An Introduction to Me (And Cancer) …

I’m lying in bed, trying to write this blog and trying even harder to catch your attention. So here goes… My name is Beth, I am 21 years old, and I have cancer.

I decided to deploy the C-word pretty early because it does have its benefits, including the ability to get people to listen to you, and maybe even do what you want (in an entirely un-bratty/un-manipulation-y way of course). I have never written anything like this before and, since I read that a writer must secure their reader’s attention within the first few seconds, I really did feel that drama, that certain je ne sais quoi, the C-word brings was entirely called for.

But from now on I will not be calling cancer the C-word because, let’s face it, cancer is no Voldemort, and it will not be smiting you if it hears you call it by it’s full name. I may, however, be using the ever so elegant terming of the ‘C-bomb’ from time to time because I think it is absolutely brilliant. Because cancer is just that: it is a bomb that disrupts your life and threatens to turn you into someone else, a cancer patient. It threatens to define you.

It’s easy to let that happen, but it’s easier not to. So let me introduce myself now I’ve hopefully caught your attention.

louvre

One of the many super edgy photos I took whilst interrailing around Europe. This particular one was of The Louvre in Paris.

My name is Beth and I am 21 years old. I have just finished my third year studying Physics in London, a city which I love. I like to dance, run and watch Tipping Point, Millionaire Matchmaker and most shitty TV if I’m being honest (apart from Loose Women which is the worst). I like watching Bridget Jones with a glass of red wine (not alone, just to clear that up) but I also love ridiculously bad horror and action films. I like to take pictures that are sub-semi-decent and then edit them to death so I look dead edgy and trendy. I peaked at 18 years old when I got a free Krispy Kreme from Harrods. I like going out with friends and basically doing all the things a 21 year old likes to do, unless you are a 21 year old who likes going to Tiger Tiger Croydon. Then we might differ slightly.

But let’s face it, that shit is not interesting… This is a cancer blog so let’s get to the juicy stuff. I am a cancer patient and I am waiting now for my second operation, of which a date has been set for 29th September 2015. I want to say here, that my prognosis is good; my doctors and surgeons expect me to make a full recovery with the help of some surgery, a sprinkle of proton therapy and a dash of chemo. My cancer type is a soft tissue sarcoma, which is very rare and makes up only 1% of cancers. Specifically it is a Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour (MPNST because that is a mouthful) and they make up only 5-10% of soft tissue sarcomas. Basically my cancer is special, just like me. (lol)

My cancer was initially missed in an MRI in February and then finally spotted in June, but was thought to be benign. This period of time, before which I even knew I had cancer, was the worst. The tumour was growing up the base of the sciatic nerve on the right side of my body and caused an enormous, indescribable amount of pain. Surprisingly, my neurosurgeon spotting a tumour in June was a relief. Although that feeling may have been down to the copious amount of drugs I was on. Even cancer, in my opinion, is better than the alternative, which would have been chronic pain. Back in June, we all knew that within a short amount of time, without surgery, I would have been unable to walk. The combination of drugs I was on was giving me panic attacks every few minutes and at points even staying upright was a struggle. And so for me it’s been hard to get too down about what’s happening.

brighton

The family and I on one of our recent excursions to Brighton.

I have kept saying to any of my friends that I have spoken to, “It doesn’t matter, well it does matter, but also it doesn’t”. In that incredibly literate and concise sentence what I’m trying to say is that these things happen. It’s something I am going through, and will come out of looking slightly balder, but okay (fingers crossed). 1 in 3 people have cancer; cancer is a thing now. It’s a scary word and yes, it is a scary thing, but for me personally, I have no alternative other than to just get on with it. I have a week until my next operation and until then I will live life as normal. Recently, I have been out with my family, seen friends, been on a night out, been on a date (you know who you are, you lucky thing) and the weekend before my op date I am going to a wedding. Before my operation I am determined to do things.

