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This New Year I'm giving up the phrase "why can't I do that?"

22nd Dec 2020

Angie's put 2020 in her rear-view mirror, and is focused on keeping a positive mindset and embracing the challenge of the new year.

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My blood cancer experience has been a very rocky road. I think the main thing to remember is everyone's experience is different and not to compare yourself to others.

I've spent too many years thinking, "wow, that person has been on imatinib for X years and is now running marathons and climbing mountains, so why can't I?"

The simple answer is, "because I'm not that person, I am me."

You may hear fellow cancer patients saying, "cancer is a lonely place," but I never really understood what they meant because there are people to talk to – such as with charities like Blood Cancer UK, Macmillan, and Leukaemia Care.

Since the first lockdown and moving forward, I've realised why cancer is a lonely place.

It's because everyone has a different relationship with cancer and no two people are the same, so their journeys will be different. I don't think I fully accepted my illness or restrictions due to the medication until I wrote my previous blog.

New year, new mindset

Moving forward, my thoughts are no longer going to be, "why can't I do that?" Instead, it will be, "while I can't do that, I'm no longer going to make myself feel useless when there's other things I can do.” I can't cycle for 50 minutes anymore, but I can do 20 minutes, and that's fine. I can't swim fast anymore, but I can swim slowly for 45 minutes (on a good day), and that's fine too.

During lockdown, I've started indoor cycling again and have just finished my third virtual challenge. My challenges have gone from 90 miles to 290 miles. I’ve just finished 180 miles, which I am really proud of myself for completing.

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Also, during lockdown, I started growing my own vegetables again and completed various art projects.

In 2019, I considered training to be a lifeguard at the local leisure centre. Back then, I thought there’d be no way I would have qualified because I can't swim very fast. However, in October 2019, I qualified as a level 2 swimming teacher. Soon, I'll be attending a course to qualify as a Rookie Lifeguard teacher, where I can teach lifeguard skills to teenagers.

I was extremely proud when I passed my courses to be a swimming teacher. Especially as the second course was nine straight days, from 9am to 6pm, pool and classroom based. Soon, I’ll have a lifeguard qualification of sorts to practice next year.

Looking towards Christmas…

Well, it's going to be a quiet. It will be just be me, my partner and my dog.

Throughout my journey, my gorgeous Staffordshire bull terrier, Sophie, has been there keeping me out of trouble. She lays in the bathroom while I have a shower or bath and follows me around the garden. If I need a rest, she's there with her head on my lap. Bless her, I've lost count of the amount of times she's ended up with soggy snotty fur where I've cried on her. I'd be lost without her.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to see my niece and nephews, but I know that next year we can meet up and spend time together.

That’s something I'm looking forward to.

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