Learning to Live With Who You Are When Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer by Allayne Roper

There are so many cancers out there of all kinds that men and women of all ages and I repeat of ALL ages endure every day they are alive. Many can be put into remission and many can’t. There are many unsung heroes out there too who do great things for the various cancer charities and we should remember them, for without them, we would not get the treatment we do.

I have breast cancer which is my primary and then the little critters (the cancer cells) decided my breast tissue was not enough, they needed to move to new pastures and made way towards my spine, liver and lungs – although we believe that they did not like the lungs, too noisy so moved back to the spine. These are referred to as secondary cancers. I can never be put into remission as there are too many cancer cells in my body to be able to become that. I call it “sods” law, excuse my French!

I had no knowledge of the breast cancer and it is not known how long it had been building new homes in my back. So much so, my spinal cord was being compressed by the cancer cells. Not satisfied with that, they thought temporary accommodation was not sufficient and wanted something with permanent features and so invaded the bones of my spine!

What I have gone through is nothing compared to some cancer patients. Life can be cruel and we cannot pick and choose to have the disease. No one in my family had had cancer, so we know it wasn’t hereditary to our knowledge.

Two years on, and I am still here fighting big time. Since being diagnosed, I have come through a sceptic appendix and pneumonia this year! The reason I am saying this is that you can achieve the hardest situations, despite what you may think at the time.

Since being diagnosed, I have been on a lot of drugs to control the back where they had to do a laminectomy to remove the tumour building a ruddy big housing development!! Since that operation, which took nearly 4/5 hours to complete. I understand there was a lot of blood and my bones were like Swiss cheese so they could not do any reconstructive surgery, they just put me back together, it is all they could do at the time to get things underway. I know I spent a week in neurology before I was moved down to Oncology where I spent the next 6 weeks. In the end, I felt a bit like the furniture!

During my stay here, I underwent radiotherapy, chemo for 13 cycles and pain killers of various sorts and various injections and blood taken every few days. I also was given an external brace to help me sit and move about. I can’t tell you what that day felt when it was brought up, specially measured, and fitted and with Libby my physio, and a nurse, I sat up and got a massive head rush. I was sitting – it felt weird. I also had to be taught to walk again. I can tell you trying to get messages from your head down to your legs, is not as easy as you might think.

Even to this day, I have nerve damage, but walk with the aid of crutches or a walking stick now, which is my life line. I still have to concentrate what I am doing or I am all over the place. You may wonder why, how, I wish I could tell you, they believe nerve damage by the tumour has played a part, but hell, I am alive and in a better place than most. For long distances of any kind, my wheelchair is our friend and helps me get around.

You have to see some of the patients who have resigned themselves to their fate with their cancers. Even so, the change in them from a frail patient, to being in their own clothes and wigs, they look so different, feisty and strong. You feel very proud and wish that you will be like them soon.

January the 26 2012 is the best day of my life. I came home. One thing I have not mentioned is my now husband, Paul. He was with me at the start of all these when my walking deteriorated to being confined to a wheelchair and had to have an MRI scan. He saw whilst I was in the tube with the images being made of me, that something was amiss. What he felt during that time breaks my heart. No one should have to witness that but he did, he held my hand, and never let go. Paul even proposed to me in hospital as we honestly did not know if I would survive as I was so ill when admitted.

Paul and I married in March, the 26, Paul’s birthday and it was the most magical day of our lives. It was also very emotional and there was not a dry eye in the Church that day.

As a couple we are very close now, we have come through so much together and when I am feeling low, Paul picks me up, dusts me down and helps me get my perspective back. We both deal with the cancer in our own ways, we have to, or we would destroy ourselves and that is not going to happen.

I treasure every new day I am given and am slowly coming to terms with the new woman I see now in the mirror and her limitations and strong resolve to live and make some treasured memories before my health turns and who knows what then, but that has not happened yet but for me, is always there in the back of my mind.

My Church prays for me every week and without their prayers, I don’t think I would be where I am now.

To all of you out there who has someone with cancer, please talk to each other, that way you all understand where everyone is coming from. It may not always be easy but you need to be aware of the ones you love who have to deal with watching you live with the cancer. It’s not easy for them at all and it is not easy for them to hear the Oncologist or Registrar say what they see. When we heard the news new tumours had developed in my liver, I got upset, the cancer was back, but if they can find me a drug to stop its growth, then I will endure what side effects it may have. I am a fighter and I have no intention of leaving Paul behind, God willing for a long time yet.

Thank you for reading this.

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