How I’m Doing Now

Since my breast cancer diagnosis last May, I’m different. I know this.

And I’m not saying bad different, just different.

Being up close with your own mortality changes things for you.

Everyone knows they are going to die some time, but it’s not the same as hearing the words ‘you have cancer’. 

Of course everybody reacts differently to these words. The prognosis at that point and now is good, but cancer is cancer.

Me, I needed to understand the likely steps ahead of me, the treatment I’d need and what I could do to stay alive for as long as possible for my kids. That’s where my head was at on that day in May and it still is. 

Mortality is a huge motivator. 

I’ve followed all advice that my oncologist and breast care nurse and team have given me. I am doing everything the NHS suggests I do. 

Then me being me, I’ve read extensively too. I mean, I read up on everything that interests me and staying alive is probably at the top of that list!

I read up because aside from getting the medical treatment and care from the NHS, which was all great, I didn’t get much more advice.

I wanted to understand what I could do to ease the effects of my treatment and ongoing hormone therapy, I wanted to know what I could to reduce the chances of a recurrence, and I wanted to know what I could do to improve my day to day life having being put into an instant medical menopause.

The menopause conversation has really blown up everywhere over recent times, which is fantastic. It should be talked about, it should be addressed and it seems to be covered wherever you look lately. But for people like me, it’s difficult as it rarely applies to me. I’ve been put into an early menopause without being able to access the usual prescriptions or natural supplements to ease it. I need to find other ways to deal with it.

My priority is my health each and every day. I think about the nutrients I’m putting into my body, I think about how best to get it moving, I think about getting outside and breathing in the fresh air and absorbing the sunlight, I think about ensuring I rest when I need to. 

I couldn’t stop myself from getting cancer, I wasn’t in control of all the treatment I had and have, but this I can do.

I exercise every single day, it’s that ingrained to me now, and there’s not a chance I’d miss it. It doesn’t matter how busy I am, this is the priority. Yoga, weights, rowing, walking, whatever I can fit in. I eat well, I do my best to sleep well and I won’t be drinking again. 

If this sounds a lot, I get you. If this sounds like it’s not achievable with everything else to juggle, I get you. If this sounds like a ‘nice to have the time’ thing, I understand where you’re coming from as I didn’t believe I had the time for all of this before either. This wasn’t how I was living a year ago, though I did walk a lot.

But it’s not hard to be motivated with a cancer diagnosis. I shifted things around, my perspective underwent a huge change and things are pretty simple now in terms of how I spend my time. 

My children need me and I want to see them grow up. 

Now, if you’re picturing some austere miserable existence at this point, you couldn’t be further from the truth.  

I feel stronger, I feel more energetic, I feel calmer and I listen to my body and take it easy when I know I need to. I am OK.

I know that when I get out and walk I feel better, my side effects are hugely improved, so I walk. I can’t begin to tell you the difference walking makes to me and how my body feels. 

I know that my body is feeling stronger every day now, as I workout with those dumbbells or settle in on my rowing machine. It’s important for me to do things to increase my muscle mass and improve my bone health. 

I know that my mind loves to slow up when I practise yoga, and my body needs to stretch in this way. 

I know that I don’t sweat the small stuff. Very little can stress me these days, I don’t overthink things and worries barely niggle me. If there’s something that I don’t want in my life, out it goes. Most things don’t matter enough in the bigger scheme of things to upset me and I want to stay calm and happy.

I want to enjoy the moments that I have. Hopefully I’ll have many more years of them, but if I don’t, I want to savour what I do have now. Be grateful for what I do have now. 

Looking after my health is right up there at the top of my to-do list, and then I want to be spending time with the people I love. I notice and enjoy the little things, I’m grateful to be around to experience them. 

A couple of weeks ago I was out with my daughter, at a concert, our favourite kind of outing.

We booked our tickets to see Niall Horan a couple of days after I had to tell the kids I had cancer. I remember very clearly we were in the car on our way to a day out to lift their spirits as I was frantically queueing on Ticketmaster. 

If you don’t know Niall, he was in One Direction, and coincidentally, my girl and I were out seeing Harry Styles the night before I got my breast cancer diagnosis. Seeing Harry was the last thing I did in my life before cancer. And then here I was seeing Niall in my life with and after cancer. I know, I know, I’m rambling, but in my head they’re connected. 

As we stood there singing loudly with Niall and dancing around together, I felt good. 

These are the moments. The moments I’m doing all of this for, and it was a great night. He put on a good show.

So when I occasionally miss a G&T, when I’m out and I’m the only one not eating the cake, when I want to eat ALL the hotdogs, when it’s raining outside and I don’t want to get soggy, it all pales in comparison to these kind of moments and I know that I want many more of them. And don’t worry, if I really want the chocolate, I eat it. I just find that I don’t really want this stuff as much as I used to. 

Breast cancer isn’t easy. I can’t begin to express to you how much it changes things, the effects on your body and the impact on your mental health. I focus on the now, as if I think too much about problems further down the line from my treatment and medication or its return, it’s hard.

Some days are better than others, I’m not going to sugar coat it as the medication can give me problems and it’s difficult with this in your mind. But I guess I wanted to just come on here and say that I’m doing OK. I’m feeling strong and optimistic. I’m hoping my body will be able to stop this thing from coming back again, but if it doesn’t, then I’m getting in good shape to fight it again. Win, win right?

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4 thoughts on “How I’m Doing Now”

  1. Sounds like you are doing really well, all positive changes I would say – well done

    Think we could all do with taking on some of the things you describe whether it be more exercise, slowing down or not stressing the small stuff

    Thanks for sharing xx

  2. You’re doing brilliant Jocelyn. Your mind set is so positive and I beleive is a great benefit to our health, as body and mind are not separate and I feel affect each other.
    Stress is a major factor to physical health and I don’t think enough research is done to explore this.
    The stresses we encounter today are far more intense than in the ‘good old days’.
    Carry on as you are and as you say its a win,win. x

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