Keep calm and carry on

During the summer I bought a clock in Ely Cathedral shop which has a Union Jack and the motto ‘Keep calm and carry on’.  I got it partly because of the patriotic design but also because the motto is rather appropriate for my situation.  Living with metastatic breast cancer is, for me at least, a marathon rather than a sprint.

Many people see living with cancer as a war and describe it in military terms of ‘battling’ cancer and being a ‘warrior’.  I don’t really see it in these terms, and if anyone puts an obituary in the local paper saying ‘I lost my battle’ I am going to come back and haunt them.  I do think of this in terms of being a challenge, and form of competition where I try to outwit my opponent, a game of sorts where I look to throw as many spanners in the works as possible.  But, there again, when does life ever go to plan?  Certainly mine has not.  I never married, had children, had a rewarding career, became famous, been admired … I could go on but I might depress myself!

Cancer is something to be lived with because it can no longer be avoided.  It will always be a part of my life now so I guess there really isn’t any point in wishing that it would go away.  The trick to living with cancer is not to let it take over your life until there is absolutely no alternative.  Don’t give it the strength to become a ‘Frankenstorm’ and stop everthing around you and make you live in dread to what it might be able to do.  That is maybe why I like to still travel around England when I have the chance; why I still work for a living although my employer has now restricted the hours that I work, but that is beyond my control.

What I can control is the ability to get my mind to focus on something good which allows me to reduce the stress, and feel relaxed and at ease.  The memory of a breautiful sky; the thought of being able to snuggle up during the winter with a good book / film / piece of music / blog.  Ultimately it is about taking control and being a proactive patient and taking nothing for granted.  Maybe one reason I never seem to get many side effects from the medications I have been on is because I am just not really thinking about them.  If anything it takes a while for me to actually recognise whether or not I have a reaction to something, and even then why let the side effects win?  Ok so I get very stiff and it is probably a side effect from the Letrozole (Femara) but it is there, and the only thing that I can really do to stop it is to stop taking the medication.  However the consequences of that may be far worse than being stiff!  If I can tollerate it and it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.  Just Keep Calm and Carry On.


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