Hope After Cancer Juliet's story
Juliet (she/her) - British
Diagnosed in 2019 - Hodgkins Lymphoma
I can do anything I put my mind to. I can get through any challenge thrown at me. I have everything I need to succeed.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in November 2019, just before the 'delights' of the pandemic began.
As with everyone’s journey through treatment, I didn’t find it easy, and whilst the physical symptoms were tough, one of the biggest things for me was the mental ‘pause’ I had to take in my fledgling creative business. I was annoyed, after getting going, that I had to put things on hold on the business that I created and loved.
However, it did also keep me distracted through treatment, doing the things that I could do, in-between treatment when I felt well enough. So, when I finally finished treatment at the end of November 2020, I tried, probably too quickly, to get back to some kind of normality, but still had the final scan in the back of my mind, which wasn’t for another 3 months.
I cracked on to get through the busyness of Christmas, my birthday and the still prominent ‘stresses’ of lockdown, but I was also conscious of burying what I’d just been through and keeping ‘too’ busy – a very well used coping mechanism of mine!
I knew about Life After Cancer, through Steph, who’d also had Hodgkins Lymphoma like me, and so once I got the ‘In remission’ news in February 2021, I decided to sign up to the Life after Cancer coaching programme partly out of curiosity in the wellbeing work that I do, and partly to give me an outlet to process the last 15 months. I loved the weekly sessions and having the chance to speak to others who totally 'got it'.
"The biggest challenge I found was that the people around me expected me to just jump back up and feel well, and whilst I didn’t feel unwell, it took a while to get my energy back, look more like me and regain the mental strength and motivation for the next steps."
I think I wanted to get back to normal asap, and that included having a hair style that I recognised as me, at first it was bizarre, auburnish curls! Once the curls had gone and I highlighted it back to blonde, I felt like me again.
Once we were into Spring, and I was back out walking the dog, I felt so much better. I love being out in nature and breathing in the fresh Spring air gave me more energy and helped clear the chemo brain fog.
I gradually got back to all the things I’d loved doing before, connecting with people in the various groups I belonged to, getting excited about new creative projects, and
being able to plan ahead, without hospital appointments in mind and being allowed ‘out’ once the ‘extremely vulnerable’ lot were finally set free!
I’d continued being a part of the accountability group I’d founded with a friend, throughout my treatment and lockdown via Zoom, and finally we were back to meeting face to face in the local café, it was such a good feeling seeing people properly again.
Last year, since remission, I worked really hard to get back to a good place with the business and grow it, I felt a little cheated losing those 15 months, but someone told me recently that those 15 months allowed me to get back to this and some! we sometimes forget that I think.
Now I’m in a great place and have qualified as a coach thanks to Life After Cancer and the company Noorworks, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Without this challenging journey, that might not have happened, and I get to help fellow cancer patients who have been through it too which is a real privilege.
That’s not to say I don’t still have my moments and occasional worries about the future. Having had cancer at the relatively ‘young’ age of 45, the treatment I’ve had comes with future risks, but I’ve always been a ‘live for today’ person, and that stands me in good stead.
But for me, what guides me through is having passion and purpose in life – I was lucky to have discovered that before all this with my creative and nature interests and desire to help others.
I know many people haven’t found that yet, but cancer teaches you that it’s so important to live the life you truly want, and just go for it, because you do only get one shot. It’s a harsh lesson sometimes, but in a sense we have been gifted that awareness and we can use it to our advantage.
I always ask myself ‘What is the worst that can happen?’ if I‘m unsure on anything, and then usually dive right in, even if I’m nervous, because I like challenging myself. It makes life interesting and allows you to grow and fully embrace life, which is what it’s all about for me. Cancer has given me even more courage to do just that, and not look back.
If anyone would like to find out more about my creative business, 'Curious creative club' you can do so here which includes Lives and podcasts talking about my story too, or connect on Instagram with me.