It is estimated that two and a half million people in the UK are living with cancer. With more than one thousand people diagnosed every day. Almost everyone will know someone who has been affected. I met the beautiful and inspirational Ruth at the Premier Digital Awards where she picked up an award for ‘Young Blogger Of The Year’. Ruth started blogging at the age of nineteen after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. It is such a privilege to interview her for todays blog. You’re going to love her…
LJ: Ruth, can you tell the readers what inspired you to start writing your blog The Mustard Seed?
RC: I started blogging when I was nineteen back in 2011after being diagnosed with cancer. It was a difficult time because I’d only just started university a few months earlier. It was really hard to say goodbye to my new friends and come to terms with the fact that I was ill. The blog was a way to let keep everyone updated on my progress and let everyone know what I was going through, whilst trying to remain positive and upbeat.
LJ: How did you stay emotionally well throughout such adversity?
RC: I would have a two week break between each chemotherapy and I knew that the first few days afterwards I would feel rotten. However, I took advantage of the second week and spent time with my friends and I got taken out for a meal as a treat to recognise I had accomplished another lot of chemo. That was really important – it was a sense of achievement and I had something to look forward to.
My top tips for anyone going through adversity are:
1) Make sure you have friends around you to keep you smiling. Be honest and open with them about how you are feeling.
2) Set yourself realistic goals to help you get through, and reward yourself when you reach those goals.
3) Take time for yourself to reflect. It may be hard to spend time thinking about the difficulties you face, but it is important for your well-being to recharge and not be going one hundred miles an hour like everyone else.
LJ: You’ve had the all clear, how did it feel to be told that you were cancer free?
RC: I started chemotherapy in February 2011 and finished in July 2011 and I was back starting university in the September! It was great to be back at university so quickly and to be well. However, it was hard seeing how all of my friends were a year ahead and I had to start all over again. It took what felt like forever for my hair to grow back, so that was quite difficult. I battled with the insecurity surrounding that.
I had to have a scan three months later in the December as part of a routine check. Although I felt fine about it, my body experienced incredible pain a few days before it which saw me admitted to hospital for the day. The doctors couldn’t see anything wrong but the likelihood was that it was anxiety. Scans were always a testing time for me because the ‘what if it comes back’ was on my mind.
Nowadays I don’t really think too much about my cancer experience, although there are times when I worry and I find myself thinking ‘what if it’s come back?’ It is a significant trauma to go through and in that sense I think it’s normal for those kind of questions to come to the surface again.
LJ: If someone reading this is suffering from cancer, or they have a loved one who is suffering, what words of comfort and hope can you bring?
RC: Keep going. Keep loving. Keep resting. It’s important to do all you can to look after yourself whether that is offloading to a friend, taking a walk or doing something else that you enjoy. Whatever you or your loved one is going through, love them, have fun with them, cry with them and take time to find beautiful moments together as you go on this difficult journey, even in the brokenness. For me, having a couple of special friends by my side as well as family and a great support network who loved me, really kept me going. I would also prescribe rest too because it’s such an emotional time and in order to keep going, there needs to be time to pause and simply be still.
LJ: What is your life mantra now? How has cancer changed you?
RC: Cancer showed me that it does not discriminate. I worked for a year in the oncology department at a hospital and saw many, many more experiences of individuals fighting the disease which opened my eyes to a whole new level of suffering. However, every person that I met was never really alone. As I looked at the faces in the waiting room, I couldn’t help but feel that we are all in this together. Suffering really brings out the humanity in all of us. We all have to face the battle head on, yet there is always someone who will be there to help you through whether that is a healthcare professional, a neighbour, a family member or a close friend.
In life, there is suffering in many forms but we were never meant to fight the battle alone. We are all in this together and for me as a Christian, I believe that we are never alone because God is with us through everything.
LJ: How can people connect with you further?
RC: You can read more from me at my blog The Mustard Seed which can be found here: www.ruthclemence.com
Massive thanks to you Ruth for sharing your story. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.
If you or anyone you know is currently affected by cancer why not have a look here:
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