And it turns out one of those things was to start this blog. I guess the reason for writing such a blog is partially because it is a good outlet for myself and gives me something to focus on, both now and further down the line when I might not have the energy to do much else. Self-involvement aside, I want this blog to be useful to past or current cancer patients, as well as their friends and family. Whilst reading this, I want people who have cancer to gain insight into another’s experiences and know that they are not alone and that whatever they’re feeling is okay. I also want their friends and family to understand how they might be feeling, and what they might be thinking (although let’s be clear I am no psychologist and may/will be way off the mark on a few/all of these things ). Additionally, it is my hope that this blog might be mildly interesting. And that it does not read like the lost chapter from ‘The Fault in our Stars’ (No disrespect to the book; I thought it was very good, but a little depressing.) So basically this blog will be my very own cancer-fest, where I will share my experiences and thoughts and most likely occasionally bitch about cancer.

I will end this entry by saying that cancer is me, but it is not all of me. I think it would be easy to want to keep ‘cool me’ and ‘cancer me’ separate but it’s not possible. It’s not easy to stop the waves of the sea that is cancer from washing over you, but for me my saving graces have been the people around me, the copious amounts of cake they have provided and laughter. I am actually generally quite a private person (which if you don’t know me particularly well might read like the biggest load of BS considering I appear to have lay my business out here for all to see) but this has taught me to be more open and let people help. No amount of cancer, however, will be teaching me to let people help when suppositories are involved.

(As a saddening and heartbreaking afterthought I will actually finish with a shout out to the glorious trip to Thailand that could have been if only I was 18, I’m looking at you Make A Wish.)

Some photos of my friends and I before tumour gate

The people from the photos on this page have been particularly brilliant through all of this, and I want to thank every single one of them.

 

 

About the Author

tumourhasit@gmail.com

26 Comments

tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hello there “Paul Silver Fox”! Thanks for the lovely message, it is always nice to hear from you all! The toffee popcorn has just been finished off: I looked in the cupboard this morning to eat the last of it for breakfast but it turns out my mum had eaten it all… disgraceful!! I hope to see you soon, I’ve got a free desserts voucher for Zizzi’s if you fancy getting a bit to eat after I come out of hospital. Lots of love xoxoxo

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Tracey Mckinnon

Well done on your first blog Beth, a great read! Our best wishes are with you each day in the road ahead. Tracey, Josh & Jade xx

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Tracey, lovely to hear from you! I hope you are all well. Thank you for the support, it is so encouraging know I have people behind me. If you enjoyed the blog and haven’t already, please feel free to subscribe so that you will receive an email notifying you when I have posted anything new. Lots of love xoxoxo

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Sian

Good luck for the op Beth, an incredibly well written piece – I bet your family are very proud of you. Your courage is amazing. Looking forward to hearing you are on the road to recovery xx

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Sian! I hope you are well! Thank you for the lovely message, I really appreciate your kind words. If you enjoyed the blog and haven’t already done so, then please feel free to subscribe so that you will receive an email notifying you when I have posted anything new. Lots of love xoxoxo

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Nikki chapman

Beth my darling I’m so sorry to hear this awful news. You are an inspiration and I’m so proud of you. Love and strength Nikki xxxxxx

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Nikki! Thanks for the message, I really appreciate it! I hope you are all well, and much love to you, Holly and Taylor xoxoxo

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Lydia

Dear Beth, you don’t know me but I’ve been forwarded your blog and what a blog it is. I’m so impressed with how brave and honest you are. I just wanted to wish you all the best for your op and to day I will be thinking of you and sending you all my positive thoughts. I very much look forward to your ‘Thing not to say to a cancer patient’ blog -I think I could add a few to that one myself. Best of luck. Kia Kaha.

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Lydia! I really appreciate your kind words, and it is so kind of you to leave such a lovely message. I appreciate all the positive thoughts, it really is so encouraging for me to know that I have people behind me. I will be entering some posts into that section very soon, and so if you are keen to read them and haven’t already, please feel free to subscribe so that you will receive an email notifying you when I have. I am going to start asking people who have had or currently have cancer to send in some of the things they have had said to them along the way, so if you have any experiences you would like to share with me where people who said ridiculous, awful, funny or otherwise things to you, then please email them to tumourhasit@gmail.com! xoxoxo

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Thank you for your message, I am so glad that you are enjoying the blog. I am doing my best, and will continue to fight this until I have beat it! 🙂 xoxoxo

