Over 37 years of my life I have made some pretty outstanding mates and most of them I have known for over half of it. They’re not just my friends but my life long, dependable, amazingly fantastic besties. Without them, cancer would have been not only draining and unbearable but really, really lonely. As you get older I think its harder to meet people that are comparable to the peeps who have known your entire life. You know the ones I mean; they are the cling on’s, your partners in crime , the ones that could send you to jail with all the dirt they have on you and the ones who have been through all your why-did-you-let-me-date-that-fuckwit boyfriends, really bad life choices and alllll the levels of crazy that make you who you are today. I’m proud to say I have a lot of those people in my life and Iv come to terms that I am clearly the token hot friend. Anyways there is a point to this blog
In the days after I was diagnosed I generally stayed clear from any sort of search engine and anything to do with online self help because lets face it, it only makes it worse as you scroll through all the depressing self-diagnosis prostate stories and adjoining photos…or as I call it, virtual fork stabs to my eyes. But as I settled into my chemical regime I decided I needed to reach out and started looking for support groups online. Now, I really have never been one for obtaining my “Groupie” status. I never joined a mothers group after my kids were born as I’m a bit too honest for that stuff ( translation: I’m an asshole ) and just find it hard to relate to people who tell wild lies of how awesome pregnancy is, share breast pumping techniques and then spend the next hour after you leave discussing how shit of a mum you are. Look, I’m sure that’s a bit of a generalisation but I’m quite happy drinking my body weight in wine and crying in the shower thanks, no need to discuss it. (eye twitch) . So anyways , I popped my self help cherry and found a Hodgkin Lymphoma support group with people from all over the world. Originally I went on there hoping that by reading other peoples stories it would make mine seem less serious, my head seem less bald, my ass seem less fat and my personality seem way more interesting…but what I found was sooooooo much more and it seriously changed my life ….ENTER ASHLEY ( I call her Smashley cos STRAYA MATE ).
My brand new, shiny Lymphoma friend Smashley was not only awesome but she was young, she had a baby, she had Cancer and she was as petrified as me….oh and she laughed at my jokes so LIKE O-M-G #didwejustbecomefriends, #cancermadeusfat #igavebirthtoababyandcancer, cry emoji, laughing emoji, poo emoji , two girls in that black outfit dancing with bunny ears emoji ….And I didn’t even have to pay her! Smashley and I shared our deepest fears, we hit rock bottom together, we clawed our way back together and we told each other things that we would only usually tell our closest of friends. We survived together. We would talk to each other hourly, helping with the sickness, the ulcers, the pain, the anxiety, the terror and we supported each other in the days leading up to each chemo round all whist nursing our babies. At the time I don’t really think we realised the impact we were having on each other’s lives but as that time went on we became almost locked to each other and dependent on each other to get through each day. I finished my chemo about a month before Smashley and as we both recovered, I think we realised that Remission was a hell of a lot harder than we both had prepared for. The constant fear of cancer coming back, the emotional and physical impact, the breakdown of relationships, friendships and the realisation that we had changed but everything else had remained the same …it was all showing its ugly face but in unison. It was unexpected and it hurt but because we had each other, it was bearable. Looking back I can’t tell you how much I needed her , I still do, and even now to have someone who needs no explanation of how I’m feeling but just gets It; Its priceless and every person who is going through cancer needs someone like this to depend on.
As Smashly and I still talk daily, I often think of the people going through cancer and wonder if they have someone who truly understands what they are going through. It sounds horrible ,but as much as you have all these people surrounding you, helping you, hugging you..its the loneliest thing you will ever endure. As much as your closest friends and family watch on while you fight for your life and see you at your most venerable state, they don’t truly understand. Even as much as you want them to and as much as they try. That’s why having Ash in my life was crucial for my survival, for my strength to go on, for my mental health and for my continued recovery.
And here lies my point to this blog
If you are reading this and you have an intimate relationship with cancer, please immerse yourself with people who are going through the same thing, the same pain and the same mental state because its integral to your fight and your recovery.
And if you are wondering where to find your very own Smashley?…. just search ” virtual forks stabs for your eyes.”