Anniversaries & Awesome Teens
November 11th 2014 was one of the best days of my life. November 13th 2014 was one of the worst.
It’s been a whole year now since I found the new lump, and today marks a year since I officially found out I’d relapsed. The days in-between that involved the most incredible day in London when I sang at Royal Albert Hall.
And I’m a little confused as to how I feel about the whole thing. I have felt rather down, but more related to the amazing day I had, more than the cancer. After all, if I hadn’t accepted that by now, I don’t think I never would! It’s more that I feel emotional that it’s been a whole year since that day, the last day I felt completely well and completely me. I’m not saying that was the last time I was happy by any means, just that things had always felt like they’ve had to compromise in some way since then.
The recent anniversary has made me think a lot about how the world looks at people with cancer.
There has been a video circulating the Internet of a teen in New Zealand , Jake Bailey, who gave an amazing head boy speech shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. The speech is a great one, full of wisdom and integrity- made remarkable by the fact he was told he wouldn’t be able to leave hospital to make the speech. He admits the seriousness of his diagnosis, and how his doctors had told him he would be dead within weeks without treatment. That resonated deeply with me, because I was told the same things, told I had to start treatment immediately and we had the same diagnosis. Except I wasn’t cool enough to be head boy, giving a big speech. My personal speech was actually wanting to eat Christmas dinner. I got a chest drain instead. Yay for me
The thing that I hate about his story is that a large number of news outlets that have decided to interpret this as a terminal diagnosis. It isn’t. At all. For one, being told of certain death without treatment could apply to many cases diseases and conditions…..like diabetes or measles, so to be told that for a cancer diagnosis makes sense to me, the time frame only showing the seriousness of the situation. His teacher even makes a point of saying that Jake has a good prognosis. It really angers me that he would then be reported as dying!
Imagine how it would make you feel, to battle hard to be able to make a speech, to have so many people be touched by the story and you achieve your goal of touching people ad impart an important message, only for the point of it to be ovr-ruled by silly and thoughtless journalism. Imagine having people talk about you as if you were on your deathbed when YOU ARE NOT.
There seems to be a love of tradgedy surrounding teenagers and cancer. For though I’m sure no one wants anyone to die, there is a certain feeling of love towards that martyrdom, ‘waste of life’ etc. And I am just so confused by it. Fed up of hearing about it. Because this journey shouldn’t be sensationalised.
Plenty of people have heard my views on what Hollywood does in stories about people with cancer. Well media, this week my message to you is that the same of m continually message to film directors and writers…. Not everyone with cancer dies. Or is going to die. Some of us do pretty well. Even the ones who can write and give awesome speeches. Even the ones who even I will say are pretty ‘inspirational’ despite my squeamishness around that word.
it makes me wonder how I could be perceived. I may be bald, and spend most of my time on a cancer ward, but I don’t have cancer. And I haven’t had cancer for the whole of this year (!) I reached remission on New Years Eve It really seems to go against the way we are sort of taught to perceive and stereotype this illness, to think that people are getting better, even if they aren’t looking ‘normal’. My mum has had several people assume that because I’m still coming back and forward hospital, I’m still seriously ill and have reacted in a negative way upon hearing I’m not on chemo…. assuming the worst and that chemo isn’t working , not the truth which is that I don’t need it!!
It’s what’s getting me through this week, just that thought that though it has been a year since everything came crashing down again, though it’s been a year since I had that wonderful fab day in Royal Albert Hall, being a year since relapse also means I am so so close to being a year in remission. Won’t it be the best way to start 2016 knowing I’ve been disease free for a year?
Hopefully I can enter 2016 well and truly clear of my pesky virus’ also!
if you want to watch the awesome speech I’ve talked about, you can below 🙂