Louise Smith
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Life after treatment

Louise Smith
Posted by
06 Aug 2014

Okay, so I wrote a simplified blog about what I went through to get rid of my unwelcome visitor, which in some ways seemed easier than what was to follow. I was aware that life was going on as normal while I was ill, but not totally aware. One of my closest friends had died while I was in hospital with one of my many infections, and a few months after she died we drove past her house and I found myself in floods of tears. My youngest son had moved, so now I had empty nest syndrome. Every cough, itch, or attack of breathlessness became an "It's back" and I was getting panic attacks and anxiety. I could burst into tears anywhere. I was no longer able to do the job I had when I became ill (though my employers were fantastic). I could not understand why I should be like this as, after all, I was still alive. I should be ecstatic.

I now know that this is common for many people after treatment. My GPs were a fantastic support, and I did need medication for a while. At one stage I tried therapy, but found that it wasn't really for me (although it does help many). I needed a plan!

First of all I needed to get my independence back. I had spent over two years relying on people to go with me everywhere. I made myself deliver the Christmas cards in our small road. I was shaking when I got home. Each day I went a little further. The big one was walking to the High Street as having lost some of my hearing through treatment I felt very insecure. After doing that a couple of times it was going across the crossing, going into a shop. Little steps....

I needed something to focus on, so my daughter and I signed up for Race for Life at Cannon Hill Park in 2011. We walk round their regularly now, but then it was like climbing a mountain. Just before we set off she gave me the most wonderful news....I was going to be a Granny Smith. It certainly spurred me on, although I was near the back and needed paracetomol when I'd finished!!!

In 2012 I saw that Sir Ian Botham was going to be doing one of his Marathon walks for LLR. Okay! Daughter says we'll do it together. She strapped my 6 week old grandson to her, we got our waterproofs on, and off we set for a hike on the Clent Hills. Unfortunately we had had a spell of very wet weather, and it was very muddy in parts. Also I should have taken note of the word HILLS (although we had been for a dry run the week before!) There were many times when I wanted to give up, but if some kids could do it, it wasn't going to defeat me. I even lost my shoe in the gloop at one stage. I was so grateful for the other people walking who helped and encouraged me.

Before that I was asked by LLR if I would be able to go and speak to a small group of businesmen who were about to undertake the London -Paris bike ride, so that they had more idea of what they were raising money for.

In October 2012 I was in a garage with my son-in-law and said that if I was going to drive again then it had to be soon, and the car that would get me driving would be a Fiat 500. That afternoon I test-drove a car and bought it. I don't drive far, but I DID IT!

Since then I have gained more confidence meeting with new people in small groups, I started lip-reading sessions so that I don't become isolated, I attended the LLR legacy event in Birmingham, and I am volunteering to help at the Bikeathon.

I marvel at what some people do for fundraising. Alice Pyne left a tremendous legacy and was always determined to get the best out of her life. My ways of helping are minor in comparison. We can all do a little bit, whether it's sharing our story, buying from the LLR shop, volunteering at an event, or being in an event.

Although the beginning of this blog might have sounded grim, I wanted to share how there is life after cancer treatment, but sometimes it takes a bit a work to find the new you.

Good luck everyone

If you've recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and have yet to receive treatment you could be eligible to take part in a new clincial trial. Read more here.



Brilliant blog Louise!

I think your attitude and approach to life after treatment is fantastic and a real source of inspiration - good on you! I, too, have tried to adopt a similar approach and am mindful of the fact that I am very lucky to be here especially when there still people who don't make it (a couple of people I met during my stay in hospital also didn't make it out).

Keep doing what you're doing and thanks again for agreeing to help out at the Birmingham Bikeahton - should be a great day out.


Another motivational and inspiring post!

We hope every patient can try and adopt a similar outlook on recovery as you do.