I was raised an atheist but have always wished I could believe in God because it would make life easier. During the cancer ordeal, I had to believe that there was a bigger picture and I had to let go of this control I thought I had over my life. Getting cancer was like any trauma. At first I didn't feel right using the word trauma but when I thought about it, it was like a serial killer decided to pick me, except the killer was my own immune system. I'm working through letting go of figuring why I got sick. Whether I could have been happier, healthier, you know all those things they speak of in anti-cancer books. I know that cancer happens, I had a curable cancer, but now that I'm out the other end I'm in shock. I've not made sense of my experience yet. I look at survivors further down the track as role models. But I'm not ready to have certain conversations. I was asked recently wasn't I scared that the chemo that made me better made me sicker and I have a shortened life span. If I were religious, I'd say, God has a plan for all of us and works in mysterious ways. If I were hardcore Bhuddist I'd say suffering is the path to nirvana. People think cancer survivors are all enlightened beings. But I'm not, at least not yet. I'm angry at times. My sister in law suggested anger was why I got cancer. She's one of those holier than thou, martyr types...I learnt to stay away from her weird energy during my cancer treatment. The last thing j needed was her concerned but completely clueless support. So this is how I answer the "aren't you worried the drugs that cured you will kill you?". No. Because if I didn't get chemo, I'd be dead today. I was on a very potent regime, but it is a new generation regime. I knew my doctor cares about quality of life in younger patients, so I trusted him. It was tough doing the last cycle since I probably was cancer free by then, but since they thought I needed a stc in the early days and I had prepared for that, I thought of the final round as insurance or mop up. Of course I'm worried about toxicity, but I had no option. Even if I went back in time I might not have had an option. In fact, unless someone asks, I try not to think about things that are beyond my control. I figure that no one has 100 per cent certainty they will live or die, until the end. I also have faith that I can regenerate and I try to look at the positives. Lance Armstrong helps. He regenerated. The thing is, I have to choose the path to further enlightenment through this shit experience. My other option is to keep dwelling on the bad shit. I'm hoping to die of old age in my sleep. And that's the thing. We are all going to die. It's just that most people my age or older think of it as quite an abstract thing. My fears are not for myself, but for my son. That's been the hardest part of it all. He's old enough to understand but not completely. I realize I can't protect him from everything and I'm so grateful that he is healthy. He has a cold at the moment and I was really anxious. I thought I had a mild cold/flu and it turned out to be cancer. I really have to work through my issues. Life seems so fragile. Every day since diagnosis, I've gotten to the end and thought, wow. I'm alive and I made it through. With an acute awareness of death, comes an acute awareness of life.
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Occasional Contributor
Hi Bluejandaling - I really enjoyed reading these insightful and honest thoughts of yours. SO much resonated with me... I am a cancer survivor too and yet, I still get to the end of the day with that acute awareness of life and death that you speak of. And yes, I think there is an element of post-trauma response in me. One day I hope to be wiser but in the meantime I have learnt to enjoy the moment and not invest too much energy in the less meaningful things in life. After my surgery, the hospital set me up with a house cleaner for 6 weeks - it was wonderful to have the work done for me! However she very quickly informed me that the reason I had gotten cancer was because of different emotions I hadn't dealt with in the past. As well an aquaintance of my partner's told me that he could recommend a good counsellor as obviously I had "Unfinished business" in my past and that's why I got cancer! F***!! I know people are allowed their own opinions but I find it incredibly unhelpful when they share them with me. However, I need to let it all go because at the end of the day, the only person who can know how it is for me, is me. And maybe searching for answers to "why" I got the cancer is a waste of time and energy. As one of my son's friends said to me, when he found out I had cancer, "Wow...shit happens!" Sums it up really :) As for all the toxicity and the long term impact - and my bones are aching as I write that because the medication I'm on is eating away at my bones but keeping the cancer at bay - I welcomed those chemicals into my body because I knew they would save my life. I felt poisoned and ripped away from my body, and it will never feel the same again, but I'm here. I am alive. And I wouldn't change that choice I made to take all that toxicity into my body. So... all the best to you Bluejandaling. Wishing you well on your road to recovery. Zen.
