After the flurry of blogs that filled Allergy Awareness Week last week, I am reflecting on why I write. There are many reasons, including to share stuff I’ve learnt, help others and as a therapy; the latter being very high on the list. Writing about having allergies and ranting occasionally about things that get me irate does really help me process this condition and develop coping mechanisms. I write a journal too which is invaluable when struggling with difficult decisions.
(apologies for that awful photo, I look slightly odd… it was the best of a bad bunch of awful selfies.)
The main reason I have been thinking about this is because of “The C word”, a film we watched recently based on the blog and book written by an inspiring lady called Lisa Lynch who died from cancer in 2013. Sheridan Smith as Lisa Lynch is absolutely fantastic. Let’s just say I am now feeling very humbled. It is a brilliant film; heart breaking, hard hitting, incredibly moving but mostly very uplifting about one woman’s fight with cancer. It explored how she came to terms with finding a way to cope and accept her diagnosis and terminal prognosis. She was also a brilliant writer and reached out to others with cancer through her blog and helped so many through her outlook and honest portrayal of her journey in her book The C Word.
Blogging about allergies… we’re doing fine
It makes blogging about allergies seem a little pathetic really. Because most of the time I’m absolutely tip top, A OK and completely fine. It is a fact that 99% of people who are at risk of anaphylaxis will never have a fatal reaction. That’s pretty good odds – so even if I make a mistake I’ll probably be OK. I carry adrenaline auto-injectors with me everywhere to use in case I do have an allergic reaction and I don’t let my allergies stop me doing very much.
Many people who I work with don’t even know about this other life I lead. The allergy queen persona. This is partly because I play down my allergies if I can. I would rather not mention them because people’s reactions when you do tell them can be anything but sympathetic and often dismissive so you feel you should have just kept quiet anyway.
But I write about this stuff because it helps me to do so. I also write in the hope that it will help others with the same condition find hope, find support and not feel so alone. Because being one of the 1% of the population with a life threatening allergy can be a lonely and frightening place.
Your comments people are invaluable. Getting a response from someone is just the best. Even if you don’t agree with me I still love hearing what you think. Blogs are all about sharing, exploring and challenging. Sometimes life with allergies and eczema sucks and this blog gives me an outlet to vent, share and reach out to all of you.
I’m not for a moment comparing anaphylaxis to cancer
I am not for one moment comparing anaphylaxis and allergies to cancer; they are two very different diseases. The ‘c’ word, rightly strikes fear into everyone’s heart. Allergies are a bit crap but cancer is a truly horrible disease. Having watched my father-in-law fight bowel cancer and go through chemo and radio therapy, which very nearly finished him off, I know what cancer is like. It sucks the life out of you and the treatment is nothing short of barbaric, but eventually it gave him at least four more fulfilling and happy years with us, for which we were all very grateful.
The Allergy UK Allergy Awareness Week campaign #LivingInFear got you all thinking about what it’s like having life threatening allergies but this is nothing like facing the fear of what a cancer diagnosis means. There is always hope but cancer takes people regardless of what they do, eat, where they go and what risks they take. Cancer often has little to do with lifestyle choices although sometimes negative or poor choices can increase the likelihood.
Of course there are many who believe that clean eating and healthy living can significantly help prevent and even cure cancer but for every positive affirmation of this there are others who have done everything right and still lost that fight.
Staying safe with one or more life threatening allergies however relies heavily on staying safe, making sensible choices, planning ahead and being prepared. We can do quite a lot to maintain our safety and avoid a reaction.
Being born with or developing allergies is also pretty much the luck of the draw and although studies into epigenetics, microbiota, birth, weaning etc. may play a very important part we don’t fully understand how, why or when allergies will strike. Many types of cancer often seem to be random too.
Is there a link between allergies and protection from cancer?
When I started writing this blog I wondered whether there might be a link between having allergies and being at less risk from cancer. I have read before that having allergies could protect someone from certain cancers due to the allergic body expelling or flushing out pathogens, toxins etc. before they can cause a problem. I have also read that having allergies can increase the likelihood of other cancers. As I’m writing this I am wondering whether I am tempting fate even putting these words onto paper – am I being a little smug to assume that I may be protected in some way because I have allergies? Oh the irony if I’ve got this horribly wrong…
Read Allergies: their role in cancer prevention for a review of 463 studies into potentials inverse and positive links. It’s not conclusive but suggest that indeed, having an overactive immune system could indeed be protective against developing certain cancers.
Did anyone else watch the C word film? Any thoughts on whether having allergies may in any way be protective against cancer? or is it all hogwash… Whatever you think we all have our ‘thing’ that we live with, be it depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, struggling with our weight, eczema, allergies, cancer… It’s all about how we choose to live with it that counts.
Something that really stayed with me recently from my father-in-law’s funeral, John Holroyd July 1935 – April 2015, it’s that tiny little dash in the middle that counts. The hyphen between the dates of birth and death. We don’t stop and think about that little dash but it’s not insignificant. That hyphen represents everything that happened in a life. Not the length of time or the money you earned or the number of friends you had, it’s how you got there.
Love, live and embrace life people. You only get one chance at this game.