• Time after cancer

    Asked by PetraW on Friday, December 9, 2011

    Time after cancer

    I am officially cancer free since August and that is a big relieve. For my family it is back to normal for the most part, but for me, it is different, as I feel this “C” topic will never go away again for the rest of my life. There is always a little piece in my mind, that is on the look-out for symptoms. I am trying to find that deep trust again, that I had during all the worst valleys. I was so determined to make it through and I did, but now it is as if I am not sure, which direction after all this. I am stumbling through my days, but have not yet found my new purpose, especially for myself and my life. I know exactly what I want for my kids and my husband and our life together. It is as if I have been thrown out of my orbit and am somewhere circling through the universe.

    I am sorry, I did not mean to whine, it’s not what I usually do. But all these thoughts have been with me for weeks and I feel so ungrateful. At the same time I feel you are a good pers

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I look for symptoms everyday, I am thankful to be here, to have beaten cancer 3 times, but I also know that I may have to fight again. We are survivors now, a club all our own, be proud to be a part of it, but always keep your eye on your health and look for things that are wrong. You beat it already, don't let it sneak up and get you again!! Good luck, relax, enjoy life, especially the little things that used to not make a difference to you, now are more enjoyable. At least for me.

      almost 5 years ago
    • janigirl's Avatar

      I get exactly what you are saying. I am 6 months out of treatment and feeling good physically but emotionally not so much. For my family also, things are back to normal but not for me. I fought hard and sailed through but now I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I am so grateful to be alive but I am not the same person that I was before cancer. I am told that this is completely normal. I try to take things one day at a time.

      almost 5 years ago
    • foneheads' Avatar

      Great question! I'm not even done with treatment and I am already thinking about that. Wondering if I could ask a similar question.. Is there any testing done after treatment to determine if it has spread to other parts of the body? I realize there will be mammograms more often, but is there any bloodwork done or anything else to see if somehow it shows up somewhere else? Or do they just assume the chemo took care of it unless we end up in pain and then specific testing is done on that part of the body?

      almost 5 years ago
    • PhillieG's Avatar

      Hi Petra, congrats on being cancer free. I believe its important to keep your guard up for cancer so you hopefully won't go through that again. I'm not suggesting that you are doing this Petra, but trying to act like nothing happened does not seem like a wise thing to do. One can let their guard down and who knows what that can lead to.

      I've been dealing with stage IV colon cancer continually since Feb 04. I think it's easy for those who have NOT had cancer to get back to normal but I personally don't believe that those of us who have had cancer will ever be "normal", at least not like we were pre-cancer, again. I've found that over my journey that I've had a series of new normals, each of those I've been able to adjust to after some time. Currently, I'm doing well and still on chemo.

      I just don't think it would be possible to feel like I've never been through this experience. While it's sucked at times, other times I realize that I may not have "seen the light" so to speak that cancer can shed on a person. There is an awareness of the simple things in life that my cancer helped to bring to the forefront. That's not to say that I didn't appreciate life or family prior to cancer but there was a change that I believe can only happen with a life changing event like cancer or a near death experience.

      I have discovered that part of my "purpose" now is to try to help others who are going through cancer. I'm VERY open with discussing my cancer with people. I recently had someone seek me out through another cancer site. His Dad had a similar dx as mine yet his doctors basically wrote him off saying there was nothing they could do with his liver mets. After hearing that and reading more about his liver mets and seeing how they were similar to how mine had been, I told him what my oncologist had done as far as treatment goes (HAI pump therapy) and it seemed to both of us that he could possibly benefit by that treatment. They contacted my Onc and sent his records over and she said that she felt she could in fact help him. She's not the type to BS you at all. While they were waiting for their appointment, he developed a blockage and was hospitalized where they lived in PA. They tried to contact our Onc to explain the situation but their message never reached the oncologist. They were waiting for a call back or advice on how to proceed in case he needed surgery. The Onc had stressed that if he started treatment elsewhere that she couldn't treat him. My new friend contacted me to explain what was happening and didn't know what to do, this was a Friday at 4:30pm. It was not like my Onc to not return a call so on my own, I called her office and explained the situation. They told me that the call was never routed to the office and for them to call ASAP. I let them know to call this other number and explain what their situation was. It was decided that IF it was necessary for him to have surgery, our Onc would sign for a medical transfer so he could be treated at Sloan. Luckily, he passed the blockage and surgery was avoided. The following week we both had appointments the same day around the same time so we got to meet in person. The Onc explained her plan and the guy liked it and they started treatment that day. It was very fulfilling to meet them.

      My point I suppose is that I don't have to be a part of survivor sites, I don't have to write about my experiences. I could just lurk like many do. I didn't have to answer the questions I was asked by the guys son that got the ball rolling. When I was asked to call them when the Dad had the blockage I didn't have to return the call. When it seemed strange to me that the Onc did not call them back I could have ignored it instead of calling the Onc on my own to question it. When we were both at the Onc's office, my business was over early and I was free to go beore they arrived.

