I have been asked over and over again to write another blog. The reason I haven't written for a while is that life is slowly getting back to normal and I didn't want to bore readers with the humdrum of my life. But hey ho it seems I still have a lot to say.
At the moment my life is pretty quiet. I have decided to close down my business and go back into the world of general employment. Now, this may be a big decision and it may be the wrong one, but at the moment it is the ONLY decision I can make on my future. Nothing has come to me, no great ideas, no real need to get out into the world and set it on fire, no wonderful creative dream – career wise that I would like to fulfil. Quite frankly, I am worried as my whole life up to now has been – a real urge to do something, to research it train for it and then I have moved into that path. I have followed my career dreams and done everything I've ever wanted to do – or have I? When people ask me what do you really want to do, what is your dream? I no longer have an answer.This is my dilemma.
Meanwhile, I am taking my time and redecorating the house, not that it needs it, I have ripped down wallpaper that has not long been hung, I’ve painted walls that I are barely dry – oh and I have sold all our furniture.
I have been waxing, scrapping, painting and pasting whilst walking round in a pair of paint dribbled tracksuit bottoms ( yes me!) and no wig, it’s terribly liberating. I have even begun to open the door to people without a wig on and I watch their face’s as they wonder.
Today for example we lent a tea urn to someone who is doing a Macmillan morning this Saturday. I wasn't expecting anyone but when I opened the door to the lady's’ husband he just looked at me. I could see his think bubble, I could see him going home and telling his wife that I probably had cancer, and do you know – it didn't bother me. However going out of the house is a different matter.
Anyway, I've decided that my wardrobe will be next, so the charity shop will have a good day, as shoes, boots and dresses are on the way out. Also I have gone back to slimming world and in one week I lost 5 pounds - so hopefully what I do keep clothes-wise will fit me again. However, another dilemma -I cannot even decide how much weight I want to lose. For someone that has spent their whole life being too thin, the last few years have been a real struggle, what with the over/under active thyroid, giving up smoking, age and now cancer tablets for the next 5 years, it’s been really hard to keep my weight stable – but I am determined to get back down to a weight that I am happy with. What that is, I have no idea.
Back to my hair, it's now a mixture of brown, blonde and grey and it’s curly! I haven't known what my colour is for over thirty years and now it’s grown back grey and curly! Also, I've been told by my oncologist that I’m unable to dye it no matter what, not even with any special chemical free colours. So I've decided that I'll have it done for my birthday in November. I'll have it coloured and cut into a style that hopefully I can grow in time for next August and September, as this is when I'm going to be Matron of Honour for two of my wonderful friends. As I write this I have a little teary moment just thinking about it. Something else that I thought I would never do was to see these friends married and settled.
If you remember I wanted to go to Ibiza for our dear friends' wedding. When I last blogged I was in the middle of radiotherapy when they jetted out. So I was unable to go. However our friends that are getting married in August are getting married in Cyprus and we have already booked to go! So for both weddings I want to be slim and blonde and back to the old me – not to overshadow the beautiful brides but to just look good in their wedding photos.
I question myself every day as to what my future holds and there I draw a blank – at the moment I am living in the here and now, and it worries me. It worries me that I am in no rush to go back to work or to forecast where I will be by the time I am 50. No I am happy, I am happy just being me. Cooking for my family, god forbid - housework, and just generally pottering around. Not rushing things, not setting deadlines – all the things I lived by have now become insignificant.
Is this the new me I ask myself ? Is it wrong to just take the time to smell the roses and listen to music?
My husband is happy for me to do this, but I fear that may not last. Should I give myself a kick up the backside and get back out there? – and yet I don't want to, I am happy. Just popping up to Tesco or driving over to Bedford it feels like I'm doing everything for the first time. Being able to be free to come and go when I want and where I want is fantastic. I have spent so much time being chauffeured around, being looked after, cooked for and generally being bloody useless, that the freedom of just jumping in the car or walking round the corner is something I am loving, and having time - all this lovely time to waste and not regret a single thing. Not regretting that I could have been doing something more constructive than watching the birds in the garden or playing with the cat. Or taking my time, reading a book, cooking a new recipe.
