The Struggle Is Real

The never ending struggle of living with stage 4 cancer is very real, and sometimes it appears that I am coping really well, even when I am not. Recently I have had to accept that I need a bit of help as I haven’t been doing well over the past few months. Late last year I felt I was in a dark place and was prescribed antidepressants by my GP.

Being surrounded by positivity and wonderful people helps a lot, but it’s ultimately not a solution. Cancer is lonely and isolating, which means I struggle with my diagnosis daily. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts I frequently feel very lonely and I am not ashamed to say I cry about my situation often. I have points where my judgment is clouded and I struggle to see the positives, as they hugely outweighed by the negatives. Who wants to wake up in the morning thinking about their impending death? Melanoma is a death sentence which I cannot change.

No longer having the typical visual side effects of cancer and holding down a job may sometimes mean people don’t realise how much I am struggling to get by. I think I often make it look easy, I look well but I don’t feel well. This is by far the hardest thing I have gone through and will go through during my lifetime. Unless you’re in my shoes it’s hard to truly relate. Of course, I do have good days where I feel like I’m powering through, and they feel great, but increasingly they are few and far between.

It’s my priority to feel well in myself, but sometimes my lack of control means that isn’t always possible. I try to try forget my woes, even if it’s just for five minutes in a day. I have a new job, and am starting to focus on my new challenge, the Lake District 5 Peak Challenge with Trekstock in April. I have been making the most of being in London and having down time, rather than trying to do too much, which I wrote about in my last blog post Finding My Focus. I have made an effort to go to my favourite local places, go to the cinema, or listen to my current favourite music (The Greatest Showman and Hamilton soundtracks are amazing!).

There are times in the past when I could have taken antidepressants, such as when I had surgery to remove my brain tumour eight years ago, but I just focussed on getting through each hospital appointment. These tablets ultimately won’t make a difference in terms of how Melanoma affects me, but they have started to help me feel less like bursting into tears every five minutes. The injustice of the world upsets me often, and it all comes back to my lack of control or choices I have in my life. This is one of the reasons I choose to raise money for charity when I can; often unless something touches someone’s life personally they may not think about trying to raise funds, but I’ve seen first hand gaps in the support system for patients, and the astronomical costs of life extending cancer drugs on the NHS.

When you look at television adverts or posters, cancer patients are often seen in a positive light, overcoming illness and defying expectations. I guess this is meant to reassure us that cancer can be beaten by everyone, but it is often hard to comprehend the true reality. So far, taking antidepressants has made a significant shift in how I feel; I still struggle every day but the sadness and frustration feels less overwhelming. It seems there can be a stigma surrounding taking antidepressants, but I am not ashamed to admit I need a little help at the moment.

To be clear, I have been feeling depressed for several reasons. The most prevalent feelings being that I am scared my cancer will no longer be stable, and I will suffer immense pain and die. I also know it is such huge factor in my life an there is no ‘putting it all behind me and moving on’. After all, I am still  having treatment and getting scanned every three months, and will never be cancer free, it will always be part of my life. I am not trying to be attention seeking, I am just trying to be honest about the realities of life with a terminal cancer diagnosis, its important to know that the struggle is real. Very real.

10 thoughts on “The Struggle Is Real

  1. Hi Jo, Thank you for your posting and having the courage to write so honestly about your struggle with cancer and the huge impact it is having on your life. I get annoyed by sentimental/angelic adverts about cancer patients. I have lost my mum and sister to cancer and the end was not pretty, so I have no illusions about my final months when the time comes. So far I have been diagnosed with two different cancers both detected early and excised successfully, so thankfully there is currently no evidence of disease. I can’t image myself being very brave or a gracious patient, so I have great admiration for what you are achieving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jo. Your struggle with depression and your honesty about it is very inspiring. You really are one very strong human being… don’t ever forget that. I hope the tablets help in the short term… but perhaps look at some different types of solutions for depression. Maybe yoga or meditation or some kind of weekly retreat… even if its just a long walk in some beautiful place with the wonder of nature around you. This i would hope would lift your spirts. Big hug for you always

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jo. Thank for your latest post. It helps other people begin to understand (just a little bit) about what you are going through and how you cope. Hopefully that helps people like me not to say clumsy insensitive things (to you and others). As you know, we just want to help / support – but don’t always know what to do or say.

    Replying to your posts always makes me stop / think. That’s a good thing and shows that you are engaging us (me).

    Thanks again for your posts 🙂

    Pete

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing Jo, I totally empathise in your view of the injustice of the world & what you’ve been forced to face. You are an inspiration & help many with your thoughts. You are brave in seeking help, I hope your medication lifts your spirits. 🌟

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  5. This is beautifully written and sums up the struggle. The most pertinent point for me is yes, when you look well and have none of the obvious signs of cancer, people expect you to be fine and move on, and this is not possible. Sometimes I find myself putting on a happy front just to make others feel better. Thanks for this post. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Helen, thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog post. It really helps me to get my feeling out there. I think there is often a stigma with antidepressants, a taboo that people don’t often talk about. Hope you’re doing ok x

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  6. Hello, i too was diagnosed with Advanced MM ,which had spread to my Brain and i my groin,from my leg. I take a low dose Diazapam which helped me cope with the “short life expectancy” in 2014. Just before Christmas 2017 i had the news i never thought i would hear,that at this moment in time i am in remission ,(find this hard to write even),I have my driving license back after 3yrs ,ano
    ther little bonus i never thought would happen,It is sometimes a struggle but you have to remember nobody is promised tomorrow, illness or not, it is all about being here today and making the most of the here and now xx

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  7. Thank you for sharing your feelings so honestly with us Jo and giving such an insight into your struggle. I do hope that the medication will afford you some peace of mind over the coming months. Thinking of you x

    Liked by 1 person

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