Huh! If only! Cancer is just there every second of every day. Whether you’re at work, shopping, exercising, or even enjoying yourself with friends and family, the Big C hovers, dancing around you, whispering its toxic negativity and fear into your ear.
It is, at times, utterly draining and exhausting, even for those of us who favour the biggest of positive pants.
But every now and then, you get a break from it all, and my word, are they the days to treasure.
This happened to me very recently when I was lucky enough to go on a spa day thanks to the generosity of my daughter and her boyfriend, who surprised both of us mums, to a much-needed day of rest and relaxation.
I can’t tell you how much I needed to get away from everything. Recently I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed by life in general. Since I’ve been forced to face my mortality head-on, I have certainly felt a real appreciation to be alive and for the many, kind, and loving people in it, but days are just flying by, and I sometimes question if I am actually making the most of them.
My diagnosis has, as you can imagine, changed my life entirely. The foods I choose to eat, the exercise I take, supplements I have, and making meditation a huge part of my stress reduction plan, are all because I need to be as active in my healing journey from cancer as possible. The hours upon hours that I have dedicated to educating myself on bile duct cancer, how the cells in the body work, and how epigenetics influence our health and risk of disease, are all because of my diagnosis.
Basically, my life IS cancer.
For 95% of the time, I really enjoy this and am driven by my need to improve my health and heal my currently very sick body, as well as an indescribable desire to help others living with cholangiocarcinoma, however small that may be. My diagnosis has given me opportunities to help raise awareness of this cancer by telling my story and also be part of the hope and excitement felt when NICE approved my current treatment, Pemigatinib, meaning the NHS now has another option when treating patients with bile duct cancer.
But then, 5% of the time, all of this plus work, family needs, and house “stuff”; those mundane chores such as cleaning, shopping, etc, result in me feeling tired and flat, which leaves me open to that 4 letter word synonymous with cancer….fear.
So, as we made our way to Rudding Park Spa in the beautiful town of Harrogate, it became much more than a day out. It gave me an escape from the everyday monotony of my life since diagnosis.
We got to enjoy a mud body treatment, relaxing, heated chairs, lay by the pool, an oxygen room, and a “sun” room, increasing your vitamin D uptake. We were also provided with a two course, delicious lunch, so as pampering goes, it doesn’t get much better. We briefly spoke about my cancer, but it didn’t dominate my day one bit and I was so grateful to get that break from my new identity as a cancer “sufferer”.
I need to make more of an effort for these days. Weekly spa days may be unrealistic as much as I would love nothing else, but it did drive home to me the importance of escaping my diagnosis and the thoughts and therefore feelings attached to this.
It was also a reminder that I am NOT my diagnosis, and very much ALIVE and feeling well. Life is for enjoying, and there is so much joy to be experienced, even in the toughest of circumstances.
On the day of my diagnosis, a nurse told me to get through the bad days and enjoy the good ones. And good days DO happen.
Much love and strength,