I receive many messages from people across the world. Recently, one person asked me if I saw myself as a sick person. I found it a really interesting question because someone with cancer must be sick, right?
When I was diagnosed, I really didn’t feel unwell, not enough to consider myself an ill person. Prior to diagnosis, I suppose like everyone else on the planet, I had normal day-to-day stuff come along but that always settled in days or weeks. But never enough to call myself a sick person other than as a temporary label. Quite often I would ignore the illness and continue working and other day to day activities. In hindsight, some of these issues might have been connected to my cancer but that’s the nature of medicine sometimes. I try not to reflect too much on what might have been.
Even after diagnosis of advanced and incurable cancer, I still didn’t feel unwell and continued to work and go on holiday. Chris and I jetted off eight weeks after the diagnosis, there was a nice gap right in between starting daily octreotide and a liver embolisation. OK the subsequent procedures and surgeries I had were tough and I guess if you looked at me lying in a hospital bed, you would quite rightly assume I was a sick person. But as I said above, it’s only ever been a temporary label because when I was strong again, I went back to work and continued going on holiday and going about my life in a relatively normal fashion. Sure, I made changes, but sick or not, don’t we all make adjustments to suit changes in circumstance?
Despite the furore that erupts in reaction to the ubiquitous invisible illness clichés we see, I don’t really mind ‘looking well’, I mean who wants to look unwell? I’m very happy to look well, and very happy to feel well. I’m not seeking pity or victim status. While we’re on the subject of labels, I have cancer but please don’t call me a ‘sufferer’ – I’m far from being a sufferer, an old-fashioned term for those with illness and I’m thankful I see less of its use today.
I can’t undo my diagnosis of advanced and incurable cancer and I refuse to retreat into a corner feeling sorry for myself. After all, I’m not a sick person just because I have cancer, I can still get on with living my life.
Thanks for reading