In October 2012, following a routine hysterectomy operation, I was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer. During a seven-hour operation in Berlin to remove the tumour, it was discovered that the cancer had already spread into my intestines.
Following two years of treatment, which couldn’t fully remove all the cancer in my intestines, I feel I am at a crossroads in my life. Before the cancer, I went through a traumatic divorce, and now I feel I have a second chance to live. For the first time ever, I am starting to allow myself to enjoy my life. I have focused on learning to love myself, positive thoughts, having fun, laughing and expressing my feelings – all of which had been hard for me to do beforehand. Divorce taught me independence, but cancer has taught me to love myself for who I am, a gift, allowing me to be myself with no more masks.
And now, during the last two weeks, I have discovered my cancer is active again. Another crossroads. Another milestone. Time to regroup and focus on me and on everything that I have learned so far.
I have my survival kit. My friends, my partner and my family are my lifeline, a ‘harbour’ – my safe place in the storm. Surviving Me’s sleep relaxation CD helps me to switch off at night when I need to rest most, keeping the fear away. And if I wake in the night, it is there for comfort in my isolation. I have learnt so much about myself: what makes me strong, what my coping strategies are and how to live for each day, as that is all there really is for all of us. I have created positive habits which have helped to give me the energy to start each day, including writing, relaxation and the removal of negatives from my world. I have learnt how to make the most of today and not tomorrow. I have learnt what happiness is.