Updated: Nov 9, 2021
My cancer journey started back in 2008 when I was told I need to have a mastectomy. It felt surreal like it was happening to someone else and I was just a witness in the room. Up until that point, I was oblivious to what was happening inside my body. I had two young children, aged 6 and 9, who were energetic and needed me. And although I knew the importance of looking after myself, there was never enough time left over for me.
I was 47 with so many goals and ambitions and just like that I now was forced to put them on hold in order to prioritise my health. For the first time in a long while, I had to focus on myself and I had to put myself first and ask for help. It was during this time that I learned about all the different charities, which led me to discover my hidden but beautiful strengths.
I was invited to take part in several fundraising events specifically for breast cancer survivors, which opened up the doors to opportunities that I wouldn’t have previously been presented to me, if not for my illness. This included singing in a choir which was made up of around 20 breast cancer survivors from the charity Future Dreams where we performed at the Palladium in 2018, a swimwear shoot 2019 which was published in July 2020 by Woman & Home, and a podcast interview with Victoria Derbyshire. In light of living with cancer, that bonding experience allowed a sisterhood to be formed.
During my hospital appointment visits, it was clear to see that the cancer patients being treated were a mixture of young, old, a mixture of different races, nationalities and background. It made me realise that no matter who we are or where we are from we will all go through some sort of pain and need help and support. Therefore we must treat people, the way we wish to be treated no matter who they are.
My takeaway from all this is that illness is not biased and does not discriminate. Pain is the one thing that does not see colour.
By Merline Small