A Survivor – Twice!

A poem by Carol

It’s 2019 and life is good.


Going to the Breast Unit, I was quite blasé-

This was going to be just another day

When what I’d felt would be checked;

I’d go away, once more relieved, and life happily not wrecked.

Oh no! Not this time, the mammogram said –

You’re on your way to a cancer bed!

A VAB the next day was ordered

And I stood in the room, feeling scarily cornered.

I had no idea the chalk deposits were there,

Nestling in the ducts of my right breast, bare.

So it may not have been the worst-case scenario

But it made my Christmas far from calm!

We waited and waited then saw my Consultant who,

So honest and true,

Arranged a lumpectomy for January 23rd.

The operation took place and an overnight stay

Saw me happily go home on a high the next day!

The cancer had gone – I was cancer free

With luckily no further treatment needed for me.

I had to re-think; I’d faced cancer and won.

I now picked up my life over the next 5 months.

My confidence grew and the experience changed me –

More compassionate and kind, maybe.

Remember, I said I’m “a survivor – twice”?

The path of the first had served its purpose

As 2020 ended with a much harder curse.

Bleeding and scared one November day

I was sent to a clinic, for another survey.

This time, much deeper in the most secret of places,

Cancer lurked once more to compete in its races!

This monster was frightening and totally invisible,

Tucked into my womb, there for the foreseeable.

With COVID still raging, all appointments attended

Meant I was all alone and unbefriended.

My family and friends were with me in spirit

But I was the one who first heard the hit –

You have cancer, it’s aggressive

And the tumour’s quite massive!

It had to come out, radically so,

On January 25th – almost a year to the day

I had a hysterectomy following my lumpectomy.

The Consultant’s thoughts were not encouraging-

There was further treatment, without doubt, to add to the scourging

Made by the scalpels, the gas and the stitches!

Home after a week as an inpatient scared.

I most certainly was not prepared

For the recovery so slow and the mental anguish

That this second cancer had chosen to dish.

Trapped physically first with do’s and don’ts –

That was the easy bit, as I now look back.

Brachytherapy came and went;

Dignity there is what took the dent!

Next the dilating 3 times a week:

A plastic sex toy – eek!

Seriously, though, that is a constant reminder

Of the disease that caught me and dealt me a blinder.

The lasting scars of fatigue and dilation

Mixed with confusion and poor concentration

Are far worse than the little breast scar – It’s not fair;

And yet, complain? I don’t dare

Since many suffer more with breast cancer, too,

But you can only consider how this disease affects you.

Six months on and clear once again,

I still struggle to see where life’s taking me, hence

My habit has to be each day at a time

If I hope to come through with a life I call mine.

Support from CNS and dear Maggie’s all help,

Plus, family and friends who put up with my yelps

Of frustration, real fear of recurrence inside

As I come to terms with cancer which gave me a ride

Like no roller coaster could ever do.

I didn’t deserve this, I’ve lived a good life

Why did I encounter this terrible strife?

There’s no answer to this, so no point in asking,

Just turn to the present and see how it’s passing.

If I lose time in wondering and looking for answers,

I’ll end up neurotic, and for that there’s no plasters.

This poem is written without form or structure;

It just goes to show how my life has been ruptured.

Yet, not just mine, but my family’s too – Something you

Don’t realise when the illness is in you.

But come through it a bit and the shock awaits

As you realise their grief does not easily abate.

I’ve crossed mental boulders and got to crossroads

Yet still I’m looking to ease the load.

May this Autumn, wracked with nerves it will be

Because I so want to start ’22 cancer free,

Will set me on course to live a new life I love

Including a grandchild – a gift from Above.

All in all I’m lucky, life experience has given me

Another facet to absorb and make me feel free

To live for a future which might not be the same

As the past which was happy, but it could be a gain

As I’ll have time to ponder and follow desire

Which will be a blessing as I come through this mire.

A survivor I am – I can say it today

(Tomorrow may be a less positive day)

Yet ultimately

This recovery

Is up to me

To let it be

A time of enjoyment and sensitivity,

A chance to show others some positivity, because …….


“A survivor – Twice!”