Cancer and Me – Introduction

30th July 2015 1 By Andy Burrows

I was first diagnosed with cancer in January 2010. At the time I’d only ventured tentatively into blogging. My illness was what kickstarted my writing, as for so many people.

At first it just gave me the time to write. Then late in 2012 I was reading the blog of someone else who has the same type of cancer as I have, and I found it really helpful. It wasn’t helpful because it necessarily told me new information, or gave wise words of encouragement. It just confirmed to me that there are other people out there going through the same things, having the same worries, uncertainties and difficulties. And I thought to myself that to that point I hadn’t really spoken plainly about what happened and how I felt.

So these posts are for those who come after me having been diagnosed with cancer, who want to find someone who has been through something similar. No two people are alike, and so my thoughts and feelings will probably be different to others in the same situation. But, for what it’s worth, if these memories are helpful then I will be pleased.

When I started writing these chapters I had a bit of catching up to do, so the parts up to 2013 have the benefit of hindsight and an extended period to reflect back on. From there on it’s more like a journal, and the reflections are more like the immediate raw responses.

I’ve tried to give all the basic facts about the things that have happened to me, the steps of diagnosis and treatment, but also then reflected on the many things that have struck me as a cancer sufferer. I’ve also tried to give some detail of what’s involved in some of the things that are mysterious to those who haven’t had to go through them – things like CT scans, Hickman lines, bone marrow biopsies, endoscopies, NG tubes, etc etc. If you ever find yourself being told you need any of these things, hopefully you will find my descriptions helpful, coming from someone who has actually been through them, to go alongside the factual information you’ll be given by the hospital.

It’s not because I’m self-absorbed, or because I have a particular interest in the medical detail. I just know that I found it helpful reading the raw experiences and reflections of others. So I hope that my experiences may be a help to others. However, with an illness like cancer, which is so serious and so scary (at least initially), it is quite natural to become quite self-absorbed. Your mind can become consumed with thoughts about yourself, wondering what is happening to you, wondering how things will work out. And you get used to being asked how you are, and have to become adept at passing on what you want to pass on, and not what you don’t… which means you have to mull over what to say, review what you may have said, and think over how people have reacted. You also, in all honesty, start to like the sympathy you get.

So perhaps I have become self-absorbed, but if so, at least I’m trying to channel that for a good purpose. If you are not interested in my ramblings about myself, I won’t be offended if you don’t read on… in fact I won’t even know you haven’t read on anyway!

Please feel free to submit comments. If you’re a medical professional who wants to pick up some inaccuracies in my recollection of some of the medical procedures or terminology, please feel free to correct me. If you’re a fellow cancer patient, please let me know whether you find any of this helpful and feel free to ask questions. I’ll try to answer as best I can.