When radiotherapy finished in July I thought I would go back to the old Wendie straight away, but unfortunately, cancer treatment does not allow for that. Even now my bones ache, and I still get tired easily. Getting up from the sofa or getting out of bed is painful – I do loosen up after a bit, but I still can’t walk miles and miles like I used to. Also I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis so no doubt this has a knock on effect.
When we were on holiday we had to climb up a big hill to get to the hotel. It was a chore, along with the hot flushes, and tiredness. But my god did we need it – the holiday that is. Unfortunately, the hotel which was meant to be 4 stars, would maybe have achieved 2 - and us being fully inclusive - the food was inedible.
So we decided as a family to sit down and make a pact that we were going to make the best of it and we did. Thank god we have teenagers and not little ones.
On the second day a rep came round to talk about trips. I was so hot with sweat dripping off me that I decided there and then that wig wearing was not an option, so in front of the rep and with some encouragement from my daughter I took off the wig and hat and carried on listening to him. He didn't even notice. However, I had to go to the ladies with my daughter, where I cried and cried no matter that he hadn't noticed - I felt exposed and raw. I knew I couldn't wear the wig, as I would have collapsed with the heat and the hot flushes. Every holiday I have ever been on I always pinned up my blonde hair in a ponytail and styled it in the evenings. So after crying most of the day on and off, we looked round and found me a trilby hat which I wore most of the time. I kept the wig for in the evenings, so I managed to style that differently instead. I still had terrible hot flushes but I managed to survive them.
Anyway in the end we went on tons of trips, swam, ate out and had a really great laugh. Only one person at the hotel asked me why I had different hair in the evening and I told him that I'd had cancer, it’s funny how that word transfer’s all over the world.
I have applied for a few jobs but admittedly a bit half hearted and the couple that I really wanted I didn't get. Through all my experience and qualifications I have decided that I do not want to work in an office, I will only work for a certain salary and I will not be bossed about. The downside of this is, I have been self employed for 3 years, and there are a lot younger, more qualified people out there that will be happy to accept less money than I want. Have I made myself unemployable? Another worry. If I stay self employed I will need to retrain – but in what area? Again no light bulb moments.
I am sure when the time is right something will come up. Again fear of turning up for an interview wearing a wig, having to explain about the cancer, will it hinder? Then if I do get the job, will the staff take me seriously walking around having hot flushes and adjusting my wig? Also at some point in the new year I will have to have some time off for a reconstruction, will this also be taken into consideration?
I still hate looking in the mirror, I think my mojo is coming back and I am gradually getting back to the old me personality wise, but looks wise I am a bigger, balder version of what I used to be. Yes I can slap on the wig and makeup and still look okay, but inside I wonder if Wendie will come back completely – whoever she is?
I have moments of sheer happiness that I am alive, and that my family have albeit at a price come through all this. Then there are the days that I think I am sick of hearing about cancer. All the stories of people that have been touched by it, all the stories of hope and optimistic cancer survivors that we see every day, it’s like when you want to buy a certain make of car, everywhere you go you see that bloody car and cancer is the same – albeit this is a poor example, it follows you. Everyone knows someone that has been touched by it. It is like a stain that will not come out.
There are undeniably brave and beautiful people out there who are battling through – some are nowhere as lucky as I have been, some will lose their lives or the lives of someone they love, but I am numb to it. I do not want to hear any more stories of people losing their lives; I do not want to watch it on television, and most of all I do not want to be labelled as a cancer survivor. I see my friends and family beginning to treat me normally now, and not look at me in that knowing way.
Things are certainly going back to normal at home too, the kids want to know what's for dinner and have I washed that top or trousers that I promised to have clean for them? They want lifts to friends and demand my attention to tell me about their day. My husband comes home to the smell of a dinner and asks if I've been shopping, is his uniform clean? All the ordinary things that I used to moan about are now a welcome return to normality. I know that cancer will never be far away from any of us, but I want to be able to get on with my life – no matter what it may bring and no matter that I haven't got a clue what it is I want from it any more. So for now I will just take my time and look forward to the next lot of twists and turns, the little bumps in the road and the smooth journeys that it will inevitably bring me.