So this is something I have given a lot of thought to and since writing this post I’ve realised that, after everything I’ve been through, I am a ‘Fusion of a Fighter and Survivor’.
In the cancer community some class themselves as survivors and some as fighters so this is something I have been contemplating lately. When I started to break down my thoughts and feelings after writing a bio for a social media platform I found myself relating to both. This may seem trivial but an interesting subject to explore. Once I started to develop this post I actually found that it is not as black and white as I’d thought. Especially before I was diagnosed, I just assumed you were one or the other…I believe this subject is applicable to anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis or suffered any other traumatic life changing event.
So yes I’m in remission and I have survived the brutal chemotherapy which in itself can be life threatening so I am a survivor, right?
While my body was fighting the Leukaemia my mind wasn’t contemplating the enormity of it all. Mentally I was purely focused on getting through each seemingly unending and grim day. I’ve since come to the conclusion that my mind was protecting me from the devastating reality of my disease, not something I did intentionally but it meant that I tolerated all of the setbacks and alarming moments along the way. It’s only since finishing treatment that everything has taken its toll. The mind is a very complex thing and survival instinct is something you don’t even know you have until you are thrown into a life or death situation. At this point I was a fighter, fighting to live, a very basic thing. I hadn’t yet reached the point where I could class myself as a survivor, not until my treatment had finished at least.
Once my treatment had finished I very much felt like a survivor and with that came a feeling of euphoria, strength and pride, part of a ‘club’ I was more than happy to be a member of. I very much felt that my fight was over and that my life would be like it used to be however, as more time has passed it’s dawned on me that I am still fighting…emotionally, physically and psychologically. Even if I was cured I’d still be fighting the after effects of the whole devastating experience. I really had no idea I would feel like this back when I was first home from the hospital.
It is certainly a battle trying to get across that you are still very much recovering when on the outside you look ok. Often I feel like I don’t belong anymore, when conversations leave me feeling totally alone, misunderstood or when friends chat about the future and all I can think is ‘I don’t even know if I will be here in 5 years time’. These are friends I still have so much in common with apart from this great big black cloud that follows me around so I am regularly fighting to keep my emotions under control.
Yet the survivor part of me means I am driven to do what I can, help in any way I can which has lead to becoming an Ambassador for the blood cancer charity Bloodwise. My husband and I have done lots of fundraising and supported others going through the cancer journey. I no longer doubt my worth or what my life should be about and that is a wonderful feeling.
Am I a Survivor of Fighter?
So it seems that I am in a cycle of surviving and fighting…perhaps all survivors are fighters in one way or another? And even though you have survived something you still have to fight to move on from it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this…please leave a comment below…ButterflyinRemission