Cancer Survivors Summit

I had the most profound experience over the past weekend. I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Cancer Survivors Summit that was held at His People Church in N1 City in Cape Town. It was absolutely amazing and completely relevant and much much needed. I applaud the amazing Linda Greef from Cancercare and People Living with Cancer for this significant milestone.

It was the first time I was basically surrounded by so many Cancer Patients / Survivors at any given time. I must admit that I felt euphoric and overwhelmed because I never thought that such an event would ever happen here in South Africa. Throughout my cancer journey I really struggled with loneliness and searched and scoured the internet looking for events like this anywhere on our continent of Africa – and there was none! I feel that the more events there are like this, the less people will agonize about their health. It provides hope and positive support that is much needed to help patients and survivors cope with their circumstances.

I had the pleasure of meeting Conn Bertish from Cancer Dojo (and even got a hug) who is designing an app to help cancer patients deal with their emotions by using creativity. As a cancer survivor himself, he believes in a science called psychoneuroimmunology, which basically states that your state of mind can determine your health and help with your healing. So you speak to your cancer, and imagine it, you play with it, you laugh at it and in turn you feel positive and your immune system functions better and helps your body fight your cancer. Amazing! His project is exciting and innovative. I can’t wait for his app to be launched and wish him the very best with his venture!

The only part of the event I did not enjoy was the Doctors who presented in the opening talks. From a cancer patients perspective I felt their cold and clinical medical jargon a bit condescending and sometimes a bit self-indulgent… I don’t care to hear about how I am at higher risk of getting a secondary cancer just because I have survived a primary cancer… I also don’t care much to hear that alternative or natural supplementation is nothing but a hoax… I feel that these speakers dampened the lively spirit and intention of the event… which primarily was to foster hope and provide support!

On a lighter note I left the event feeling relieved and hopeful and invigorated, but mostly I am inspired! Thank You I am so grateful for this experience!

I have come to this conclusion: When you face your own mortality, one of two things happen… You either get so scared that you STOP living OR you find SUCH purpose that you START LIVING!

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Surviving You

I started counting days. Counting the days since I have last spoken to you…

I am on day 56… FIFTY SIX DAYS – don’t know how I got this far without you telling me to ‘believe in yourself’ or laughing at me ‘jy’s bos befok’! I miss you telling me to be less critical of myself and to just ‘maak liefde’…

Last night there was a screening of ‘Through the Eyes’. All those memories just came flooding in. I heard the opening sequence and for just a moment I thought to myself ‘You can do this’… Then your voice was projected through the speakers. Oh my…

That film was the one that cemented so many things between us. We fought, we laughed, we cried, we respected and believed in each other. Our lifelong friendship, camaraderie and mentorship became visible. Always cheering each other on loudly and boisterously. We were never shy of sharing – everything…

Always sharing… ideas, hopes and dreams – flaws, faults and regrets. We criticised and openly laughed at each other endlessly.

Aaah… the memories enshroud me and my mind has become lost and confused in a treacherous ocean clouded with misty dreams. Some days I am able to find a boulder to cling to, to provide some relief and sanity. Other days the storm rips me away and I literally drown at sea…

But that’s okay because I have made peace with the fact that you were and are still part of my soul. I have not stopped thinking about you. How can I?

I am slowly learning to live without you… even though I want the world to come to a screeching stop!

My head still sometimes screams, yells, begs: Nooooooooooo!!!

I try to forgive people who say stupid shit to me because they don’t know what else to say. Because it hurts too much to say the truth… that this is so fucking terrible… and they look at me vacantly whilst wondering quietly ‘I don’t know how she will survive this…’

I still fall completely and utterly apart and question everything and then wait for answers that never come. I go for long meditative walks and annihilating long runs where the rhythmic pounding forces me to remember that I am still part of this world…

And sometimes I scream of frustration, for leaving me behind…

I apologize for my rage…

I Forgive Myself.

For being alive. For not saving you.

I keep forgiving myself, over and over and over again.

I want to wish this all away as if it were nothing but a bad dream. I want to build something strong and beautiful instead of being this person struggling to stay afloat and barely breathing whilst crossing an endless ocean. I want to rather swim the tides and find my lifeboat so that I can get to the other side and whisper that ‘I miss you’ into the cool breeze… and then scream ‘I love you’ as the rain beats down on me.