Breast cancer lesson 158: Why I will be making room for cancer in my house – if not my life

In January, I made a mistake. I donated the dressing gown I wore in hospital when I had my hip op in 2007 to charity. I hadn’t really worn it since and, as far as I was concerned, I would probably never need it again. Frustrating then, that I had to buy a new one, just a few weeks later.

I confess I am a little superstitious. I don’t buy sunglasses in the summer months for fear of rain. I hunt for a second magpie if I only see one to avoid the sorrow and, while I do step on cracks in the pavement (this is London after all) and am a bit of a magnet for ladders, you won’t find me leaving anything to chance – particularly where cancer is concerned.

This does present me with a slight challenge. What to do with the radioactive looking shower sleeve, the PICC line cover, my favourite hairloss hat (which incidentally hasn’t been on an outing since my hair has started growing back), the bed caps and, dare I say it, Suzie, my not-so-trusty wig? Do I gift them to other people waking up to face the reality of a cancer diagnosis, to help them feel supported? Or, do I tuck them away in a small corner of the house as a bit of an insurance policy? (The logic here is that, if I’m prepared, cancer won’t dare try its luck a second time). While I would like to say the former (and certainly will be posting out a few items that didn’t get too much of a look in in my cancer story, but could be useful to others) I have to say, for those frequently used items, I will be opting for the latter route. I did not go through belt and braces cancer treatment only to jinx myself by not packing away a cap or two. Sounds strange for a rational woman to admit (I appreciate some may question this), but while I have changed a lot over these last nine months, this is not a part of myself I have chosen to reprogramme just yet.

So, that’s why I have decided to create a cancer capsule (a bit like a time capsule). In my mind, it is currently a shoe box stuffed with practical items I would never want to rebuy. But, who knows, it could turn into a pink box file or a plastic box if my creativity takes hold. The most important thing is that it is a box I can seal, hide in the cellar and bury in the back of my mind in the hope that one day I will open it again just to relive the fact that I kicked cancer into touch.

People have asked whether I am worried about the possibility of it returning. And, my answer is, right now, I’m not. I am sure my body will give me a few things to wobble about in the future that will send all the memories flooding back. But, there is a reason I haven’t been playing the numbers game and talking hard stats with my oncologist. I was a statistical anomaly in the first place, so why should I obsess about numbers, when they haven’t been reliable before? I spent one evening months ago using online prognosis tools and, given, they are so outdated and based on patients decades ago, I scared myself silly and won’t be doing that again. All I know is, I have done everything I can to remove cancer from my body, so I am not going to let it dictate my life. If it comes back, I will face if once more (don’t get me wrong, I would be pretty unimpressed). But, I am going to make the most of this little life of mine and celebrate the signs of aging (all except the menopause). I am just happy to be here.

So what will be tucked inside my capsule? In addition to the hats, I plan to pack away the information booklets and the names of the tablets that got my through. But, I also want to add the amazing cards I received (I read them all last week and can’t explain how much they made me smile) and my running medals, so that, if one day, I have to open it again with tears in my eyes, I will be reminded of both the support I had and the strength I found. I will smile once more through the dark times.

So, take this as my insurance policy post. My declaration of readiness and my commitment to making the most of my life, safe in the knowledge, there is a little piece of me waiting to be this strong again, should I ever need to be. Let’s all just hope I don’t.

If only getting real insurance was as easy!

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