Some of you wanted to read the full letter.....here it is. Excuse grammar etc. It was an outpouring of emotion x
My name is Tracey Gleed and I am 53 years old. I am a mother of two grown up children and work as a primary school teacher. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with Primary Peritoneal Cancer. I had never even heard of it but it is a form of Ovarian Cancer and treated in exactly the same way. I received the usual treatment of six lines of chemotherapy and major debulking surgery. My scans currently show No Evidence of Disease. My world was turned upside down and I cannot express the emotions I went through. Some of this distress was because I felt as alone because no one had heard of my form of cancer. I found a support group on line quite quickly and the marvellous, brave ladies on that site got me through my early, darkest days.
I remained in a state of distress for some weeks but several events made me turn my mind set around. My treatment plan gave me a sense of positivity. Something was being done and I held on to the belief that I was going to win this battle. Also my son got engaged announcing that ‘he wanted his mum at his wedding’; a sentence that filled me with love but sadness. He had an engagement party and I spent the whole time considering that I would not be at his wedding. The next day I realised that whilst I had spent the whole time worrying about something that may never happen I had spoilt what would have been a very happy day. From that moment on I have viewed everything differently. I live for the day and enjoy it as much as I can. Nobody at that party knows for sure that they will be at the wedding. As cheesy as it sounds, as many people say the phrase to me, but it is so true.
I do have days where I find myself harbouring on negative thoughts and I hate those days. I view my journey as a tunnel and the days that I am at the bottom of the tunnel are far worse to bear than the days that I am at the top. I’ve also realised that when I have really bad days those feelings of anxiety do not last.
I have had amazing support from family and friends and even made friends through this. I felt quite guilty accepting offers of help and trips out but accept that friends feel helpless and this is their way of coping. My children have been incredibly brave. If my mum had gone through this when I was 21, as my daughter is, I would have never have been so strong. My son refused to speak about it but when he came to see me in hospital after surgery, he could not stop crying. That was the most upsetting point for me throughout this. It is tough for loved ones and they all react differently.
I have recently returned to work teaching mornings only. I am proud that I returned only twenty six days after my last chemotherapy but I wanted to get back to a ‘normal’ life. It has been tough but definitely kept me positive. I was overwhelmed to begin with and conscious that I looked different in my wig. I was certainly taught a lesson when I rather accusingly asked one pupil why he was staring at me and was it because I looked so different. His reply was, “It’s because I’m so pleased to see you Mrs Gleed.”
I do not know if or when my disease may or will return. I have changed as a person. I do not get so stressed anymore over silly things such as the grass needs cutting. I have two holidays booked before Christmas. Having things to look forward to and making memories are the important things now.