Our blogger Melanie O’Neill has two children and was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer eight years ago.Â
Here she talks about letting her guard down – and being ok about it.Â
I AM having a bad day.
Days like this are rare because I keep myself so busy that I donâ€™t have time to stop and think. To stop and feel what Iâ€™m really feeling deep down. Like any busy mum, Iâ€™m like a hamster on a wheel but today Iâ€™ve had nothing to do so the consequences of my life at this moment in time hit me slap bang in the face.
Crying for no reason and then crying for every reason every time my mind wandered, I cried. Everything Iâ€™ve read about living in the present moment and not focusing on the future evaporated from my brain.
To start with I began to feel sorry for myself remembering all the times, since beginning my clinical trial (except from at the start when it miraculously cleared ever last bit of cancer in my skin) when Iâ€™ve had to fight my corner, my heart in my mouth, explaining how fit and well I am feeling despite my flagging white blood count results and why I should be given my treatment.
Having to fight for my treatment to be given despite ulcers appearing all over my tongue, praying the pain would leave me alone for a month or so.
Also having been left with horrific memories of being pinned down on a hospital theatre bed whilst the nurse proceeded to yank my already painful tongue to one side so the consultant could inflict more pain as she injected my tongue over six times to make sure it was completely numb, taking a chunk for her biopsy, only repairing it with dissolvable stitches yet continuing to repeat the trauma on the front of my gum.
Leaving the hospital that day, I broke down in floods of tears. Not because of the pain as I was numb, but because I felt traumatised by what had just happened, however relieved the worse was over and after everything Iâ€™ve been through in the past eight years with a mastectomy, then a skin graft, then my scar fell open, followed by a car crash and stitches in my head, the biopsy was by far the most traumatic.
For the first time I can admit to being brave and how loved I am when I returned home to Darceyâ€™s homemade fairy cakes. I must also mention twoÂ lovely ladies Sarah and her mum Carol who sent me a special hand wrapped gift through the post after posting my trauma on Facebook, cheering me up after the awful event. I just wonder where has my bravery gone today?
Scanxiety was every six weekly heart scan results day along with intensified anxiety at every sixÂ weekly CT scan results day for almost three years.
Watching the red patch reappear on my back, knowing full well what it is yet having to convince others of my own thoughts along with thickening in the skin on the back of my arm slowly moving round to my forearm creating a swelling that at times feels my arm is going to burst and restricts me from doing day to day tasks like lifting a cup or fastening a button as itâ€™s so tight.
Iâ€™m tired through having too many restless nightsâ€™s sleep which doesnâ€™t help either as Iâ€™ve sobbed on the couch all day delving into my darkest fears. Frightened of my week ahead of no appointments and no treatment, Iâ€™m watching the red patch thickening my skin and expressing itself over my shoulder daily, selfishly providing me with sharp knife-like cutting pain and itching so intensely that no amount of CBD oil is reversing it.
I am frightened of dying, of leaving my kids to continue their teenage life with no mum. I am frightened of getting a dog and not having enough energy to give to it. I am frightened of the destruction and devastation I will leave behind should I die.
I want to face my fear and not feel scared. I want to be that girl, from last week, who sat confidently in the hospital room being told there is nothing currently available in the medical system to help me. No treatment, no clinical trials, oh but they will kindly put me on their waiting list should anything come up as if I were asking for table in a restaurant not a treatment that will help kill this damn cancer and help me live longer.
Unfazed I confidently accepted everything the doctor had to say and knew my body needed a rest, so where has she gone?
If Iâ€™m honest, the fear is always there I just remain active so I donâ€™t have time to stop and worry, but I must also realise that under my Wonder Woman exterior I can take a day off once in a while.
Itâ€™s allowed. I am human but that comes with a condition. That I will dust myself down and start a fresh tomorrow, not allowing the fear to consume me but to let go of it realising I have so much to live for and remembering that I have cancer, cancer doesnâ€™t have me.
I have written this blog so people can relate to it and not feel so alone because today I let my guard down and I have realised Iâ€™m still ok. Roll on November when Iâ€™ve had the go ahead to get a little pooch.
So my only worry tomorrow will be what name to call him. (ha ha)