I don’t have any photos of me in the hospital or in a gown or anything like that. I don’t have many photos at all of me during the time of my diagnoses and surgeries. However, I have dug out a few from around my first diagnosis in 2010 and my second and third in 2018, to show in picture form what my cancer experience looked like from the outside. Brace yourself:
This has been getting some attention on Twitter – it’s a campaign to encourage people to go for cervical smears. It’s based on the statistic that 57% of women don’t want to go to their smear test because the beauty salons are closed. (I question this figure later.) And the campaign is to get people to share a photo of a cat whose fur best represents their pubic hair, in order to raise awareness.
Here’s how you can help to raise awareness: 🐱 Share an image of the cat that best reflects your undercarriage/flower/bits (technical term vulva!) current look. #⃣Use the Hashtag #myCat. 👭Tell and tag your friends to let them know. pic.twitter.com/8aHf96ynjT
Earlier this year I was invited to be on the WhyMe with Vera-Lee podcast, and the episode has just been released!
During the episode, we talk about my three cancer diagnoses, Lynch syndrome, my PhD research and my writing. Vera-Lee and I had such a great connection, and I loved our conversation. Give it a listen and let me know what you think! I’m happy to talk about any issues brought up in this episode.
If you like your books in electronic flavour, pre-order now and my guts will be spilled onto your device on the official release date of 7th February 2020!
Here’s the blurb:
“Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that makes it more likely for a person to get cancer. In other words, it’s the world’s worst loyalty programme.”
Colon cancer, uterine cancer, duodenal cancer. Colostomy bags, infertility, genetic testing. But also, joy. Also adventure. Also grit.
GUT FEELINGS spans ten years from the author’s first diagnosis to the life-changing surgeries for her second and third. Racking up a collection of medical experiences – and losing countless organs along the way – Sam Rose has stories for anyone facing the uncertainty of cancer or Lynch syndrome, to help patients and survivors feel less alone.
Despite the huge emotional burden of a cancer diagnosis, many patients and survivors are missing out on vital mental health support when coping with the illness and its aftermath.
According to a 2014 study, 54.1% of cancer survivors need help managing concerns about their cancer coming back. Another study suggested that it’s common for cancer survivors to experience some symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, avoidance, hypervigilance and negative self-perceptions. Despite this, not all cancer survivors are receiving mental health support to help them deal with a potentially life-threatening diagnosis.
As a three-time cancer survivor engaging with the online cancer community about this topic, I recently Tweeted the question:
Cancer patients and survivors, I’m curious about how much your medical team spoke to you about your emotional and mental health, particularly after treatment. How prepared were you for the emotional impact of cancer? #cancersurvivor#AYA
I was overwhelmed by the number of responses my Tweet received in just a few hours. Experiences varied, from patients not being informed at all of the mental health support available, to being given leaflets or names of resources, being referred for counselling upon request, or being provided counselling without needing to ask. The number of people that fell into the first category was concerning – though for me as a cancer survivor, unsurprising.
Morning all! I am feeling that kind of chipper I feel when a procedure I wasn’t looking forward to is over and done with, and today that procedure was as short as they come – a coronavirus test. I was apprehensive about getting it and did a little search online beforehand to try to gauge what it was going to be like, so I thought I’d write up my experience here in case it helps someone else who’s also looking and has anxiety about these things like I do.
I accidentally extended my own lockdown by fracturing my ankle so now moving off the couch to go anywhere is a hassle slightly reminiscent of recovering from cancer surgery. It hurts less than it did a week ago, though.
Hi! It’s been ages, hasn’t it, but at the same time it’s hard to tell because the world is on fire.
I’m going to be on my local radio station on Friday night, around 7.40pm on BBC Northampton, reading part of a lyric essay and talking about writing and my piece, which of course is about my usual subject.
I’ve been wanting to write something for a little while but haven’t really known what to say or where to begin. I was up half the night with trapped wind and slept in two hour blocks for maybe six hours total. After going to bed at about half eleven, I drifted off at about half one and was up every two hours either going to the loo or taking Rennies and pacing our small kitchen trying to get my wind up. When I woke up at 8.30am I decided I’d rather get up than try to have a lie in, because the wind and pacing and not sleeping reminded me of the days and weeks after surgery. So, not cool.
I read a paper talking about PTSD and cancer. Here, I fixed it. We need to hear more from people who are living with and after cancer, not those who have zero idea of what the emotional and mental fallout actually feels like.