Setting The Beacon alight | PERSONAL STORY

I never thought I would be writing this letter.

In 2007 I discovered I had breast cancer. There were three major surgeries over the next five years and my cancer treatment caused some difficult side effects. There were memory malfunctions, joints filled with broken glass and insomnia. I had to concentrate hard to remember what day it was and harder still on how to get through it. I worried a lot about how all this was affecting my family.

I always looked forward to reading The Beacon, except this section, which frequently gave me an inferiority complex. Sometimes I thought that if I read one more story about “how breast cancer changed me from a successful high achiever into someone even better” I might just set fire to it.

One day there was a letter from a brave woman describing how badly cancer had affected her. I thought, “Well done! That is exactly how I used to feel”.

Used to! When did that change?

Gradually, after finishing treatment, most of my previous mental and physical fitness returned. My teenage kids grew into fantastic adults. I joined a support group and a dragon boat team and made new friends. My husband has been wonderfully supportive, and my family, friends, workplace and medical team were great.

Me, I’ve always been a medium achiever, and now after eight years I’m still a medium achiever. I haven’t discovered the meaning of life or sailed the world solo, and I’ve had the same job for 30 years. On the other hand I never hit rock bottom. Now I can read about the achievements of others and feel happy for them, instead of bad about myself. Having breast cancer has not been all bad.

I never did set The Beacon alight but I never thought I would be writing to it.

Jan, VIC

Issue 72
Spring 2015