic pieces of advice over the past 12 months.  Today, as I reflect on the past year I am sharing some of the best advice I have had and who it came from.  I am bound to forget someone-I have had brilliant advice constantly over the past 12 months and often I recall something that someone has said to me but these are things that I have screenshot because they have been particularly pertinent at the time.  I received amazing advice and support on my blog posts about my journey and I can't read through the comments without crying.  

I find it very hard to talk about some of the feelings and confusions I have, even to my best friends and my parents because I feel, 12 months later I should be over it.  But it's really really really hard to move on.  Every day I wonder if there will ever be a day I don't think about it.  I find myself thinking stupid things, for example I was sat in the dentist chair on Monday thinking 'if my kids ever have to have braces they're getting the train track ones because at least they work quickly' (I have had my incognito braces on for over 2 years now) and then it hits me, like a curtain dropping at the end of a theatre performance that I will never have my own children.

Sometimes I feel like I am doing really well and sometimes I know I am wallowing.  I feel like I am living but not living.  I feel empty and lonely.  Only sometimes though.  Most of the time I am pretty normal (although James my assistant would probably disagree)

So I hope this post helps to focus my thoughts and help make a better Stacey.

So this is the SMS I received from Nick my old boss after I told him I was in remission 12 months ago today.  This is how I should have been feeling instead of drowning in my own tears.

We have a thing for hashtags!  Regular readers will know what am impact Nick had on my life (and still does) and so of course we would expect some gems from him.  We also have a thing for quotes-we love them!

I sms'd him earlier this week with this:

I am a chronic self doubter.  I know that about myself.  This isn't related specifically to cancer of course but I know it's something I need to work on.

I have loads of brilliant soundbites from Nick that I draw on regularly but one of my favourites recently was something he told me to watch online.  I highly recommend you take 20 minutes out of your day to have a look at this LINK

It's a brilliant and thought provoking speech and I am actively inputting actions from Amy's presentation into my daily office routine.  The night Nick sent that to me I was in Cairo after a particularly rough day and it completely lifted me.

One of the most impactful things Nick ever said to me was one night at our famed (but highly secretive) Tuesday Clubs. It was just me and him there and I can't remember the whole context of the conversation but he said to me 'don't waste time worrying over things that are out of your control'. It's so simple yet so true.

Talking of bosses, my old boss from the UK Andrew gave me some really good advice when I was first diagnosed.  I felt like I was under a lot of pressure to make decisions about my future there and then, especially with being an expat and I remember having a conversation with Andrew where he basically said this to me.

Andrew advised me not to make any life changing decisions for 12 months and he was right, I have been far too emotional to make any significant life decisions-its not even a case of my heart ruling my head, it would have been a case of my head and heart being on a complete rollercoaster where I couldn't make a sensible decision.

Here are some other quotes I have seen (mainly on instagram) that have been relevant and thought provoking over the past 12 months.

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Source-Brittany Burgunder

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My friend Laura (thelauracarlson) does a snapchat daily from the Truthbomb cards that she was given as a gift.  I screenshot a couple that I thought were really inspirational.  I've just found out there is a Truthbomb app so I have just downloaded it so I can have my own daily Truthbomb!

When Mike and I did our Route 66 road trip in July seeing this on the road in Arizona really hit home with me.  I really want to live like this!

I don't really go into detail about how I feel about the last 12 months with anyone anymore but I did have a conversation with one of my best friends Steph earlier this week about moving on and this was her advice to me.

I have a core group of girls that I love so much and speak to almost daily-Dani, Hannah, Steph, Sylvia, Tasha, Vanessa and I know deep down if I really did want to talk to them, or my mum about my thoughts and feelings about this I could.  I may not always talk about my feelings but I take inspiration and strength from the way these girls live their lives-even if I don't tell them often enough. 

Having Danielle my best friend in Dubai recently was incredibly therapeutic.  I took two days off work and I spent them with Dani and Toral lying by the pool at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.  We talked non stop about anything and everything and I was able to talk freely, face to face to actual humans about some of the emotions I have been feeling.  It really helped and I felt refreshed and 'lighter' after talking to them, as if some of the weight on my shoulders had evaporated.  Dani and I have been friends for more than 10 years and below is the best advice she has ever given me about self respect.  It's metaphorical of course but it's absolutely something that sticks in my head and has changed me as a person and the way I react to the bad behaviour of other people. 

Of course I have to feature James my assistant. Going back 12 months to this day he could tell something was wrong.

It was such good advice from a 24 year old and I have really treasured his words.  He is of course completely right and I absolutely need to switch to manual.  And I need to do it now.

And if all else fails, I will just rely on this advice to get me through life.

I've said it frequently but if you have followed my journey over the past 14 months thank you.  Being an expat can be lonely but through the power of social media there has always been someone there whenever I have felt low.  There has always been someone online, someone to chat to and someone to say 'you're doing great'.  Mike can't understand why I am forever glued to my phone but to me it's more of a lifeline than he can ever understand.

I spoke very honestly about not feeling lucky about my early diagnosis but I genuinely do feel lucky now.  I have turned that corner to know that the whole thing could have been so so much worse and I have indeed been incredibly lucky.

We have no plans for today and if I hadn't posted about this I don't imagine anyone would have remembered-this is not a criticism, this is a date that is only relevant and pertinent to me.  I talked about this to Steph yesterday morning-everyone has dates that are huge to them yet insignificant in the world around them.  The day their baby was conceived, their diagnosis day, the day they started their new job, the day they met their partner, their surgery day, their remission day.  We should celebrate them all.

Don't forget girls-cervical cancer is so preventable!!  If you're over 25 and overdue your smear test/PAP smear/cervical screening please book an appointment today.  If you're under 25 and not eligible for a smear but have symptoms of pain during or after sex, abnormal discharge or bleeding between periods go to your doctor and have a chat with them.

I would love to know what the best piece of advice you have ever received is?


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