      But I've chosen to do all of those things. I stayed for about 3 hours to talk with the Dad and his wife to share my experiences in the hope that it might lessen their fears of what lies ahead. I certainly did not say anything was guaranteed by any means. We all respond differently to treatments. An odd thing was that just prior to going to NYC, their "other" Onc told them they were "wasting their time with the HAI pump". Can you believe that? After he found out just who the new Onc was he changed his tune and now "it's an honor to work with Dr K". How Eddie Haskell-like (from Leave it to XXX) Go figure...

      Do I do this for ME or for OTHERS? Probably a little bit of both. I get to know that I'm helping others and others get to know what they might experience. We both win.

      Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be doing anything like this. I was painfully shy growing up and introverted. Being somewhat of an advocate I suppose has turned into a rewarding purpose for me. I by no means devote all of my time to this but I could not imagine not trying to help someone out. Especially with cancer but it's just become more of who I am. I just enjoy helping others when I can whether it's holding a door open, grabbing an item off a shelf for a little old lady, or randomly paying a persons bus fare when I come into the city for chemo.

      I didn't mean to be so long winded in this post (especially when I'm using an iPad and am doing 1 finger typing!)

      I hope you find YOUR purpose Petra, it doesn't need to be cancer related by any means, it could be anything at all but I think it's important to remember your cancer experience and not have it just be an unpleasant memory. I think everyone gains something positive from it.

      almost 5 years ago
    • fulto11's Avatar

      I am a caregiver and feel this way, for my husband. I am seeing this as a God Send to hear your inner feelings. Helps me to help him (and myself). The question from foneheads..."shows up somewhere else." They say that his will forever be in blood stream (small cell lung cancer. Easy to kill must most fast growing). Thank God this did not go to the head/neck area, this time. How close of a check will we get? What is classified as fast?
      Petra, you are not whining. Please post your inner feelings/fears. Sure does help me. You all are mentors for me. Have a beautiful day.

      almost 5 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      I feel exactly the same way and I am still in treatment. But the truth is, whether we are in or out of treatment, fighting cancer or cancer-free, the best thing about cancer is that it gives you the one chance to re-evaluate your own life and do, for once, what's best for you. When we face death (and that's what we are really talking about here - the fact that death is reality, not some vague avoidable notion), life changes. Once we really know that life doesn't go on forever, we can question what we really want to do with the time we have on earth. We are no longer content to let it slip by, day after day, doing the things we "have" to do, working at a job that brings in money but no pleasure or fulfillment, doing all the household chores that take away the time we could be spending enjoying life, taking care of others and putting ourselves last. Once you know life's greatest secret - that each day comes but once, so don't waste it - you can begin to concentrate on doing what adds to life. Simple things like taking a walk in the sunshine, instead of doing the dishes; sitting down and talking to your children, instead of rushing off to an "important" business meeting; cooking a good meal with your husband, instead of complaining about all the things that need doing. We don't have to change who we are - cancer doesn't change that. But we can, and probably should, change what we do. We can embrace the cancer experience while rejecting the cancer. And this experience teaches every one of us, in a profound and meaningful way - and in a way that a cancer-free person can never understand -that every moment of life is remarkable, valuable, unique and unforgettable. Sometimes we only value something when it is taken from us. So if you are feeling this "stumbling," and loss of direction, it's because you are not willing to go "back" to what you were doing before. It may mean that what you were doing before didn't hold enough meaning and fulfillment for you. As you move forward, simply be open to new opportunities, confident that they will come (because they will, sometimes most unexpectedly). Let go of all the other stuff from before that doesn't make sense now. It's like picking up shells on the beach - you pick them up one by one until suddenly your hands are full and you can hold any more. So what happens when you see the next one, more beautiful than the rest? You can only pick it up if you put down some of the shells you are holding now. So put down the old shells, make room for the more beautiful ones to come.

      almost 5 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      After 2 1/2 years in remission, it struck me only about one month ago that I am a survivor - perhaps because I am remain in maintenance treatment. One day, I ended up on the ACS Survivor's home page and it just hit me. As I put it, I die a little each day, knowing that I have potentially no more than 6 months of life from here on in, should the cancer not want to be stopped for a third time. Yet, each one of us is marching toward our final day on this earth. Each day, a perfectly healthy person somewhere loses their life in traffic simply commuting to work. We cancer patients have the advantage of knowing that our life span is limited, and we have a daily reminder to live that day to the fullest.

      One thing that I have tried to avoid is to allow my cancer to define me. That subordinates my being to a simple malignancy, which devalues me as a person. It makes me a victim. The cancer has no spirit, but I do! I awaken each morning, thankful for that awakening. I give thanks before my feet hit the floor. This sets the tone for the start of the day. When I am aware of my breathing, I give thanks even for that. This journey has strengthened my family.

      I have realized a new purpose of offering encouragement to other patients and their loved ones. As well, I cannot and will not deny the huge role that faith has played in preparing me for cancer, sustaining me through it, and propelling me past it.

      At treatment, I see infants and children, teens and young adults. I had nearly 56 cancer-free years, so I have nothing to complain about.

      almost 5 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar

      One day at a time. And I find it helpful that I do not "own" cancer and that it is not "my cancer." I am not a victim, nor do I wish to live like a victim. But I do, of course, watch my health closely. Really good reasons now to take good care of yourself and not put everyone and/or everything else ahead of yourself. I find I need to reassess priorities often.

      almost 5 years ago

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