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My Cancer Diagnosis: Am I an Impostor?

I'm not a fake, I'm a fighter and my word I'm earning my stripes. I did have cancer and hopefully I do not any more. But I did and it was real. I have nothing to feel guilty about.
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Finger frame in heart shape, selective focus
Finger frame in heart shape, selective focus

I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in late 2015.

I've written about it often on my blog, received countless messages of support and love.

But I've felt like a fraud. An impostor.

After my cancer diagnosis in November 2015 a whirlwind began.

The life I might never lead flashed before my eyes. My children growing up, growing old with my husband. Happy holidays. Family time.

Instead of that, I was going to die. I was dying.

I didn't have time for anything. It was too late.

I broke the news to my family, my friends and here. Drama ensued, tears, hugs and well wishes.

We decided we'd all fight it together, it would be a team effort. And I was going to be a champion.

A few days later I had surgery, a lumpectomy, and the cancer was removed.

It was day surgery, I arrived at 7 a.m. and was home for 7 p.m.. There was a lot of waiting around, I was put under and the surgery itself took only a couple of hours. The cancer was the size of a grape. So they just had to take out the grape, right?

I got up the next day and we drove five hours to a family party, against my surgeon's advice. I was numb and sore from the surgery but it was so important to us to be there.

I was shell-shocked from the previous few days, weary from the anaesthetic and too sore to hold my baby but I put on a 'happy smile' because it was so good to be there. I cried in pain on the 5 hour journey back home.

The next week the results came in and scans showed that, as far as could be told, it hadn't spread.

I had won. I WAS a champion. I had beaten cancer.

And it was all just a bit easy really.

I was delighted, amazed, elated, happy. And just a little bit guilty.

I felt guilty for making a bit of a fuss about nothing. I'd rocked the world of everyone who loved me only to tell them a few days later that all was ok. Nothing to see here.

Don't get me wrong, I've never felt happier in my life but I couldn't shake the fact that I felt like a fraud.

I almost felt like apologising to everyone and I wished many times that I hadn't mentioned having cancer in the first place. That I'd kept it to myself. Because I didn't have cancer any more, did I? I was an impostor. Getting attention and sympathy for something that no longer existed.

The next step was going to be chemo and radiotherapy, just to be sure to obliterate any errant cancery cells that had gone awry.

"I'm starting chemo next week!" I confidently announced to the world, rather like I was embarking on a new diet.

I had read up on how it would be administered, through a port in my chest. I was put under again to have the port installed. I cried beforehand, scared of the surgery. But it was routine day surgery and I was lucky to have the opportunity to have the port. It would bypass and save my veins from the ravaging effects of chemo. I was lucky. I felt guilty again, for making a fuss. Some people didn't get the choice.

I thought of the people in the world who actually have cancer. Proper cancer. Not the 'here today, gone tomorrow' cancer that I had.

Or those who had fought for years to defeat it. Years. True Survivors.

I wasn't a Survivor. I'd had cancer for 5 minutes. Surely you can't class that as surviving.

No sooner than I'd gotten acquainted with my bit of cancer, out it was plucked and off it went. God knows where.

I was a fraud again. Making a big fuss about nothing. An impostor.

And then came chemo and everything changed.

Despite reading up on the potential side effects, joining online forums and the vast education provided by my Oncology team, nothing could have prepared me for the harrowing toll chemo took on me from the get go.

I've kept a record of the side effects that each chemo cycle has given, the sudden and shocking changes to my body and the roller coaster of emotions.

At times I've felt like I can't go on with it, that it isn't just eradicating cancerous cells in my body but that it's actually killing me.

I've watched myself in three short months go from a vibrant, smiling, healthy woman to grey-skinned, bloated and damaged.

And I don't really feel like an impostor any more. Because now I feel like I have cancer again. And that I'm dying.

But I also feel like I'm fighting and that I'm doing everything I possibly can to stay alive. To see my children grow up. To grow old with my husband. To have happy holidays and family time.

Because it isn't too late and I have everything to fight for. And I will be a champion.

I'm not a fake, I'm a fighter and my word I'm earning my stripes.

I did have cancer and hopefully I do not any more. But I did and it was real. I have nothing to feel guilty about.

I haven't caused a fuss about nothing, I'm dealing with a very real and very hard time in my life and I'm choosing to share it with the people I love.

So, am I an impostor?

I am not. But I so desperately wish I was sometimes.

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