Sunday 30 October 2016

Day 30 #pathways2resilience ~ Tamsin

Special Feature Edition: Pathways to Resilience: Embracing our Vulnerability, Celebrating our Resilience

Daring to Disturb the Universe…

In today's post for our month long feature #pathways2resilience, Tamsin shares how meeting Naz, Vicky and the support of women in the group led her to find the courage to submit a blog to HuffPost UK.

When Naz asked me to help with administration tasks associated with the Centre for Building Psychological Resilience in Breast Cancer in November last year, I might have said no, because, like anyone, I find there aren’t many spaces in my life, filled as it is with work, being a mum and keeping my post-cancer-body in line. But as it turns out, I’m still not very good at saying no, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing.

I’ve always been a quiet kind of girl, a stage-hand rather than an actor, so I’m still not quite sure what happened at about 3.30 p.m. on Thursday 31st March 2016 when I dared myself to try and write a blog worthy of being featured by the Huffpost UK. Earlier that month, while recovering from surgery, I had spotted a blog by the wonderful Laura Dodsworth hosted by Huffpost UK as part of a month-long project entitled ‘All Women Everywhere.’ Having thoroughly researched a number of on-line blogging guides for Naz so that she could submit a blog highlighting her work, I knew I had to come up with 700 or-so words in an opinion-led style on a topical subject.

In a mere hour, seemingly from nowhere, I wrote ‘The Gift of Fear - Or How Fear Saved My Life.’ This was followed by an agonising 30 minutes of procrastination about whether or not to send it off - Do I really want to do this, I wondered? Is it even good enough? Why would anyone be interested in anything I’ve got to say? How would I feel if the Huffpost UK were to say NO? Ironically, it was this fear which prompted me to hit the send button at around 4.55 p.m., with five minutes left before the project ended. After all, I decided, it would be too great an irony to allow fear to prevent me from daring to submit a blog about fear.

I’ve tried hard to get to a point where I see my experience of cancer as one of many chapters in the book of my life. But the truth is that when I found out I had a BRCA1 mutation, I felt like cancer was not only in the pages of the book of my life, it was in the ink and the spine. You see, every cell in my body is unable to make a protein that inhibits tumour growth of certain cancers and I’ve had a rare, aggressive breast cancer, not once, but twice. Between 2009 and 2012, I was on chemotherapy for over 9 months, had radiotherapy for 6 ½ weeks, and underwent 7 major operations, 3 of which led to me being in HDU, one during chemotherapy. At one point I was so traumatised by my experiences of surgery and post-surgery that I became afraid of sleep, suffering from terrifying lucid dreams, half conscious and unable to move. Outwardly I was positive, and many aspects of my life carried on as normal, but I just didn’t dare to feel my grief, my loss, my pain.

Looking back, I think I became mute as a result the shock of these experiences. So maybe you can understand then what it means, not only to be able to write about aspects of my experience of cancer, but to have my meagre offerings published - I feel as though I have learned to speak again.

I could never have imagined how much the course of my life would be altered by my friendships with Naz, Vicky and the women in our group. I could thank Naz and Vicky for so many things, but what I thank them, and Anita, for most, is for helping me to find the courage to be daring, to be bold and to dare to disturb the universe - just a little.

#panningforgold #pathways2resilience

#bcresiliencecentre #breastcancerawareness

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