When I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer I had the obvious concerns, but one of my biggest fears was that I would fall into a black pit of despair and anxiety, and waste the time I had left. I am no stranger to depression but cancer has given me a new perspective and taught me to appreciate just how precious life is. I have endured a lot in the last couple of years and unfortunately with regard to some things I have very little control, but when it comes to happiness I believe I have a choice. I have my bad days but I make a constant effort to stay positive. Someday this cursed disease will claim my life, but for now I refuse to let it steal my joy.
Last week was a bad week, the goal posts shifted again and my oncologist confirmed my worst fears; the small lumps I had found above my scar were new cancer lesions. I’ve had set backs before, but when they never let up you start to lose hope. It was a bad week that I made much worse by isolating myself for too long. Taking a bit of time to get your head together is one thing but when you spend too much time alone with your fear and hopelessness that’s when the demons kick in and the trouble starts.
People comment on my positivity and how I never stop, I am always on the go, always heading somewhere, always up to something. The truth is I can’t stop, don’t get me wrong I’m not in denial, about my situation but this is my device, my coping mechanism. I am not only trying to pack as much into my life while I can, I need to be distracted for fear that I might give up and let depression swallow me.
You might think that having cancer I have every reason to be depressed, my condition evokes sympathy and understanding and should anyone doubt it I have the scars to prove it, but I don’t have the monopoly on suffering. Depression is an illness, it doesn’t need a reason; like cancer it is not selective, and like cancer if you don’t catch it early it can claim lives, but unlike cancer it isn’t always taken seriously and given the acknowledgement it deserves.
I am very grateful I am aware of the signs although I still have to be vigilant, and I am blessed to have the support of family and friends to keep my spirits up: however, I am also aware how fragile this state is. People tell me ‘’where there is life there is hope’’ and while this may true I’m of the opinion it is very much the other way round ‘’ where there is hope there is life’’.
It is ok to not be ok and to ask for help, we all need a helping hand sometimes.