‘When you have cancer, it’s like you’re auditioning for the part of yourself and you’ve forgotten all the words.’
When you think of cancer recovery, chances are you think of someone bouncing back into great shape and health. After all, you’d assume that the worst would be over.
But surviving doesn’t always mean living well.
This is something that Adam Golder knows all too well. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015, the 25-year-old says his body and mind were completely devastated by the treatment.
‘In three weeks, I had aged 60 years,’ Adam old Metro.co.uk. ‘There wasn’t one part of me that wasn’t worse off than before.
‘I found the infamous “chemo-brain” the most disconcerting. I’d already felt what it was like to be physically weak or immobile but this was altogether worse.
‘It felt like I had become a burden to family and friends and as if I wasn’t an active participant anymore. It felt like I was the sick man of my friendship group.’
Adam remembers the physical aspect of recovery as just as traumatic as the mental effects.
‘Skinny, pale skinned and hairless,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t long before that was all I saw. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t affected.
‘I had fallen asleep a healthy man and it was as if I had woken up in the body of a different person I didn’t recognise.’
Adam isn’t alone. A recent report from Macmillan, Am I Meant To Be Okay Now? Stories of Life After Treatment, found that the health and social care system fails to support many recovering cancer patients with the ‘significant physical and emotional trauma’ the illness leaves behind. It warned that many people felt like they had ‘fallen off a cliff and don’t know what to expect or where to turn to for help’.
The report found that over 80% of cancer patients who reported physical difficulties in the two years after treatment said they lacked full support to get their lives back on track.