Sherie is 31 and has stage 3 bowel cancer. She’s sick of hearing the same thing over and over again.
Sherie is 31 and has stage 3 bowel cancer. She’s sick of hearing the same thing over and over again.

Please stop telling me to ‘keep fighting’ my cancer

I KNOW you mean well, but please stop.

To put things into a bit of perspective, and in my defence, I have been (fighting), I haven't stopped, for three and a half years.

Since my first diagnosis in 2013, I have had no choice but to fight. It's something you just do, without even thinking about it, without being told, you just do it, because you have no choice. Sure, I have moments where I think I can't do this any longer and don't want to do this any longer, but I still fight.

Even when I have looked well, when it looks on the surface like I am not struggling, let me tell you, there's still a fight going on. Cancer leaves people with long-term and often permanent side effects, which I choose to deal with and fight on my own and in private. Just because I may look OK to you, it doesn't mean the fight has stopped.

The fight has been daily, and constant, for over three long years, and will be for the rest of my life. I am allowed to be over it. I am allowed to have moments where I can admit that I simply cannot do this anymore.

I have done everything humanly possibly to beat this. I have done everything the doctors and surgeons told me to do.

I endured five weeks of daily chemo radiotherapy to stop the cancer from coming back, but it still came back.

I suffered through six months of weekly chemo infusions to stop the cancer from coming back, but it still came back.

I have now had SIX major operations in the space of three and a half years to remove tumours, to remove affected lymph nodes, to prevent further spread, but it still came back.

I have had CAT scans every six months and colonoscopies every year, to catch anything before it got worse, but it still got worse.

I am having trouble with healing post-surgery, because of tissue that was damaged during radiotherapy. Yep, something that was supposed to help me, is causing issues.

I am having ongoing infections due to sepsis, because someone stuffed up and left two dressings inside of me. Yep, someone that was supposed to help me, has caused issues.

Telling me to "keep fighting" makes it sound like I have stopped, but I haven't. I am doing the best I can in a shitty situation.

I know it's hard to know the right thing to say, so what should you say to someone with cancer?

Often a simple "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say" is enough. We don't need (or want) to hear that "everything will be OK" because you don't really know that, do you?

Continue to talk how you would normally talk, before cancer entered our lives, because I am still that same person you know and love. I crave non-cancer related conversation, and I still want to hear about your day, I still want to talk about normal everyday things.

Try and put your words more into actions. Offer home cooked meals or freshly baked goods, drop old magazines or books on my doorstep, or offer to come to an appointment with me. Your shoulder to cry on, your listening ears, your mere presence is enough. Let me be angry with the world, agree with me when I say that life is cruel and unfair.

The best thing that you can do, is to simply be present. Whether it's phone calls, text messages or visits, knowing that you are still by my side is the best thing I could ever hope for.

News Corp Australia


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