When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew I was in this new world for the long haul. My consultant said treatment alone was going to take the guts of a year. I was going to see all four seasons as a cancer patient. This was going to have a beginning, middle and an end and I needed to pace myself. A marathon, not a sprint.The only thing I knew for sure is that I was going to cross that finishing line.
In life, we all look to our peers to gauge how we are doing. Whether it’s studying for exams, sports training or career comparisons, we look to those around us to get a feel for the pace. God, even when I drive to Dublin, I pick a car on the road that I like the speed of and I tuck in behind them. Cancer wasn’t going to be any different.
Around the time of diagnosis, my friend called over to give me a shoulder to cry on. When telling her everything, she stayed calm and just listened. When it came time to leave she told me, so kindly, that she had some good news and that she was pregnant. I was so happy for her and we joked that we were both looking down the barrel of a ‘challenging ‘year lol. We realised through our many conversations that some of the side effects of pregnancy and chemo are pretty similar: sickness, fatigue, swollen limbs, changing body, pins and needles, constipation, anxiety and fear of the unknown. I didn’t know anyone with cancer and this is when my friend kindly let me tuck in behind her.
We were both missing red wine, nights out, spicy food, clothes shopping, romantic breaks and girls weekends away. We were both doing this for the greater good and for our families, to have them and to stay with them. So together, we went on a journey.
Chemotherapy is cumulative, you’re ok starting out but it’s building up inside you, it’s chemo on top of chemo on top of chemo. When cancer strikes, you’re stuck in a bubble, you’re frozen in time, your life is all consumed by cancer and you forget the world is still turning. As my journey got tougher, my friend’s bump got bigger and in her I could see that time was passing and the finishing line was getting closer.
Conn was born at the end of July, not long after I had finished my chemo. My treatment took almost the same amount of time it took Conn to grow and be born.
Now, please don’t think we were silly, we both knew there is a big difference between being pregnant and having cancer. But in our small world and in our friendship, there didn’t need to be much of a difference. Because the toughest battle with cancer is within your head, you need to keep going, you need to keep out of that rabbit hole, anxiety sneaks up and tries to consume you, I couldn’t let that happen to me, I would get swallowed up. So instead, I found my friend to pace myself off, and I tucked in behind her.
Thank you Brenda and welcome to the world baby Conn