I’ve never been skinny or exercised excessively, but I always considered myself healthy. Throughout my adult life I’ve tried to eat reasonably healthily and to do enough exercise. I was brought up to make food from scratch and eat takeaways as a treat.In my 20’s and 30’s I went to keep fit, but hated the regimented nature of classes. Then I moved on to exercising at home and to walking. I quite like the solo nature of this kind of exercise. Still though I didn’t consider whether what I ate or did affected my health.
Interesting really, because I am a nurse and have been for nearly 40 years. Though I haven’t practiced clinically almost 20. Knowledge and memories don’t leave you, so what I consider good and ill health might be different to others.
Until I developed breast cancer at 56 no one in my family had developed anything like it at such a young age. I’ve always been mindful that my nan had a heart attack at 60 and mum a stroke at around 70. But I thought I had a while ahead of me before I needed to consider such things.
Too busy being busy to think of my health
It’s easy to forget yourself when you are busy. A job, a husband, a son, a house, parents that demand your time. For many years it felt as if I was a hamster on a wheel. Rushing from place to place. All the time trying to fit in just one more thing into my busy life.
It wasn’t until my son left for university that I stopped and took stock. By then not only had I put on weight and become unfit but I was an emotional wreck too. I was also unhappy in my relationship and drinking too much. The changes I made did cause me to review my physical health as well as everything else and I lost weight and stepped up the exercise. But in truth the health kicks were as yo yo in nature as my dieting. I was made redundant but then promptly got myself a job with more responsibility and greater stress. However I loved it. So even after ending my marriage and starting a new relationship I was still on that hamster wheel.
In hindsight finding a breast lump in summer 2018 should have sent me rushing to the doctor. But I was still on that wheel. Getting ready to move in with my partner, meant evenings and weekends of packing and throwing stuff out. Plus I was working my notice. At last I was taking a break from work. So, I didn’t do any thing about the lump until I left work. Within weeks I was in hospital having a mastectomy. It is unlikely the couple of months I left things affected the outcome. But still it was a valuable lesson in putting your physical health before everything else.
Since then I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I might lead my life differently. How to measure up what is important and what can be left. Never again would I put myself so low down the list.
The causes of breast cancer are many and varied. Mine is not genetic and was hormone dependent. So linked to the menopause. But also there can be links to being overweight, alcohol, smoking and the kind of food consumed. I don’t smoke and never have, but the others are possible. As is stress. I have a hunch that the stressors I put myself under in the preceding couple of years are part of what happened.
So it has happened. I’ve had breast cancer and now I want to make sure I am as healthy as I can be to live a long and healthy life from now. I also want a new boob. – a reconstruction. So my plan now is to lose the weight I need for that and then live healthily. Hence this blog and this meme. This is the beginning of a journey for me, rather than the end.