Issie: What Happens After Treatment                                                          

What Happens After Treatment

When I was going through treatment, I was very focused.  I took it day by day, week by week.  When I was diagnosed, I was focused on the operation.  After the operation, my chemotherapy started.  My chemotherapy was every 3 weeks, so I was always working towards the next treatment.  When I was going through my radiotherapy treatment, I was counting down the days to the last treatment.  And when I was on a year of Herceptin, I was constantly thinking of the next treatment and keeping track of how many treatments I actually had left.  I always knew how many I had left at any given time.  During this time, I was constantly in and out of hospital for appointments and check ups.  So it can be a busy time.

And finally the day arrived that I was finished treatment.  I could not believe it.  It was the 13th of December, 2012 and  I had been diagnosed on the 19th of July, 2011.  So for a year and a half, cancer had taken over my life.  Completely.

It was a strange feeling to be finished with it.  It had been a huge part of my life for so long and now it was over.  Did I miss it?  No.  However, this can be a very difficult time for many cancer survivors.  The hard work of treatment is over and you are expected to just go back to your life as it was before.  It can be a trying time because you are a very different person compared to the person that you were before cancer.  Suddenly, you are alone to just get on with life.  The constant support of doctors and nurses is gone and it can make you feel quite alone.

I personally found this a hard time.  The journey was over and I did not have any treatments to concentrate on.  I went back to work full time and mulled over everything.  It is very fair to say that I had changed and that my life had changed.  Before, I took every thing for granted, but now I valued every single day.  I had huge empathy for other peoples suffering, especially those going through cancer.  I also reflected on my life and questioned whether or not I was truly happy.  I decided that some aspects of my life had to change.

I had been self-employed for many years before my diagnosis.  Yet now I felt that I needed to review this.  I changed jobs and I am now delighted to say that this was the right thing for me to do.  I needed a new challenge and I now am thrilled to say that I work in the pharmaceutical industry, selling and marketing life saving medicines.  I believe that I am inadvertently helping people.  I love this change that I made to my life and I am deeply happy with my career move.  Yet, had I not had cancer, I may never have done this. 

I also furthered my education by completing a Masters Degree in Business Administration.  I had always wanted to do a masters, but the time was never right.  I quickly realised that the time was never going to be right and I just went for it.  Of course it was hard, but over the course of two years, I did it.  There was no way that I would have pushed myself to do this had I not had cancer.

I am an extremely positive person.  I believe that exposing yourself to daily positivity and motivational quotes can have a fantastic positive impact on your life and health.  Every day I read many quotes of positivity and positive thinking.  I do believe that you can if you think that you can.  I have a mantra that I repeat over and over if I am walking, driving, relaxing or working:-

"I am healthy, I am strong, I am a warrior, I will win".

I just made it up one day and it works for me!  You should try to invent your own quote to repeat daily.  The is no substitute for a positive mental attitude.  And you must exercise it daily.  Surround yourself with positive people, thoughts and places.

I also try to eat a healthy diet, high fibre, low fat, no sugar or processed foods.  Home made, natural foods work best for me.  It really does make you feel better.  I have more energy, I feel good and I feel healthy. 

Exercise has huge benefits too.  Anything that you like to do is good; walking, cycling, dancing or going to exercise classes.  I try to exercise for a fifteen minutes to half an hour every day, if possible.  It helps you both mentally and physically.  You honestly do feel better and your body will thank you for it.

I believe that having a healthy body and mind helps me to remain cancer free.  When my treatment finished, I vowed that I would make positive changes to my life to ensure that I did not have to endure any future cancer treatment.  I am now focused on being healthy and happy.

So, in conclusion, my top tips for a positive, healthy and happy life are:-

1.  Examine your lifestyle. 
Do you need to make any changes in order to reduce stress in your life?  Could you be happier by changing your job?  Do you need to examine and perhaps change or improve any relationships in you life?  Examine every aspect of your life.  Can you improve it?

2.  Change your diet.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.  Avoid radical "diets".  Eat more fruit and vegetables.  Try to eat a high fibre, low fat diet.  Cut out sugar and processed food.  Prepare your own meals with fresh, local produce.

3.  Exercise Daily.
Even a small walk every day can make a big difference.  Do something that you enjoy.  And do it every day.  Make it a lifestyle choice and have fun with exercise.

4.  Think Positive.
It is critical to focus on positive thoughts.  Read daily motivational quotes and create your own one.  Surround yourself with positive and happy people.

5.  Be Happy and Enjoy Life.
Aim to enjoy every day.  Do fun activities.  Challenge yourself.  Try something new.  Do things that you always wanted to do.  Life can change in the blink of an eye, so appreciate it and make the most of every day that you have in this world.  Make your life count.  Make a difference.  xxx  :-)

A photo my me and my work colleagues wearing pink to work for Breast Cancer Awareness in October, 2014.
Photo by Denis Connolly