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Nicola Hart

I have just read your blog Beth and it is brilliant ! I just wanted to let you know that I will be thinking of you on September 29th when you have your next surgery and looking forward to your next blog when you feel up to it. I had neurosurgery myself for a tumour diagnosed 9 years ago and understand how vulnerable this leaves you feeling. Hang on in there, you are doing great x

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Nicola, thank you so much! I appreciate the kind thoughts, I will be posting as soon as I able to after surgery! If you are keen to continue reading my blog and haven’t already, please feel free to subscribe so that you will receive an email notifying you each time I put up a new post. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this yourself, and I hope you are doing well now. Good luck with everything in the future, and I hope you continue to keep good health. Many thanks xoxoxo

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Jo Ridge

Hi Beth,
You don’t know me, but a friend of mine sent details of your blog on facebook.
Your blog was brilliantly written and you come across as a bright and intelligent person who has a wonderful and positive attitude, your blog is an inspiration to us all. I will be thinking of you on the 29th and wish you the very best for a speedy recovery. You are amazing 🙂 x

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Jo! Thanks for your message, it means a lot to receive such lovely words of support. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog; if you haven’t already, please feel free to subscribe so that you will receive an email notifying you each time I put up a new post. Thank you for the kind thoughts; I will be posting as soon as I am able after the surgery xoxoxo

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Allison, thanks for the message! I hope you, Robbie and the rest of the family are well! If you are keen on continuing to read the blog, please feel free to subscribe to the mailing list, if you haven’t already, so that you can get notified whenever I put up a new post. Xoxoxo

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Stuart

Hi Beth, we don’t know each other but felt I had to comment on the blog. I am presently receiving treatment for accute adult leukaemia and therefore every word you wrote and the emotion and sentiment resonated with me. What you are doing is fantastic partially as a coping mechanism but also as a help and support to others like me and my family. Your positive approach to tackling the illness is fantastic. You keep fighting the good fight and I will keep reading your blog. Take care and goof luck with the operation.

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Stuart, thank you so much for the message. It really means a lot hearing from people like yourself, who have gone through a similar thing and know exactly how it feels. I am so glad you found the blog useful and that it meant something to you, it is so important to me to get this type of feedback. Good luck to you, and if ever you feel you could do with a chat or anything at all, please feel free to drop me an email. And also, thanks for the good luck and I will indeed continue to fight!! Xoxoxo

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Stuart

Hi Beth, thanks for the reply that was lovely. Likewise, if ever you need a chat with a fellow ‘fighter’ just shout. And just to clarify I did mean to type ‘good luck’ not ‘goof luck’ sorry haha

Louise

Hi Beth,
We’re rooting for you! Lots of luck – will be reading the blog to see how you are progressing. Love, the Lombardis xx

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hey Louise! I hope you are all well! Thanks for the message of support and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog! If you are not subscribed already, feel free to so that you can get alerts when I put up any more posts! Xoxoxo

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Thomas Whitt

Hi Beth. My daughter was 3 when she was diagnosed with grade-III ependymoma of the brain and underwent surgery…she then began proton therapy shortly after her 4th birthday (late-April of 2015). Reading your posts are like reliving that time–the shock and disbelief followed by waves of anger, fear, denial, more fear, LOTS more anger…and then some form of acceptance, although I don’t really like the passivity that term implies. Resolve, maybe? Anyway, your spirit has certainly lifted mine…hope your surgery goes well and feel free to ask me anything about the proton experience. Ramona did hers in suburban Chicago, but I’ve heard that Jacksonville is top-flight as well. We might have a third-world passenger rail service over here, but we CAN build excellent tumor-zapping machines! 🙂 All the best…

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

Hi Thomas, thanks for the message and I’m so sorry about the lateness of my response. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, I hope you and your family are all doing well now. I’m hoping to be back out in Jacksonville for proton within a few weeks and I cannot wait since I thought it was amazing the last time I went out there for a week before they found my cancer was back. You are so very lucky to have the machines in America, although at least I get a nice holiday out of England not having any!

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Angela

Hi Beth – I work with your Dad and he sent your blog details with his Christmas message today so I thought I’d have a look and I’m pleased that I did. It’s a great read and I admire you for sharing in such an open, honest and humorous way. I’ll be following you here and on Facebook. All the very best to you, and I hope you all have a lovely Christmas x

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