The decision to post this next blog was not an easy one and something I have thought long and hard about. I wasn’t going to share it, but it has played its part in who I was and who I am now. I decided to stop drinking on Monday 24th September 2018. It has now been 170 days since my last alcoholic drink. I don’t miss it at all and feel so much better for it and I certainly don’t miss the hangovers!! To be completely honest with you all I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and this was probably my main reason but there were other reasons for making my decision. My cancer was hormone positive which means that the cancer cells fed off my hormones and they grew more quickly. I am on a hormone suppressant drug for at least 5 years as a continuing treatment to further reduce the risk of its return. Alcohol can increase your hormone levels, something I didn’t know, and so it seemed crazy to be taking a treatment to suppress them and continue to keep drinking alcohol!!
I was 16, just like many of us, when I had my first cider. I was horrendously sick and it was not a particularly nice experience! It has long been a standing joke about how much the Irish tend to drink!! This is not an excuse, but alcohol was an acceptable, sociable thing to do and it was a part of my life from an early age. But it was never a concern. In hindsight my real relationship with alcohol started when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 34. After getting my results and hearing those words you never want to hear I went home and had several large glasses of white wine.
I would have a glass of wine to forget the bad, forget what I was going through, and then I would drink to celebrate, the end of a cycle of chemo, the end of radiotherapy, and then to celebrate the good, to relax or de-stress. A glass of wine in the evening became part of my daily routine and gradually over time the glasses got larger and became more frequent until it was a daily habit.
But over this last year I have come to realise that it is a very small price to pay to increase my chances of being here in 5 years, 10 years or more. I recently read an article about a similar woman who didn’t want to give up alcohol because she said if she did ‘the cancer had won’. And I get that. There are so many things out there on the big wide web that will say if you eat this, if you drink that it will increase your risk of cancer or alternatively if you don’t do this or do that you will reduce your risk. If you believed it all and took it all on board we wouldn’t eat or drink anything, wash our hair or our bodies in certain products, use talcum powder, deodorant or wear underwear bras!! The list is enormous and yes it can be scary. What do you do? Who do you believe? Will I or won’t I?
Everything you choose to do in life – whatever it may be, must be chosen because YOU want to do it, and not just because you think it is something you should do or because someone has told you to. If the decision is not your own you will always begrudge doing it or the person/people you feel you are doing it for. We all have the right to make our own decisions and YOU must live by your decisions.
I have come to a pause along this journey but it is one that will continue for a long time to come. And sometimes you may realise that you need a little help. There is never any shame in asking for help. I had the help and the support from an amazing close friend who is always there for me, but along the way I also had the help from an amazing hypnotherapist who helped me believe in myself again and helped me to take control of my ‘inner chimp’. I am making the right decisions for ME, to do everything I can to give my body the best chance. You never have to be alone along your journey’s path. You don’t have to do things all by yourself – you only need to ask.
Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.