My chemotherapy treatment lasted 18 long weeks; this Thursday will mark the 18-week anniversary since my last one. So that means I’ve been off the chemo for the same amount of time as I spent on it.
This blog documented those dark – although sometimes funny – weeks when I shared the changes going on in my mind and my body. From the first thinning patches of hair loss on my head to the point where my seven remaining eyelashes across both eyes were greeted by name when applying mascara, my words tried to explain what it’s like to be poisoned and taken to the point where the doctors are balancing just how many cells they can kill without doing a complete job on your body.
So I thought it only fitting to tell you what’s happened to me in the 18 weeks since I started to recover:
- My hair is growing back at an alarming rate. Tweezers, Veet and waxing appointments all feature as part of personal grooming routine again.
- I’ve had my hair cut – and gone blonde. Let’s see if I’ll have more fun now…!
- My nails are back to their usual length (with a little help from acrylic sculpturing).
- I’m back training again – three times a week minimum and finding that I can now run for just a little bit longer each time before I feel like I’m going to throw up.
- Back on a healthy eating plan – have now lost half the weight I put on during chemo, skinny jeans are on the distant horizon again for later in the year.
- Concentration is improving, finding that I remember spoken words more easily.
- Energy levels are better, no needing for an afternoon ‘nanna nap’ as much.
All of these changes are helping me feel more like Suzanne again when I look in the mirror. But there have been some changes to the way I think that are new to me and I like them.
Like when I get stressed about the everyday things, I tend to question whether the issue really is that important and if not, I can begin to let go of the energy and focus on what I can do instead.
I’m enjoying booking an indecent amount of holidays this year, whilst accepting that planning doesn’t mean the world will end if circumstances change. Between now and the end of August I’m off to New York, Singapore and Turkey as well as a weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales and another one climbing in Snowdonia. Good times ahead!
But the biggest change has been the addition of a new word in my vocabulary. One that I’ve known about for years but was scared of using personally because I imagined it would either make me seem weak or upset people.
Just a little word but with huge power to change.
No, I won’t cook dinner when you come round tonight – we’ll get a takeaway so I’m not tired and we can enjoy the evening together.
No, I won’t take on extra work because you need someone to sort out a problem for you. I’m happy to deliver the best I can for what we’ve already agreed and will reconsider additional work later in the year when I’m feeling better.
No, I’m not going to continue to do everything for everybody I love because I think it will make me indispensable. Instead I’m going to allow you the freedom to do it yourself so that afterwards I can feel very proud of you.
No, I’m not going to eat chocolate every time I’m pissed off with someone.
No, I understand that you have an opinion or desire for me to behave in a certain way but actually I quite like me right now – and so should you!
Most importantly, I’ve stopped waiting for everything to be perfect – I have everything I need right now.