What I have learnt through my Experience with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - Cancer

Hi guys, thank you so much for such an amazing response to my last post. I couldn’t believe how kind and supportive everyone was! As I mentioned, this post is going to discuss just a few things that I took away from my experience with Cancer. No one ever wants to hear that they are facing a life-threatening illness as a teenager, or ever, and to tell your friends and family what is about to happen … that really hits you differently! But after a long journey, with many fears and a newfound gratitude for life … I have found so many positives out of a negative situation.

Just a head’s up – most of them are very cliché and you have probably heard them time and time again … at motivational talks or probably just scrolling through your Instagram.

Anyway …

1) Trust your instincts

For a very long time I can remember thinking that maybe something was “off”. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to nap, don’t get me wrong, but going into College for 2 hours and napping until my teatime … maybe wasn’t normal. Or the fact that, room temperature air couldn’t touch my skin without uncontrollably shaking … the list goes on!

You watch ‘sad’ movies and discuss with your friends “Imagine if that really happened, it must be so scary”. So, when you start to see signs that maybe you’re that person, it is really hard to believe. Therefore, if I trusted my instincts and listened to my body ... I may have found out much sooner.

2) Take every day as it comes

A lot of the time, it is easy to be completely overwhelmed … that’s normal. Life is busy.

That huge Uni assignment (that will take you months) or the next 2 weeks of back-to-back days at work may feel so overwhelming to think about. So, don’t! Even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, wake up every day with a to-do list for that one day only.

Every Friday I would spend most of the day in hospital and leave feeling so poorly for the next few days. I found that being sad every Thursday (about the following day) was such a waste of my time. Therefore, every Thursday I would wake up and make the most of it without thinking about “Chemo Friday’s” until I was in bed, at the end of the day. This really helped me, and now I use this advice when I’m trying to do a massive Uni assignment, haha! It helps to be so much more productive with your energy and time.

3) Your strength

When you hear of heart-breaking stories about what other strangers have experienced, a common thought is ‘I could never do that’. But you absolutely could.

When you have no other choice but to force yourself to push through something, your own strength will really amaze you. Lots of awful things will/have happened to amazing people, such as illnesses, losses, heartbreaks etc. Before and during them, you probably never think that you could get through it. Getting to the other side really makes you believe that you can do anything, and you feel more powerful than ever!

4) Be kind

It doesn’t take a genius to know that you should treat others with kindness – I knew this before, everyone does. However, it really hit home to me that no one has any idea what other people are going through. On the outside it can appear like someone’s life is ‘perfect’ or they have nothing to worry about, when that probably isn’t the case. Some challenges will be considered big or small, but everyone is facing their own challenge daily, and some will be struggling more than others. A “How are you?” or a smile from a stranger, at the supermarket, could really ground someone and remind them that things will be okay again.

Even if you’re the person struggling and really need some kindness shown towards you, being kind to others can boost your own happiness too.

5) Never hesitate to express your feelings

Go and tell your loved ones that you love them! You can never predict what the future holds or what is going to happen in the following months, weeks, days or minutes. So, express your love every time you feel it, every morning and every night! You can never do this enough, go and do it right now …

6) Search for the beauty in your life

Sitting in a chemotherapy ward, trying not to be sick, with a drip hanging out of your hand doesn’t sound overly glamorous or fun, I am aware haha! However, in that ward I saw some of the biggest and most genuine smiles and laughs that I have ever seen.

The feeling of opening the window on “fish and chip Friday”, because our ward was directly opposite the canteen was an unexplainable relief.

The way that my Mum, Dad, brother and Niall (my boyfriend) would just sit by me in A&E all night, so that I wasn’t on my own.

My bed was usually situated by the window and I had never previously appreciated how the sun would shine into the room or watching the flowers grow and change week by week.

The way that Niall was amazed, even after months of visiting the ward, to push all of the buttons on the bed and make me move up, down and side-to-side.

The way that every patient who came in looked so happy to be there and to catch up with each other, regardless of why they were there.

I remember waiting to get my blood taken, in the waiting room, and the nurses saying that one of the ladies was feeling a bit ‘dodgy’ but was asking for me. 10 minutes later (after recovering from her ‘pre-meds’) I saw her shuffling down the hallway, attached to a drip, smiling so wide. She sat in the waiting room with the rest of us, laughing and joking.

All these experiences made me realise that life can really pass you by. Of course, it is normal to feel sad for yourself sometimes and have ‘down days’ but even in your darkest days, don’t deny yourself to see the beauty that surrounds you – in all aspects of your life, even the unexpected ones.

These are the main things that I took away from my experience with Cancer, they are invaluable lessons that I am so grateful to have learnt at an early age.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope that you enjoyed this post and have a wonderful week!

Rach xxx

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