Even though premature menopause is a well-known long-term side effect of childhood cancer treatment, I didn't expect it to come so soon, leaving me without a choice or a possibility to prepare. The sweats I jokingly labeled as "probably menopause" turned out to be just that in retrospect, but since they disappeared quickly, I didn't really give it a second thought - after all, I had no tangible plans for family and/or children yet, so what's the point of bothering about circumstances I can not change? Things turned nasty when it hit me that even if I wanted to, the idea of a classic family would be hard to achieve at best, and super expensive to borderline illegal at worst. It didn't help that Google would randomly come up with ads featuring family planning and/or happy childfree celebrities based on my search for answers - an algorhythm that was both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, if you have a dry sense of humour. What really hit me, however, was the mental effect that came with the lack of hormones, resulting in an unexplained tiredness that took over every aspect of my being, as if I have lost the momentum of my life. Being an avid crafter with an unlimited fantasy, it was devastating to see that I could't seem to come up with any idea when I was in my crafting corner, and even the most wonderful crafting supplies didn't spark any reaction at all. Fast forward to finding an amazing Ob/Gyn who managed to fix my hormonal mess, I began to feel like my old self again. I like to believe that being a scientifically thinking person helped a lot, but I certainly wish that I could get the proper treatment sooner, and easier. But then again, I was on the right track finally, just a couple of exams left to finish med school at last, which should be
easy peasy a whole ton of studying still, but manageable.
Or so I thought. Little did I know that only two months after this rather symbolic gift to myself, I would face a second cancer diagnosis, which can be another long-term side effect of childhood cancer treatment.
Being fully at peace with my situation, I intended to embrace the journey as it comes, participating in the hospital routine and the decision-making surrounding my treatment like the med student I am. Thinking I could use my knowledge to professionally discuss my case, and be involved in everything and anything, my hospital stay turned into a never-ending nightmare full of medical gaslighting and mockery. I never thought that patient handling could go from textbook-like talks pre-surgery to absolutely disregarding everything I agreed upon once I was transferred back to the ward following the procedure. I never thought it would be possible for medical staff to treat patients like shit up to the point of denying basic necessities such as food, medication, and a quiet environment to recover after major surgery, not to mention no insight in my files, no access to rehabilitation, and no consideration of my observations and concerns. I've been running things through my head ever since, thinking about whether I could have forseen and/or prevented any of this, with no avail - there's no deeper meaning I could draw from the experience, no feeling of gratitude and blessings, no newly found appreciation of life.
After an experience that shattered every aspect of trust in a patient-doctor relationship, I'm still struggling to find my identity, find the strength to get my studies done, or the courage to leave for something completely different.
As September is the golden month of childhood cancer awareness, I again took this old book from my shelf: "It's not about the bike - my journey back to life" by Lance Armstrong. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the author (and doping in sports as such), this was the book that helped me sort out many hardships during my teenage years, and ultimately made me pursue a medical degree thinking I would make a difference.
I like to think that the care for little warriors has improved in the past years, and since more and more children survive, it should be crucial for doctors to understand that some side effects of treatments may appear decades after the initial illness, making long-term follow up care an important aspect of life in those specific individuals, taking into account their complex age-specific needs. In reality, I've only met a few doctors who are ready to understand the issues I'm facing, and unfortunately, most don't even try. I'm tired of repeating my history over and over again, laying everything out, only to be dismissed and belittled. I'm tired of being told there's nothing to worry about when I know that this couldn't be furher from the truth. I'm tired of promises about how the fatigue will go away at some point, when I'm still too exhausted to function on a daily basis.
I might find my own way back to life eventually, but I'm not there yet.
I'm not sure whether I'll get myself flowers for this birthday, but I created a simple birthday card featuring different yellow flowers.
I cut the pictures from a magazine and placed them onto matching green background paper. I then placed them onto a slimline card base. In the end, I created a simple birthday sentiment using golden alphabet stickers from my stash. I used a dark yellow piece of cardboard to go with it, and added it to the left lower corner of my card.
I like the CAS look of the card even though there isn't a lot of white/unused space - the card looks very much CAS for me since it doesn't feature any embellishments (apart from the shiny sentiment). It's also CAS in terms of the colours I used, which go with the current challenge over at the Alphabet challenge blog, L for Literature (inspired by a book): yellow has been THE main colour for me for many years since I received my copy of the Armstrong book, while gold represents the golden ribbon that symbolizes September as childhood cancer awareness month. Bonus point: birthdays are usually happy occasions, which makes it possible for me to end on a positive note.
- allsorts challengeblog: ATG
- as you like it: autumn or winter (I'll prefer autumn at any time - I'm not against winter at all, but as I'm very sensitive to cold it makes me stay inside most of the time even though it has its charms. Autumn on the other hand, is one last celebration of colours and warmth, especially when there are sunny autumn days that allow me to observe the changes in nature.)
- classicdesignchallenge: ATG DT
- creative inspirations: ATG with optional twist "sentiment"
- everybody art: ATG
- lil patch of crafty friends: ATG handmade
- little red wagon: square or rectangle
- love to craft: ATG
- morgans artworld: ATG
- path of positivity: ATG
- pennys papertake: ATG paper
- unicorn challengeblog: layer it up