Stayin’ Alive

It was a very emotional homecoming yesterday – being able to physically hug Trend and the children and Bonzo was better than I could have imagined.  I didn’t realise until I got home just how hard this last op and particularly the last week has been psychologically.  The op was a partial success – they managed to fully remove the tumour under my stoma that was protruding from my abdomen and they have repaired the abdominal wall with mesh which will take a few months to fully bed down.    The other tumour, however, in my lower left pelvis, could only be partially removed.  Any further removal would have impacted my bladder and bowel and would have had a significant impact on my quality of life/ability to function.  As a result, I still have some of the uncomfortable symptoms that I went in with, and I have a very swollen left leg due to tumours near the lymph nodes.  It’s slowly coming down and I think with physio and gentle exercise it will eventually return to normal.

Despite these things, I’m physically much stronger than I was after the last op.  I haven’t lost any weight and my surgeon continues to be impressed with my ability to heal and to bounce back.  I also haven’t needed as much pain relief as I did with the previous ops. 

Mentally, however, I think I’m a bit traumatised by the whole thing.  It’s hard to explain, but part of it is of course the fact that I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks without Trend by my side every day as with the previous surgeries.  The other part is knowing that this op was a temporary fix and that we have no idea how fast it will grow again – hopefully, we are talking about years, but we just don’t know.  What we do know is that the next round is likely going to be harder, so I do need to build up my health and fitness and mental resilience again.   The cliché of it being a marathon and not a sprint couldn’t be more true in this case, so I’m going to be very disciplined about building in sufficient recovery time to the ‘training plan’.

I’m also conscious that I don’t just write this blog for me but for others who are also going through cancer or other serious illnesses, so I think it’s important to talk about appearances versus reality.  I am a very glass half full person, I go through life convinced that smiling and putting on a brave face will make things better, and I hate being weak or feeling vulnerable.  As a result, I regularly have people say to me that they were surprised to hear I was unwell as I ‘looked great’ or that they assumed that I had been ‘cured’ or am in ‘remission’.  The reality is that this disease is not going away and that no matter how great I may appear on the outside, and no matter how cheerful my disposition, I’m often struggling on the inside – I just hate to show it.

Finally, as I like to end these blogs on a positive note, I want to pay a huge tribute to the wonderful staff at the Hampshire Clinic who have looked after me so well over the past couple of weeks.  I can’t say enough about the surgeons who operated on me so skilfully (they spent 5 hours just untangling my organs before they could start the procedure), the anaesthetist who kept me pain-free, and the others who all worked on the surgery.  However, I am in awe of all of the nursing staff who looked after me 24/7 with such kindness, care and empathy.  They bathed me and washed my hair when I was unable to do it for myself, held my hands when I took my first shaky steps from the bed to the chair, cleaned me up when I was sick, were so very very gentle in removing the tubes and drains and cannulas and also in taking endless amounts of blood, and they made me smile when I was in floods of tears.  It wouldn’t be right to say that I was in hospital all on my own for those two weeks – I wasn’t.  I had a group of amazing people looking after me and I am so very grateful to each and every one of them. 

23 thoughts on “Stayin’ Alive

  1. What an intense and important post, Brenda, thank you. It must be so very hard to find the balance between recognising reality, with all its uncertainty, and coping with it, and living life to its very fullest in the way you’ve done ever since I met you. You are, in all senses of the word, awesome.

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  2. Gorgeous photo and so pleased the sunshine is out for you Brenda. Sounds to me like you made a pretty damn fine patient for those nurses and carers in the Clinic!

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  3. Brenda, that was a very informative blog. I am sure that it was very difficult for you to write, especially having just gone through everything. You must feel greatly relieved to get it all off your mind. You are a very strong Young Lady, but you can’t be strong all of the time. Take time to relax more and enjoy one day at a time. I wish that I could be there with all of you. You, Trend, Teddy, and India are always in my thoughts and prayers. Lots of Love , Mummy xxxx

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  4. It has to be just so hard, and you do such a remarkable job of making it look so much more manageable than it must be. Just know you have a global community who loves you, is supporting you and sends virtual hugs via the universe to you and your family. One day at a time. All that is possible. And so much nicer when sitting in the sun with your kids 🙂 ❤️

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  5. Love the honesty and rawness of this post Brenda. You do always look fab and you’re always smiling but I know that this is only a small ‘show’ of the bigger picture. Baby steps my friend and know that you are in the hearts and minds of so many people who are routing for you! Big hug x

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  6. Welcome home, Brenda. You are such an inspiration – always smiling, never beaten down by what you are going through. Best wishes.

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  7. Very moving Brenda. I cried reading it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is brave and it makes so much sense that you were emotional when reunited with your beautiful family. I also appreciated the nod to your health care team and all those struggling with the Monster C. One small step at a time. Love you Bren.

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  8. Lovely photo. Blog well done. Very difficult to think of all you have been through Bren. It leaves me speechless. I love you . 💕 Mummyxxxxx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  9. Dearest Brenda, it is so good to see you home with your wonderful family and sitting in the sun. Reading your post makes me think about what Brene Brown says about how the best leaders, lead through vulnerability. I don’t think any of us is able to fully comprehend what you’re going through but we are here for you every step. You are surrounded by love. Lucinda Xxxx

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  10. Such beautiful, inspiring and touching words Brenda. Thank you so much for sharing this and letting us be there with you in some part. Would love to catch up by phone/zoom when you’re up for.
    Love to you all X

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  11. there are so many brave things in this blog as there have been in the others. However this blog you were brave enough to share that you are not so strong on the inside … so let me step forward along with all your friends in sending you energetic resilience & strength not just to recover but to keep this disease at bay so we have with us for many many years to come xxxmareena

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  12. Brenda, just like in everything you do, you always know just when to show your vulnerability authentically and in such a way that you know it will benefit others. That is so you. But I hope you will also draw on the strength, friendship and love of all those in your orbit – just as they have you for so long and so often. May the sun keep shining on you and your gorgeous family. Sending you all big hugs, Tamara

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  13. Brenda – you are truly magical. You captured so much in your post – not least that you are truly marvellous. Xxx Fiona

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  14. It’s so nice to see you with your lovely family in the sunshine. We appreciate your bravery and determination but in our hearts we sense how tough it is. Going through something like this once, is once too often. Keep going through it is unbelievably difficult. Take your time and get well. Di x

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  15. Fab to see you home Brenda and hope you are enjoying every moment of the sunshine, the family and the dog (possibly not in that order). Lots of people thinking of you XX

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  16. Brenda, you continue to be unbelievably strong in spite of the most onerous tests imaginable! We are in awe of you and your courageous struggle and can’t wait to take you sailing again! 💜💜💜 Leslie and Allan

    On Mon, Mar 29, 2021 at 4:40 PM Brenda won’t back down wrote:

    > brendawontbackdown posted: ” It was a very emotional homecoming yesterday > – being able to physically hug Trend and the children and Bonzo was better > than I could have imagined. I didn’t realise until I got home just how > hard this last op and particularly the last week has been ” >

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  17. I don’t think anyone is under any illusion as to how much strength of character it takes to keep that glass half full. Brenda we love you and you have such an impact on all who know you-a true hero. Keep blogging – you are inspiring.

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