I sit in the chemo day unit having chemotherapy pumped into my veins, but feel like I don't 'belong' there. You see, I am surrounded by 'sick' people, cancer patients. As people keep telling me, doctors and nurses included, I look well. I haven't lost my hair. I haven't lost weight (I am ashamed to admit I may have actually gained a bit). A good majority of the other cancer patients are elderly. They have a daughter or son sitting by their side for support. Most of these daughters and sons are somewhat older than me. I sit with my husband by my side. We read magazines and chat. Snacks come by far more often than I actually need. This is not to say that I feel well. For the 3-4 days after chemo I feel like I've been hit with the worst hangover known to man. I feel like a lead vest has been put over my entire body and I nap on the couch a lot of the time. Then my energy levels improve and life resembles some kind of normal for 3 weeks. This mind-frame of not feeling like a sick person could stem from optimism and strength. Refusing to let myself become a victim. Refusing to let cancer destroy my hopes and dreams. It is in stark contrast to how my body feels after chemo though. Sometimes I think it'd be easier to get treated with sympathy if I looked as sick as I feel. If I lost my hair and looked like a cancer patient.
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Occasional Contributor
What a strange feeling - I completely understand where you are coming from. I am feeling so well, am trying to get as fit as I can, ready for major, major surgery in January. It is hard to grasp that I do have cancer, that it will not get better, and this is my best chance of beating it. I feel like there is nothing wrong with me yet I will soon be having an operation that will make me feel like shit, and from which it will take me 6 months or so to recover. Surreal..............
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Occasional Contributor
Thanks for your comment Rosey. I imagine the journey ahead is scary when you feel well now. I hope you continue to stay fit and well in the meantime, and all the best for your surgery and recovery :-) Catherine
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New Contributor
Hi Catherine - when I read your blog it was almost like I had written it myself. You are not alone. I too feel like somewhat of an imposter and third day in going to the clinic with the majority of suffers being elderly and frail was like an out-of-body experience, a reality check, and also a massive help of guilt - to the shock of my husband I jumped up and ran out - he said it was the fastest he'd seen me move in weeks! It's gotten easier, especially being armed with bags of "distractors" (headphones,ipad, iphone, books, beading, chrystals...I tried taking up knitting but I had to accept that it really aint my thing). It's the little things helping me through at the moment, the pleasure of sucking on soft Licorice, when I get a ting of nausea, or Sayo crackers packed with marg and vegemite. And Apple/Raspberry cordial never tasted better. These little things that are helping me get through treatment.
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Occasional Contributor
Thanks Lyanin for sharing that you feel the same way. I guess it helps to have simple pleasures in what is a particularly unpleasant time in our lives. Staying upbeat and positive helps to ward negative feelings away. I haven't tried any crafty activities during chemo because the IV often gets in the way of ambidextrous work. Good on you for tackling it!
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i know exactly what you mean. my brain is fine - my body isn't doing so well, especially during radiation- i was exhausted but in my head i am fine and healthy and i get impatient with my body because i want to do stuff but it doesn't work the same way any more. All the people in the radiation clinic waiting room didn't exchange smiles or hellos even though we saw each other every day. i tried to engage but they were shut into themselves or the people they were with. i felt overwhelmed with their negative energy even though i fully understood that each person deals with what they are going through in their own way. i felt if i was as low in energy as they were that the radiation wouldn't work as well. strange i know but i wanted to give myself the best opportunity so i told myself that we (me, myself and i) were going to come through this ok and with a sense of humour so i made it my mission to be lively and jokey with the staff as they prepared me for the radiation- even if i was terrified. many of the people were elderly and wheelchair bound bought down from the wards- some were also having chemo. at no stage did i think that i belonged there and that i was in fact ill even though i had pulmonary embolisms and endometrial cancer. if i hadn't suffered from the radiation damage, i wouldn't considered myself ill. the bowel and bladder problems was the thing that made me feel ill. even now still with those problems and a year and a half post radiation - i feel healthy.
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when i had my surgery, radial hysterectomy which took four hours longer as they had to cut through internal adhesions and two lungs recovering from PE's i was terrified but put on a brave face. i was determined that i wasn't going to be a drag on those that were there to care fore me. i cracked jokes, chatted happily even though i was full of fear. the staff couldn't believe how i was capable of doing things hours after the surgery and my happy nature= but i do already have a happy nature and i really believe you can make yourself feel better by looking at life with gratitude - i refused the why me palava and decided whatever way it went i was still grateful and i still am. grieve but then look at what you have and what you will have. as an earlier post said, it is the small things in life and i would suggest, being here and present in the moment. i wish you every success, and a lot of how you feel is mental even in the bleakest times xx
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Occasional Contributor
Hi petalinperth, I understand the sentiment about feeling impatient with your body not functioning as it should, I spend the 4 days after chemo feeling so frustrated that my body is incompetent. I'm usually such a busy person and I can't stand being fatigued and unable to get out of the house or even able to do housework. I agree with the happy nature and good humour. I'm like that too, cracking jokes and trying to keep things upbeat. Thanks for your positive words 🙂
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