Hitting the Wall

This isn’t the post I was intending to write next. I really want this blog to be a helpful resource for people who’ve learned that they’ve got cancer and to prove that even though hearing the words “it’s cancer” can be devastating, it’s still possible to laugh your way through it. And I have laughed my way through it so far. I think, generally, I’ve stayed pretty positive, found things funny in the darkest situations and kept a smile on my face when I’ve had setback after setback and generally remained pretty chipper. Last night, though, I hit the wall.

Now if you’ve either run a marathon, or seen Run Fat Boy, Run (I know which is most likely for you charvas, apart from you Andrew and Emma, you two don’t count here) you’ll be familiar with “the wall” as the point in a race where you feel you absolutely can’t go on any longer. I’m led to believe every single muscle in your body hurts, your brain begins to tell you that you can’t carry on, and you feel physically and mentally overwhelmed by the challenge in front of you, as well as being completely exhausted by the struggle you’ve already had.

I’ve never run a marathon. Probably never will. But with surgery and half of chemotherapy behind me, but the other half of chemo, possible radiotherapy and the prospect of another surgery ahead of me, it feels like I’m in the midst of one. And last night I ran head first at full speed into the wall, then found myself in a heap at the bottom of it, sobbing, unable to move and slap bang in the middle of my own very raucous but entirely booze free pity party.

Generally, I’ve kept my shit together so far throughout this whole process. I’ve let a lot of things wash over me, I’ve rolled with the punches, I’ve kept calm and carried on – you know, all them cliches, but last night I just didn’t have the energy for it any more. I didn’t feel like I could take another step forward without throwing up or passing out or breaking down. I wanted to give up.

This whole week, I’ve been building up to a meltdown. From feeling frustrated at my renewed inability to run more than 100m, to the rage I’ve felt because of not being able to tie my hair up in a messy top knot, worrying continually about my loved ones, struggling to look in the mirror, panicking about life after cancer and trying not to let the stupid things people say to you when you’ve got cancer get to you, all while trying to maintain a relatively normal life, I’ve been a bloody pressure cooker of emotional turmoil. Holy paragraph batman, that’s just a fraction of the things I’ve felt in the last week and it’s exhausting to read let alone experience.

Though I’m halfway through chemo, and I should feel like I’m getting closer to the end of active treatment and this massive blip in my life every day, when I look at how far I’ve come since 7th July and I think about what I’ve got to do before this whole saga is over, it still feels like there’s a painfully long way to go. And what comes next? What happens after I hear those words “no evidence of disease”? How do I even begin to get back to a normal life? Do I even want a normal life? What is a normal life after cancer? There’s still so far to go, which is so exhausting to think about when I already feel like I’m running on fumes, but what happens after is terrifying too. I’ve had such a shift in perspective, it’s hard to know what life will look like. And I know, I know there’s no point in worrying about this now, but as a perpetual worrier, it’s hard not to. And it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by that too.

I never wanted this blog to be a place for me to have a pity party, especially one without booze and M&S party food (that’s what makes a party a party amirite?). Please don’t misunderstand me and think that’s what this is. It’s just part and parcel of this bloody cancer package and I want to be honest.

In true Alice fashion, I gave up on yesterday, read some Margaret Atwood (am addicted, she is my queen) and tried again. Today isn’t much different. I don’t think tomorrow will be much different either, and maybe not the next day. My worries about the future and about risks of reoccurrence will remain. I’ll still be anxious about what life will be like after cancer and I’ll still have no clue what to make for dinner because I just can’t face cooking or washing up or even thinking about what I could eat. But I know that this dark weather will pass in favour of sunshine and I’ll feel totally fine again, but for now, uncharacteristically, I just needed to be 100% honest and  put my hands up and say “actually, I’m not doing so well.” And that’s alright.

PS: I know I’ve banged on about finding the funny side of living with cancer at 26. I’ma find you something to have a good old chuckle about soon. Maybe I’ll write an ode to peas – the only thing I really want to eat after chemo or a heartfelt plea to my appetite and joy de food to return soon. Perhaps I’ll formally introduce you to my prosthetic breast Gladys (she’s a crowd pleaser, I’ll tell you). Either way, forgive me for the somewhat blue tone my last couple of blogs have taken. There’s still a LOT of joy in my life, including a flying Spongebob Squarepants, but I just needed some space for this crapola too.

PPS: Sorry this is an essay.


14 thoughts on “Hitting the Wall

  1. Brit says:

    You are very strong but trust me from my own experience, being diagnosed with cancer makes your life kind of a rollcoaster ride. I think it’s very brave to share the downs with the public, I couldn’t do that. Wishing you all the best, Brit.

  2. Tom says:

    I read this via a mutual friend. Although you don’t know me sometimes it’s nice to hear the words of a stranger. So I’ll leave you with this which I live by:

    ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’.


  3. Mark Wardley says:

    I’m 46 my wife passed away ovation cancer my girls 6 8 life is shit when you are going through chemo up days better days good will always taste crap life has to go on my thoughts are with you my kids keep me going X

  4. alison says:

    I remember that wall. You will het through it, you really really will, because time never stops still. Best help for me came from Macmillan – they provide free therapy, counselling, massages, beauty advice (love that last one – talk about new life skill!). It is important to make time for yourself, to give yourself space, to talk to someone un-involved, someone you don’t need to be brave for. Go to MacMillan, they are amazing. Truly.
    Best wishes, Alison, 18months clear after stage 4 triple neg.

    • alicemaypurkiss says:

      Thank you Alison. I thought I was completely alone in hitting the wall but I’ve found out it’s actually a thing. made me feel less alone and less like a snotty maniac ha! Always lovely to hear the story of a survivor too. Hope your cancer story remains a past chapter xx

  5. Kate says:

    Oh Alice. It’s Xmas day and I’ve just read this.
    As if it’s not bad enough having shit happen, it’s also having to get up and face it and think about it every single day and there’s no break, no holiday, no getting off. And no damn finish date. Some days the exhaustion just wears you down.
    Keep on getting up in the morning, smile at the little happy things, the moments of forgetting, don’t look too far ahead when you’re feeling extra fragile- sometimes just the end of the day is far enough.
    Much love and happy Christmas X

    • alicemaypurkiss says:

      Thank you lovely. I think it really was just exhaustion. The sunshine is out again now (most days ;)) and you’re right, sometimes just getting to the end of the day is enough. Much love back at you. Hope your christmas was dreamy and you have lots of exciting things planned for 2016! xx

  6. Bea (@myauntagatha on Instagram ) says:

    Thank you for your brilliant blog and especially for this post.I had my diagnosis a day before my birthday (great timing , right ) last year (2015) and spent the last 9 months up to now with chemo , then operation and now chemo injections for a year and regular visits to get my new breast made into the same size as the one that remained and was cancer free.Even now when I have the occasional week all taken up with every day booked up with hospital and medical appointments I hit a -small- wall.So I try to live each day in the moment ,and just as you say in your blog , I am grateful for so many small things that I never appreciated before.Thus morning’s sunshine.My eyebrows that are growing back.I wish I could say a few wise things here but you yourself have already been very wise in your blog.Enjoy every moment.You are doing a great thing with your blog.A big hug ( if you are into that sort of thing,!! ).

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