Ed Garside
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Coping with life after childhood cancer

Ed Garside
Posted by
14 Jan 2018

This blog highlights some of the most difficult things to deal with when trying to live a normal life after cancer. I thought I'd share my experience of dealing with life after cancer and I hope some of my advice can be helpful to those struggling to cope with life after cancer.

A question I get asked sometimes is how I manage to live a normal life after going through childhood cancer and three years of chemotherapy. Cancer naturally has a lot of long-term affects that can affect sufferers for many years after they have successfully beaten the horrible disease. These effects can be mental and psychical, especially for those who had their childhood cruelly affected by cancer as childhood is the most important stage for growth in life.

So, I thought I'd share some of the effects I suffered as a result of childhood cancer, and also how I dealt with these effects. Many cancer survivors find the after effects to be hugely difficult to deal with so I thought this blog would be helpful for those trying to live a normal life after cancer.

Obviously, one of the most difficult things to do after going through cancer and relentless treatment is adjusting to a normal life. This was far from easy for me as I had been receiving treatment every day for three years. So to go from treatment and a certain routine to a normal life was quite difficult. Don't get me wrong, it felt amazing that I didn't have chemotherapy every single day and hospital visits every week. But when that's what you're used to for years, it can have mental and physical affects on a person. For me, it wasn't a huge problem as I had school, football, family and friends to ease me into a normal life, slowly and surely, and I was very lucky in this respect. After finishing treatment, some patients can almost feel lost and not know what to do with themselves, having been used to a certain routine of treatment for so long. The best advice I can give for this situation, is speak to the people at Bloodwise. Speak to advisers at cancer charities, because telling them how you feel will lift a weight off your shoulders and they will give you the best advice on how to live a normal life after cancer. For me, I didn't really need to speak to anyone as I had my friends and family all around me, and I cannot thank them enough, I am extremely lucky in that respect. If I needed to talk, or felt lost, I could turn to my friends and family and they'd know what to say. So I was able to ease myself gradually into a normal life after cancer. I owe pretty much everything to my friends and family as they were the biggest help when dealing with the after-effects of cancer.

Another difficult thing to deal with after cancer is the painful memories it leaves behind. I have to admit, this is one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with. Even now, almost 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer, I can still remember very clearly the worst parts of my three years of treatment. I can still feel the pain I felt all those years ago. Dealing with these painful memories is very difficult and something that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. But in order to deal with these horrible, negative memories, you have to turn them into something positive. Instead of thinking about how much pain cancer caused you, think about how you got through all that pain to get to where you are right now. When you remember the darkest of times, remember how it was you that got through them. How it was you that had the determination, the sheer fight and drive to get through the worst of times, to reach where you are now. Dealing with these painful memories all depends on your perspective and all I can say to you is, you need to adopt a positive outlook. You need to use the negative memories to create positive ones. This is something I learnt to do. To this day, I will still struggle with painful memories of my cancer experience, but then I think to myself: “Remember to turn these memories into positives. Look at where you are now! Look at how much you have accomplished! Yes you went through some really bad times but you got through it and look where you are now!”. As well as adopting a positive mind-set, also feel free to talk to family and friends. When I've thought back to the darkest times of my cancer experience, I find it difficult to get positives out of them. So, I turn to my friends and my family, and they remind me how much I've accomplished and how far I've come. I'm sure some of you are reading this now, and I cannot thank you enough. Friends and family have been the most important thing in my life after cancer, and I don't know where I'd be without them.

So, life after cancer can be extremely difficult. It can possess mental and psychical effects and sometimes it can be almost impossible to deal with. So please listen to my advice because the advice I have given here has got me to where I am today, it got me through the difficult years after cancer. I would also like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped me get to where I am today, without them I don't know where I would be so thank you so much. You know who you are, thank you. If you know anybody who is struggling with life after cancer, please show this to them, and I would also like to say this to them. I am almost eighteen years old. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was eight, and finished treatment aged eleven. Life after cancer has always been difficult and even to this day, I am still reminded of some aspects of my cancer experience. But I am now studying at sixth form and I have the opportunity to go to university next year. When I had cancer, I didn't know if university would be possible, but here I am, months away from sitting my A-levels and giving myself the opportunity to go to university. My point is, you can still live a perfectly normal and potentially amazing life after cancer. There were many times during and after cancer where I thought I would not be able to live a normal life. But here I am. So for anybody out there struggling with the after effects of cancer, please try to take my advice because it's got me to where I am today and I am happy to say I am living a normal life and I am so grateful.

Thank you for reading my blog. I truly hope it can help those who are struggling with living a normal life after cancer.

A photo of me and former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, taken in 2008 when I had cancer.
A photo of me on holiday in 2017, 9 years after being diagnosed with cancer and 5 years after finishing treatment.

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