Running into Cancer – The cost of Covid-19

I don’t want this to come across as a whinge and me sounding needy. There are people in far worse positions than I am, like John whose operation to remove a brain tumour has been cancelled and may become inoperable depending on when the NHS are able to reschedule the operation post Covid-19. Then there are men in our Prostate Cancer UK Facebook Support Group newly diagnosed but not able to have treatment because there are no intensive care beds available or chemo would be a huge risk. Then other friends, like Sue, on active chemotherapy with massively compromised immune systems who face huge threat from Covid-19.

When I was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer in May 2017 and told that I may only have two years to live it was utterly devastating. It took months for my head to get into a place where I thought less about dying and more about living.

Everybody thinks of me as being strong but they don’t see the bad days, the break downs and the tears. Only one person sees that and gets me through the other side.

Even when things got onto a more even keel there were still lots of days when the dark dog visited and depression/anxiety would descend and even a total melt down in October 2018 that needed counselling and the amazing folk at The Neil Cliffe centre calming me down and bringing me back from what felt like the brink.

What I learned about myself was that I had lots to offer and that I could help save lives by raising awareness of Prostate Cancer and I threw myself into that doing talks every couple of weeks.

Immediately after I was diagnosed I knew that I had to get away from working and focus on living. My Grandson Ethan, then 4, who was the absolute apple of my eye became even more important to me and I reduced work hours in September 2017 so that I could pick him up from school and build memories with/for him. I’ve adored that special time.

Then along came Grandson number two, Finn, in June 2018 who I would start to look after on Fridays and build a bond with just like I had with Ethan. They are both very special to me.

Ethan and I starting the 2019 Prostate Cancer UK March for Men
Finn at March for Men 2019

5K Your Way, a cancer support group linked to parkrun encouraging those living with and beyond cancer to exercise and socialise afterwards over a coffee, came into my life in late 2018 and I launched Wilmslow parkrun 5KYW with my buddy Sara Harris in February 2019 and it also became a massively important part of my life. So much so that I jumped at the chance to become North West Champion for 5KYW.

Wilmslow parkrun 5k Your Way launch February 2019

Before my diagnosis I had never really “got” parkrun but that too became a massively important part of my life at Wilmslow parkrun, building friendships with some amazing people.

Then Covid-19 entered our lives and wreaked havoc for all of us.

From a totally selfish viewpoint I’ve found it really challenging. Everything that has got me through the last 3 years of horror of living with stage 4 cancer was wrenched from my grasp. Added to which, like everyone else, I now have to live with the threat of Covid-19 ending my life potentially even more prematurely than the cancer will.

Not seeing the boys has been terribly difficult. I so miss the hugs and cuddles and football/cricket matches. FaceTime is great but it’s not the same and Finn changes every day at this age.

I’ve spent three years mourning my pre cancer life and then everything that has got me through the three years is taken away and yes I’ve been to dark places a few times over recent days.

However, I’ve managed to stay afloat and come back to the light. This is a really really horrible blip in life but most of us will come out the other side and a new normal will return. I feel desperately sad for those that we have and will continue to lose to Covid-19 and their families and it makes me so angry when I see people completely flouting the social distancing rules and condemning more people to an early death.

This weekend, when the clocks change, Spring will spring and with it the hope of brighter better days and many more Springs. Unfortunately not everybody will see those Springs but we can do our best to make sure as many people do by doing what is asked of us by the Government and protecting our incredible and brave NHS workers. Please please please #StayAtHomeSaveLives