I’ve made notes about this letter and started it many times but struggled to find the right words to say. I guess it’s because what I really feel I should be starting with is an admission of guilt; that I feel quite fraudulent in your company. There I’ve said it. I feel that I didn’t stand up there with the rest of you and have Chemotherapy and somehow my muddled brain tells me that that equates to not doing it ‘right’, as if there is a right way to do it.
My friend tells me that I’m struggling to arrange my thoughts because I’m dipping my toes into ‘Imposter Syndrome’- a sense that you are getting away with something and are about to be discovered and I can see that my perception of what is the right way and the way I’ve journeyed are not the same and don’t feel compatible. It almost makes me feel ashamed; ridiculously that I haven’t really earnt my stripes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved I didn’t have to have Chemotherapy and grateful that although it was on the cards for a while my Oncotype DX test flagged me up as low risk meaning that 6 rounds of Chemo would probably not decrease my chances of reoccurrence any more than just Radiotherapy and Hormone Therapy should.
I also know that you would not wish Chemo on other patients and would probably tell me not to be so stupid, that I should be grateful to have dodged that one and to get a grip and get on. And you’re right of course. However in order to move on I know I needed to seek you out and share my thoughts. Please don’t be offended or dismissive; we all know that getting anxieties and feelings out in the open helps the emotional healing.
Whilst our diagnoses may well have been identical and the subsequent surgery took the same uninvited guests away and the pathology results told the same tale, the route to heading back to ‘normal’ varies. I know deep down that you’d rather have stepped into my shoes. All through my treatments, however hard they felt, I carried with me a sense of gratefulness that it was ‘just this’ or ‘just that’ and ‘not that’. I convinced myself that Radiotherapy and Hormone Therapy were walks in the park in comparison to your treatment plan and I had no right to complain. I still feel that.
Once a Cancer diagnosis is given we all stand on some invisible line that forms a continuum of effects, grades, stages and treatments. Those of us nearer to the start of the line think of you regularly and know that the huge dice of chance has gifted us a lucky number and yours is not so lucky. We don’t understand it either and struggle to make sense of this new normal. How I wish there was no such element of chance and everyone was lucky.
So I wish you well as you go through Chemotherapy or are convalescing from it. I hope that it does its job even though it goes about it in such an unkind way. I extend my best wishes to your families and those who are alongside you, feeling some of the direct effects and no doubt coping with some of their own.
My thoughts are with you focusing on your healing.