Ellie Edna Rose-Davies, Her Story part 2……………………

‘Now, a little over a year later, as far as I’m aware, I’m cancer-free. Yet nothing will be the same again. Cancer has changed my outlook on the world regarding the people in my life, my identity and mortality. I’m sure anyone who goes through something like this experiences a level of shock, no matter what age. But as a young person barely into my 20s, cancer presented me, for the very first time, with the fragility of life and the human body.

However, I’ve gained a lot through this shift in perspective. Now I feel I am no longer a facade. All my life, I felt as if I was living outside my body, but now I’m living inside it. Looking back, I kept busy to distract myself from the internal white noise. However, after my diagnosis, I was forced to slow down and tend to that noise – to make it my companion.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since I was about 17, but when I had to face cancer, my anxiety eased. Sure, I was scared to death of dying, but that was a tactile and justified fear while, in contrast, my panic attacks were the manifestation of imagined fears. During this time I regained my sense of humour – and it was darker than ever. I began remembering what I love and what makes me me. When you’re stripped of some parts of your identity, like pieces of glass on a sandy beach, the other parts start to shine with a striking luminosity.

Other aspects of my identity, however, have been shaken, leaving a vivid, inky stain on who and what I am, without any resemblance to the image that I used to hold of beauty. I used to wish for boobs the same size, for a curvier body and thicker hair. I took for granted having any hair at all. Now I just want the body I have to be healthy. All my life, I felt as if I was living outside my body, but now I’m living inside it

Most people struggle with physical self-confidence, but, if anything, I just wish people would be grateful for their health. I’d imagine that this fresh perspective is particularly rare in someone my age. For many of us, our teens and 20s are times characterised by image-consciousness. So I’m thankful that I’ve been exposed so intimately to my internal body, and who I am at my core. I hope that I’ll approach ageing with more grace and appreciate my health over a few wrinkles or grey hairs. It’s normal to have bodily self-doubts. I’m guilty of them now, and probably always will be. However, I’ll always value my cancer-free body in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to before diagnosis.

Yet, to some degree, I feel the pressure of mortality every day. I put pressure on myself to be happy, to have a decent creative output, and to be healthy, because I know that one day it’s all going to end. Through my experience of cancer, I learned that all that matters in life is love. I experienced an overflowing fountain of it from those who supported me, and from myself when I had to face the idea of death in solitary. It was love that made it bearable and it’s only love that matters to me now.’

Ellie Edna Rose-Davies

Taken from The Guardian Newspaper

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