Positive Polly

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I've started this thread as a newly diagnosed anal cancer patient to document the positives going through this process. As I'm sure everyone is when they receive this diagnosis, I'm suffering from high levels of anxiety and am wanting to document the positive elements of the process to help me practice gratitude which I know can be hard in this situation. 

Firstly my tale. I am 35 years old. I've been suffering for around 15 months with what I thought were the symptoms of hemmheroids.  The first symptom was a feeling of dragging in my back passage which then progressed to chronic pain when using the toilet. I saw my gp who diagnosed hemmheroids and prescribed suppositories which initially seemed to help a little but didn't solve the problem. After a number of months of putting up with it I had what i can only describe as a traumatic toilet experience. Toilet issues are not unusual for me but this one was particularly bad. I returned to the gp and basically had a tantrum as it was too painful to let her examine me. Luckily, she referred me on the NHS to a private colorectal surgeon who examined me externally and said that I had anal skin tags and he planned a surgery to remove. I had the surgery on 26th September 2023 and he told me immediately afterwards that they were sending the growth off for testing as it looked suspicious. I knew at that point it was cancer. One week later the diagnosis was official and that started the roller coaster that has been the last month.

Positives are:

1. I know someone else who has had this cancer and they have been a source of support, guidance and comfort to me. I know that this person will become a good friend and I will be eternally grateful for their existence.

2. Almost every professional I have worked with since my diagnosis have been incredible, professional and reassuring.

3. My friends and family have literally dropped everything to take care of me. I've never had so many messages and visitors with support.

4. The Christie. This needs no explanation. Like Belinda Carlisle said, if heaven were a place on earth then the angels would live there.

5. The macmillan hotline for when I'm at panic boiling point.

6. This thread which makes you remember that you aren't alone. 

If you are reading this because you have recently been diagnosed, I'm not an expert yet on the treatment and side effects. But I am an expert in knowing that life is worth living and know that I, and you, will do whatever it takes to keep mine on track. I almost said get it back on track. But that isn't quite right. I've had a shocker of a month. I can't lie. But I won't stop finding joy in the little things and focusing on my recovery from this blip.

Some things to be prepared for, because I wasn't. My first meeting with my oncologist at the Christie was a lot. Nothing anyone says will prepare you for it. They didn't even say much that I didn't know already but I was a mess. And it's OK that I was a mess on that day. My friend said on the day, "something amazing has happened today. You've got through your first appointment and you will never have to do that again."

Don't read the leaflets about cancer if you can help it. They only describe the medical facts and they caused me to question too much about my own body. Throw them away. Speak to your team.

Some people in your life won't know how to react and that will make you feel bad. Don't blame them. It's not their fault. They don't know what to say.

I've got my radiotherapy planning scan on Tuesday so looking forward to coming back next week with some more positives to share from the process to help me get through the hard bits. Other milestones next week include a meeting at a reproductive clinic to consider whether freezing my eggs might be an option for me and a hypnotherapy consultation which I'm lucky enough to be able to pay for to support my ever spiraling thoughts.

See you soon for the next installment.

Our courage is always stronger than our fear.

Lots of love and admiration for anyone going through this.

  • Hi there and just wanted to say what a hugely positive post you have made!  On behalf of all who go through this it is awesome!  And a warm welcome. It is so hard to see positives when you go through it so I applaud you and wish you the very best of luck.  I am now 6 months on the other side and it is life changing in finding reserves of strength you never knew you had and it certainly changes your life view. Good luck xx

  • Wow.

    Just.....wow.

    All the hearts

    Suz

  • I absolutely love this post  , I understand that each of us is different & we approach things differently but a positive mindset & approach when facing something like this will benefit you beyond words. As  has said even if that’s quietly celebrating your strength on getting through each day of treatment.

    I’m a little over 5 years out of treatment but remember so well I would get up each day of treatment, have a shower, do my hair, put a bit of make up on & choose my clothes like I was going to lunch with my friends. Putting in this bit of effort kept my spirits up which is so important, I had a fabulous radiotherapy team of about 5/6 different ladies of which there would be a combination of 3 at each appointment & they were always up for a giggle, my dad came to each appointment with me & always commented that we were always laughing when I came out. I baked them some fancy cupcakes for my last session to show my appreciation for helping me stay so positive throughout. 

    If you feel you’re able then please keep adding to this post it will be cathartic for you & im sure it will help others facing a similar situation immensely. 

    Wishing you lots of luck for all of your appointments next week, you sound amazingly proactive in your self care, in my opinion mindfulness in any form is pretty underrated so I hope the hypnotherapy helps. I'm looking forward to reading your next instalment. 

    Nicola 

  • I really can’t say much more in reply to this wonderful post that hasn’t already been said but wish you a very warm welcome to our club! I to look forward to your next instalment 

  • Feather 653

    Your positive post was absolutely wonderful to wake up to!  I am really looking forward to reading the next one, and don't ever forget we are all here to support you too; we all have our vulnerable times in this process.

    Irene xxx

    One thing I would add to your amazing post - DON"T GOOGLE!!!

  • Thank you for your Positive Polly post it was wonderful to read and will be such a big help to those who are starting their journey.  Good luck with your appointments this week looking forward to your next instalment. 

    Carole x