The inspirational Miranda King is chatting to us about her unwanted birthday present, and how she navigated through a sudden cancer diagnosis at 30...
I remember crying the day I got the news. I received a call from my local medical clinic saying they had the results and I cycled frantically from work. I then walked home in tears and needed to call my fiance at work, struggling to get the words out. I then called my mum, it must have been around 2AM back in the UK and she was so strong- I inherited my strength from her. I waited a few more days before telling other family members because it was just too hard to break the news and handle their reactions whilst I was still processing it myself.
When I met my Oncologist, I started smiling… trying to play it down, brush it off but FUCK! I had cancer… this wasn’t in the plan. Boy do I now know what it feels like to have plans derailed. This year was about starting to plan my wedding, travel back to the UK on holiday, working out my finances so I could start saving for a house.
" FUCK, I had cancer, this wasn't the plan"
September 26: Fertility was pulled into question as chemo can damage your ovaries. Children weren’t even on my mind at this point in my life but I also didn’t expect to have the option taken away from me. I had 48 hours to decide if I wanted to start IVF or go straight in to start chemo. I was lucky enough to have family support which gave me the financial opportunity to go through IVF. I am still extremely thankful for this and think about our potential mini-me’s often.
September 28: My first day of Chemotherapy. I believe I was in denial for the first few months of my treatment. The only thing I allowed to change was that I chose to stop working so that I may concentrate on fighting this shitty disease. The days directly after a chemo session were spent on the sofa, unable to eat for 3 of them and Netflix became a great support. Once I started to feel better and before my next chemo session, I would still meet up with friends and even went once on a little holiday with my in-laws to Vancouver Island. This was such a wonderful time of joy for me, it gave me the chance to leave my home bubble for a spell and forget what was going on. My hair started falling out during that trip but I didn’t let it ruin the time.
October 22: We shaved my hair off. I had this whole idea to shave it off whilst friends watched, a make-up artist made me look like a warrior princess and a photographer took photos. In the end, I was in my tiny bathroom with one of my best friends and my mother-in-law whilst Finn did the shaving. We all ended up crying a lot in there. I did still have friends come over that evening and they still made me feel so amazing when I felt at one of my lowest points.
January 17: My last chemo appointment! By no means was the journey over but a really shitty and difficult part was. I don’t remember much from that day but I do remember feelings and some words. I had one of my best friends come with me to the appointment and we were both just smiling and laughing after the appointment. A nurse in the elevator smiled at us and said ‘This must be your last appointment, congratulations!’ and it was so nice of her to say so. It was a big deal!
I was starting to realise that the only reason I was still in a good place was because of the people I was surrounded by. I got told how inspiring and how strong I was for sharing and simply going through this journey with such a positive attitude and I think it was only because I was extremely lucky to have a supportive social network. I was having well wishes from across the World and that came from the bravery of sharing my story.
However, I did also realise that I had started to find difficulty in relating to my peers and I felt the need to censor some of the things I would say. I didn’t want to burden my network with the heavy shit and I know… I do know… they wouldn’t have minded if I had. However, I also knew they were still invincible 30ish year olds who aren’t meant to be touched by something as sinister as Cancer and I wanted them to keep seeing life as they did. As a result, I decided to do some research and find people who were going through this too.
" I am utterly defeated, yet empowered"
March 12: Following surgery, I landed in Ontario for a Retreat. I am so thankful to have found a few organisations who I have made valuable connections with and one I would like to mention is Young Adults Cancer Canada (YACC). I attended a retreat with them in March where I stayed in a retreat centre in the middle of nowhere with 27 other young adults who are also living with cancer in some way. I got to share the real shit with them and felt so validated, enlightened and instantly accepted. It was then that I actually accepted that I had cancer, I had joined the best club that no one wants to join. I already know I have made strong friendships just from these 4 days.
May 7: My last radiation treatment. I had left the cancer centre feeling overwhelmed whilst also feeling numb and being in the weird time of Covid, I felt I couldn’t celebrate in a big fashion. I was so wrong! My journey home was filled with friends lining the streets with signs and gifts! I can’t say it enough but connection is my biggest advice. My strength was my own and I am damn proud of beating cancer but it was fuelled by the connections I had and the connections I made.
What Cancer taught me:
Most of my current relationships became stronger and I was given the opportunity to meet new and amazing people I would never have met had this not happened. I also gained perspective, learnt to create more boundaries and the importance of putting myself first. Cancer was a huge lesson in self-love, self-importance and positive selfishness.
If your life is ever derailed, just know that that doesn’t need to define you. Find those connections because I can promise you that you’re not alone. Realise that ‘being selfish’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Building boundaries within relationships is healthy and should be expected - people should earn the right to your story and you also don’t need to take their story on if it doesn’t add to your life. You don’t have to fake it til you make it - be honest with yourself, say no to the party if you just want to netflix. Learn what your values are and what feeds those values, those should be your priorities - fuck what society expects of you!
I have now come to peace with living in constant contradiction. I am utterly defeated yet empowered. I have almost no trust in my body yet I know I am brave. I feel angry at the pain cancer has caused me and my new friends yet I am thankful to have met so many incredible people. Once you can see the personal growth you’ve made through your terrible experience, it’s a little easier to start getting back on track.