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Super Contributor
Oh crickeys ... when i was in hospital with my probably ms i was visited by some verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry religious people and apparently i got ms and my previous cancer because i have been a bad person ... my response in my head "yeah right, I think not!!!". THis time i have been told i got a base of the tongue tumour because I dont speak out enough. If it were that simple dont they think everyone would never have this insidious disease? If the answers as to whey we get it were simple do they not think they would have found a cure by now? Hang in there Bluejandaling, it does get easier. You are not physically back to normal yet nor emotionally and it takes time. No way to shortcut, just keep as healthy as you can and one foot in front of the other. Julie
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Frequent Contributor
I am in the same boat too. (It is a crowded boat, isn't it, and by the way, where are we going?) Reading your thoughts reminded me of that period post treatment when I was very confused and depressed. Don't underestimate the impact of the health system walking away from you and focusing on the next patient who is sicker than you. It is a huge change to deal with. I had a lot of trouble and it took many months to realise that I had been deposited in a new place. (By the way, I don't get the sense that Lance Atmstroang has an angle on that at all. I found other narratives were better for me.) I see myself as 'living with cancer'. Thinking of it like that I don't need to asnwer questions about how long I might have or whatever. They don't matter as I am living with it anyway, doing what anyone would do in the circumstances. H
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Regular Contributor
I agree with the others. I wasted too much time fretting about how I got cancer - overweight, stressed ect. Now I know I have to deal with those issues in order to maximise my chances of a non-recurrence. That doesn't mean, however, that it won't come back despite what i do. Losing weight and minimising my stress levels is good for me anyway - irrespective of the cancer. Now I try to be like the wise people on this site - deal with life on a day to day basis and try to take the joy from the little things. I have and am still struggling with this as my psych says that I am "recurrence phobic" but improving. I couldn't agree more with Harker when he mentioned the removal from the health care sysytem. Everyone around me thought that I was back to normal and expected me to behave accordingly. But I had changed and this has put an enormous strain on my ability to deal with my life. But I am getting there. As we all do, one way or another. I have been left with some side effects from chemo - neuropathy in my hands and feet- but my attitude is , at least I am here to feel the numbness. Yes, Harker, the boat is becoming crowded isn't it. The following may be frought with danger - any suggestions as to where we might be going?? Samex
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Super Contributor
We could make the most of this and turn it into a cruise. name your place?
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Regular Contributor
We may regret where this is going Julie. Vanuatu anyone?
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Super Contributor
First stop vanuatu ... hmmm I am thinking Italy.
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Regular Contributor
Italy is a long way in a possibly leaky boat....... Hey, what the hell!!!
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Super Contributor
6 months in a leaky boat? lol Where is your sense of adventure S? We can just plug up the leaks and before we know it we will be in Italy eating pizza ... minus the anchovies 😄
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Deceased
G'day there One of the things I don't ask is why? I worked for many years as a research chemist - if you do that it is not a matter of what were you exposed to , but rather what were you not exposed to. I worked in old buildings where asbestos was constantly flaking off the ceiling - but I don't have mesothelioma. I worked with some very nasty materials whose toxicity was known and so precautions could be taken. I also worked with, or shared laboratories with people working with, compounds of unknown toxicity. I moved out of one lab which I shared with some very sloppy operators, when the mice which infested the building started dying horribly. Why don't I follow these things up? Two reasons. The first is that it is my observation that it is too easy to get obsessed by these things and they end up making you bitter and twisted. The second is - what is so special about me? By age 75 one in three men and one in three women will have had a diagnosis of cancer. Why should I be any different? We now know that some cancers are preventable and are connected to lifestyle choices - diet, smoking, etc. Do we get angry and sue our parents because they overcooked the vegetable and didn't give us enough green/yellow leafy vegetable. Or because they fed us lots of good red meat, cooked in beef dripping. Do we sue them because they took us down each year to the holiday shack by the sea that was clad in asbestos sheeting and sent us down to stay on the beach for hours with little more than coconut oil to protect our skin so that we would get a healthy tan. As J P Hartley said in his novel The go Between "The past is a foreign country - they do things differently there". We cannot undo the past and we cannot get back - to use an ancient phrase - the years that the locusts have eaten. We can however, make the best of what we have been dealt with. We can learn how to sail in good and bad weather and when the bad weather comes we can shorten sail and manage the situation. Cheers Sailor They that go down to the sea in ships: And occupy their business in great waters; These men see the works of the Lord: And his wonders in the deep. Psalm 107:23
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