I am off on holiday soon (hooray) and as I won’t be throwing in my tuppence-worth for a month or more, I have decided to take a longer break. Not for ever, but for a while.
I came to the Online Network 2 years after diagnosis. I was one of the lucky ones – I got through treatment pretty well and didn’t need much support (no small kids to care for, supportive partner, no reconstruction). I dodged nausea, fatigue and chemo brain. I worked throughout treatment and beyond. My family, friends and work colleagues were great when needed. I have a few long term side effects, but five and a half years on, I am still cancer clear, working, having a life I enjoy.
I reached out twice. Once to a really good counsellor when I didn’t like my own description of myself as a woman pushing 70 with dodgy feet, a dodgy arm and a dicky heart. Sorted that one out with some terrific advice, which I still try and act on today. And once, just once, feeling very sorry for myself, out of sorts and poor me, I emailed an interstate colleague who had been through it all a few years before me. The response was fast, funny and informative. Sometimes there is nothing like someone who knows exactly how it feels. So, when I was sufficiently objective and optimistic about myself, it seemed a good idea to see if I could be half as useful to someone else.
It’s been an extraordinary three years – everyone has said it before me, this is the club that no-one wants to join. But you really should in some ways (just don’t have cancer!) because the membership is out of the box. There is more real bravery, stoicism, generosity and warmth here than almost anywhere imaginable. There is a lot of laughter. There can be desperation but also enormous tenacity. Ideas and thoughts are shared (mad, sad, brutal, cute, uplifting – the whole spectrum!) and through that sharing everyone benefits somehow. I’ve received a lot more than I have ever given.
It’s been a privilege to be on the same page with you all. BCNA staff, that includes you too. I am booked in for the Plan B conference in August and hope I can say hello to some of you there in person.
Until then, as always, best wishes.