Hope After Cancer Kirsty's story
Kirsty (she/her) - White British
Diagnosed March 2019 / Recurrence December 2019 - Cervical Cancer - 1B2
I am capable. I am enough. I trust my body.
I received my first cancer diagnosed in March 2019. One month before I turned 32 and three months before I got married.
Surely this was too soon to test the ‘in sickness and in health vow’? Two Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) treatments followed and three month 'belt and braces' checks up followed.
Fast forward six months, a beautiful wedding, tropical honeymoon and my routine check-up revealed the devastating news that cancer had returned. That day will stay etched in my memory forever.
This time there was no avoiding major, life changing surgery. Instead of wrapping Christmas presents, I was packing my hospital bag ready for a Radical Trachelectomy and pelvic lymph node removal. Christmas and New year passed by in a blur and I finally received the results of my surgery. No further treatment was needed, I had the all clear, but why did I not feel happy?
My life for a year post-cancer felt numb. A global pandemic, paired with caring for my poorly mother in law, meant that I had not had the time (nor strength) to process what I had been through. I thought I was getting back to ‘normal’, but emotions that I packaged away started to surface at unexpected moments, such as a panic attack during the ‘Stand up to Cancer’ episode of Bakeoff! I needed to reach out and get some support.
After speaking to my Macmillan cancer nurse, I was referred to the Macmillan counselling support team. I initially put it off, thinking someone else needed it more, but I gave in and started opening up to a counsellor. The heaviness I was carrying around started to lighten and the dread that I felt most days started to turn to hope for the future.
Speaking to a counsellor through Macmillan about things that I had been bottling up and trying to shield my family from felt freeing. My counsellor helped me overcome a lot of my worries and gave me the permission I needed to start feeling hopeful about planning my future.
"Cancer has made me live in the moment much more than I did before my diagnosis, soaking in every last detail with a deeper appreciation. I am more present, absorbing every sunset and sunrise that I can!"
The next step in my post cancer journey was the Life after Cancer coaching programme.
I was anxious to join but by the end of the programme I had found the confidence needed to make some big decisions and start the next chapter of my story.
Two years on from treatment, I still have wobbles and scanxiety, I think everyone who has ever had cancer will do. But my outlook is one of optimism and hope.
Life is not how I imagined it, but I am determined to make cancer my catalyst for positive change and not define me.