Today I was feeling much more tired than normal…a sacrifice I’d made after some early birthday celebrations with friends last night. Which, as a side note, was a lovely evening and exactly what I needed. The restaurant even surprised me with a birthday cake and balloons 💜
As a result I wasn’t up to doing much today and so spent most of the day reading a new book that I’d bought under the recommendation of a friend – “The Cancer Whisperer” by Sophie Sabbage.
Well, the book is incredible…I’m already nearly half way through it!
Since my diagnosis I’ve read lots of books about cancer. These range from books written by Drs or researchers or even survivors. This book was different though. It was the first time I’ve read a book by a person who still has cancer. A person who, like me, is living with stage four cancer and is aware that, medically speaking, her cancer is ‘incurable’.
More importantly, however, despite this (or perhaps because of this…) she shares my positive outlook on life.
It was so inspiring for me to read her story and her approach to her diagnosis. I felt every word on the page spoke to my soul. Whilst reading her words, I was no longer the ‘unique case’ my oncologist and surgeon describe, but instead I felt like I was reading the words of a kindred spirit.
There is so much comfort in knowing that there is someone else in the world with stage four cancer who isn’t giving in to nor fighting (a term I loath!) the disease but is instead letting it allow her to grow as a person whilst healing her life. I am sure (or at least hope) that there are many others who share our outlook but, whilst I have read the positive outlooks of people who have recovered from stage 1, 2 or 3 cancer, stage 4 cancer patients don’t often appear to share this outlook…or indeed share their story…with others.
The thing that resonated with me most in her book is the emphasis she places on taking control of your disease and taking ownership of the decisions being made. This is also encouraged by Kelly A Turner in her book “Radical Remission” and something I do without thought – I mean why wouldn’t I want to know everything there is to know about my illness whilst also being involved in the decisions about my treatment and care. However, I am becoming increasingly aware that this is not something I share with all cancer patients and this unsettles me. How can people be expected to heal without all the information? Sometimes people don’t even want to know what stage their cancer is – I can’t relate to this at all. I want to know everything…I mean everything!… about my illness and possible treatment. However, when I recently asked one of the surgeons if I could see my scan results I was told that I was the first person ever to ask. Ever?!
I’ve found that whilst my Drs are initially surprised by my calm and rational (and often emotionally detached) questioning, they also appear refreshed by the opportunity to talk openly about my illness with me in a way in which I am made to feel welcomed as a contributor rather than a bystander. However, I still have the impression that they hold back, perhaps unsure if my ’emotional detachment’ is denial or a front – it is in fact neither and merely an ability I hold to detach myself and reserve dealing with the information emotionally at a later stage (usually once I am home and talking through the facts with my husband). I hope that as I progress through my journey that my Drs become more comfortable with sharing information about me with me (ironic really when you think about it).
I truely feel that one of the most valuable lessons from my journey is to take total ownership of my health. I can only hope that in the future integrated, person-centred treatment of cancer patients will have become the norm in cancer care.
Love and light, Fi xx