3 months ago I stepped into a plane, nothing unusual with that really… Nothing unusual either with stepping into a plane to start a new job…what is slightly unusual, at least for most, is the country that I decided to move to…Chad…where the hell is Chad most of you will be thinking…well- before moving here I didn’t know either…
Finally 4 years after my breast cancer diagnosis, I had got to the point wher I felt that my life no longer had to be on hold…I had done a lot over the lasts 4 years, but always within the safety net of my old job, a job that I didn’t really like, but one that I was very good at…living in a city that I had gotten used to, and just as I left, had actually grown to love. Life had kinda got back to normal, no longer was I constantly fearing that my breast cancer would come back, or worse spread.
For the last 4 years I had been volunteering for CoppaFeel!, raising awareness for this amazing charity, raising awareness of breast cancer with young adults, raising money for them, by running…a lot! talking boobs at festivals and trekking the Great Wall of China…all of this gave me purpose, was an integral part of my identity, and helped me to turn this turd of situation into sparkly rainbow. I cannot put into words what this charity, and the amazing people that I have met along the way for this charity mean to me…what I can say is that without them I would not be where I am now!
So after 4 years of building myself up again, regaining my confidence, and finding myself again, I accepted a job in Chad! Bye, bye safety net, hello unknown…bye, bye CoppaFeel!, boob filled conversation, hello world in which no one, well hardly anyone, knows that I had breast cancer…
It’s weird to be in a place where no one, or rather hardly anyone, knows that I had breast cancer…it feels like part of my persona is missing…breast cancer willingly or unwillingly has become part of me- and whilst it is nice to be just Rhyan, not Rhyan the girl that was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, I am missing the part of me that was constantly trying to raise awareness of breast cancer, the part that kicked ass and ran a ridicolous amount of races, just because she wanted to show cancer who was the boss. I miss the part that had found a common bond with total strangers, because we could relate to have being diagnosed at a young age with breast cancer. And then, on top, I sometimes feel that I am not being fully honest with everyone, that I am hiding something. Hiding something out of fear that they might judge me, or think less of me. Hey, maybe they would understand me better if they knew?
Its weird to be in an environment where no one knows what happened, and no one knows that me being here, managing to be my bubbly, smily self, is actually quite an achievement, considering what I have been through. My old work colleagues knew first hand how much I had struggled through all the breast cancer malachi, and breaking up with my ex, half way through breast cancer treatment, and my subsequent stay in psychiatric hospital. My old colleagues, and my friends in Germany and the UK knew that me having a bad day was just going to happen every now and again, even 4 years post breast cancer shit! I guess what a I am trying to say is that here everyone treats my like everyone else…not knowing why I react in certain ways…not giving me leaway for the shit that I have gone through. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, because why should I be treated any differently to anyone else, particularly in a country like Chad, where nearly everyone goes through shit.
And then maybe all of this is just another part of the journey of finding myself back to a new normal, a normal now, where I get treated like a normal person. A normal, where people don’t tilt their head remembering what I went through. A normal where only those who need to know, know what I have been through. A normal where I can draw from all my experiences from the past 4 years, and use them to my advantage, without them defining me. A normal where I can still be the kick ass person I am, without people knowing why.
Breast cancer has forever changed my life, but maybe, at least for the time being, it is not going to dominate my life as much as it has for the last 4 years, and maybe, that’s a good thing. So here is to living in Chad, and saying yes to life!