Dealing with Another Diagnosis: When Overthinking Becomes the Way to Fill Your Day

Photo: ScriptMag

Ethan Mclaughlin

This blog originally featured on Ethan’s Blog, at

Read his first blog post here:

So I don’t know how long I am going to put up with this, but today is Tuesday the 12th of April, and is the first day when I have nothing to do. My parents are working, my brother has headed back to Bristol and I have no hospital visit to make.

I know I might have it – but I feel fine, which is possibly the thing you don’t prepare yourself for, because if I thought about getting cancer, I thought of a depressing slow sickness which I am sure is unfortunately the case for many people. It’s strange to know you might be dying, but to have no feeling to associate this with.

It’s probably a common a thing that all people have to learn to deal with before treatment actually begins. So today I am writing this whilst sitting at a costa, when I could have just made coffee at home, simply to get out the house. Thank you, Lesley, for the gift card.

Obviously, everyone is very different, but I have never been very comfortable with my own company.

I think it might be some kind of tick that I developed when I was a lot younger to deal with my autism, where I have to continue to work to be comfortable talking to people, so much so that I can’t deal with my own company. I have always been pretty envious of my brothers and my girlfriend, who are so comfortable in their own skin that they can happily just spend a day sitting in front of their laptop or watching TV.

As my mum would agree, I have never been too conventional in how I have done this life thing.

But, the time and feeling of not being bothered enough to do my dissertation means you start to think way to much. Two days ago was me and my girlfriend’s one year and 6 month anniversary. Not many couples can say that in such a short time both parts of a couple nearly die. My girlfriend had a anaphylactic shock after eating a walnut when she came to visit me in Warsaw.

A lot of things suck about this, but every day I try to mentally prepare myself for all eventualities, and about what treatment I am going to need.

So far, I guess I have dealt with this quite well, but I think when faced with the word cancer I am just thinking of the best case scenario, which, at the time of writing this, is the fact that I don’t need chemo. But I suspect and am realistic enough to appreciate the fact the odds of me getting through this with no chemo is pretty small.

But if, on Friday 15th, I get a call and they say I need full chemo, three to four cycles, I think that will be the point when the smile might be difficult to keep up. I want to graduate; I want to be there to see my girlfriend graduates; I don’t want mine and my families lives, our holidays, my holidays, my time with my girlfriend before life begins in September, to go to waste. I am hoping, anyone who reads this, who has had the misfortune to go through this, will tell me it will all be fine.

But I would still prefer to have to put my life on hold for a month now, than the next. I guess that’s the thing with cancer – it doesn’t give a crap about your plans, or your dreams, and in the space of a couple of weeks, you’re done. But it’s not my life and I guess that’s what counts.

So my next article will bring you right up to date with me, and it has been a difficult time, recently.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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