A Letter to My Body

Dear My Body

I must admit it’s only the last twelve months I’ve actually stopped and really thought about you and what you do. It’s only taken me twenty eight years to really think about what you’re capable of. That’s not a great partnership is it, considering we’re together every second of the day.

I’ve spent the majority of my life not really liking how you look. I’ve always had an issue niggling away about you. My weight, height, pale skin, front teeth, size of my feet, boobs, tummy, bum, thighs…even my calves. For a long time I’ve neglected you and abused you. I’ve smoked, suffered hangovers,not provided enough sleep, vitamins or minerals. Sometimes I’ve overfed you, other times I’ve starved you. I’ve physically hurt you. I’ve drawn blood and I’ve caused bruises. Sometimes I’ve broken your bones.

I’ve let you rest and sit too long then other times I have dragged you to the gym or pool. You’ve probably always wondered why I could never find a happy balance. Why was it always one or the other and to the extreme? I used to read “I treat my body like a temple” and I often thought I treated you like an amusement park.

It wasn’t until you started misbehaving that I started to think about you and worry about you. Suddenly you weren’t quite working right. You were effecting how I did things. I was having to put you first. I tried to fix you. I bought books on food and attempted to only feed you the things you really needed. I went to a diet class to make sure I could record the changes and make sure I was doing things right. I cut out alcohol.

I then noticed you changed towards me. You took away my sex drive. You made me feel sick after every cigarette. You made me feel sick if I stood near anyone who was smoking or smelt slightly of them. You stopped me smoking. It was like someone turned a switch off. I didn’t have to chew gum or stick patches on me. You made the decision for me. You weren’t having anymore of it. I started needing to sit down a lot and I couldn’t get enough sleep. I was also needing the toilet a lot. I was bleeding too.

I was beginning to wonder if I’d done something awful to you. You became my main priority. I started to work less, and sleep more. I was eating properly. There was something wrong though and you were trying to tell me. I did listen, I promise. I went to the Dr and I told them everything, but sadly that time your behaviour wasn’t enough to make anyone really pay attention. OK, so the fact that I was twenty seven was also a factor.

Then you reached a point where even you’d had enough. Eventually someone listened and you were checked out.

After hearing those three words “You have cancer” I became wary of you. I didn’t really feel a part of you. I couldn’t quite understand or accept how you’d let cancer grow inside of me/us. Part of me blamed you for failing and part of me felt like the failure. My Surgeon told me it’s likely to be poor genetics or simply bad luck. I’ve read it can sometimes be due to stress. I laughed at that to start with, but then remembered the first ever symptom I had, and what had been going on at that time. Yes I was stressed. I was dealing with something no twenty seven year old should have to deal with. Did it really cause cancer? Did I do this to you? Did I let it happen? Was this revenge for not treating you like a temple? Surely I’m allowed a few more decades before deciding I’ve abused you enough? Or had you really had too much? Had I really treated you that badly?

At the start I was amazed that you’d accommodated a tumour which was 5cm long. Accommodated might not be the right word though. You let it grow and you fed it and gave it it’s own blood supply but actually it stopped you functioning didn’t it? What made you decide not all of your cells that you produce would grow successfully and healthily? Was it just meant to be? Did you have any say?

Even though I get angry with you for letting this happen I realise you were suffering too. The 24/7 pain and being physically exhausted. The bleeding. The bizarre way you functioned to try and cope with what was going on but at the same time trying to tell me something was wrong. Thank you for trying to warn me every minute of the day. You could have kept things quiet for a lot longer.

I prepared you for the fight of your life and mine, with very little notice. I was prepared to go through chemotherapy with you and just deal with it. But no, you weren’t that keen. In fact you decided to have a reaction to it, and take it out on me. You weren’t a happy bunny, huh? You were inflamed internally and at the same time being poisoned. I’m amazed you carried on at all. You put on quite a performance. You had everyone worried. You were monitored all the time and pumped full of drugs. You took it out on us both by trying to get rid of the poison inside you. You shut down on me. You allowed the poison to destroy any health I had left in me. Why couldn’t you just take it? Surely you wanted rid of this cancer too? Were you giving up early?

Radiotherapy though you didn’t mind, did you? We had a few issues along the way but actually you were brilliant. You made me proud. You took a lot of zapping, sometimes twice a day for 25 days. You took it right in the arse. Yes you needed sleep and I allowed days to be sometimes only 3 or 4 hours long because the other hours were deep sleeps. I let you have your way. I can’t even describe how proud of you I was when I went to the toilet properly for the first time in over 6 months. I knew things were working again, and you were doing OK. Perhaps you weren’t going to give up so easily?

Then the operation happened. I’d like to apologise now for not listening to the Doctors and Nurses more. I wish I’d dragged my body out of bed sooner and got you working. It would have made you a lot more comfortable in the long run. You survived the two ops though, and you healed well. We had a few issues along the way though. You weren’t keen on having a stoma eh? You were even less impressed at part of your small bowel having a kink in it. Man, you made me suffer for that one. Thank you though for kicking up a fuss and making me feel lousy for 7 weeks. Eventually they worked out what you were trying to tell everyone.

I have so much respect for how you’ve healed and what you’ve put up with. Since we’ve been home we’ve been through some pretty interesting moments. I thought at one point you’d decided to leave me housebound. I was beginning to really dislike you. Then you started to behave. Slowly but surely you were coming back to life. You were giving me energy. You were allowing me to get up and walk again. You allowed me to eat food I fancied.

Thank you for fighting cancer. For putting your foot down and making yourself known. Thank you for taking everything that was chucked at you, even the chemo, thank you for everything you put up with. Thank you for fighting so hard that the tumour was practically nothing when they operated.

Now we’re at a strange stage. I’m not sure who is boss anymore. Will you continue to fight? Will you try hard to keep cancer at bay? I know I have to look after you and listen to you. I can’t rush you. Each week I push you a little harder but I listen when I’ve done too much. I pay attention to what you like and dislike. I want to look after you and feed you what you need. I promise I will never smoke again. I will limit alcohol. When you’re ready I’ll even take you out for a run and then a swim.

One thing I do have to bring up with you though is fertility. I know you’ve had the fight of your life so far, but do you reckon there’s any chance you’d let me have the option to have children one day? It might be a lot to ask, but it’s sort of broken my heart. Maybe it’s just not meant to be, but if there’s any chance, please take it into consideration when you’re busy healing in there.

One last thing. I’m sorry for ever slagging you off. I’m sorry I didn’t like you or love you. You worked, perfectly well for many years and I should have respected that. Thank you for letting my hair grow back. Thank you for letting my skin return to a normal colour and thank you for training yourself all over again. The last time you did that was twenty eight years ago. You’ve got a good memory.

I will try my best to treat you like a temple. I will be patient with you.

Hopefully we’ll have many more years together. I’d like that.

If you need anything I’m here. If you don’t feel right, let me know. Immediately.

Lots of love

Hannah xx

p.s. sorry about all the broccoli…I read it’s good for you…

p.p.s how much water do you actually need?!

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