Beating cancer is great.
It's like winning a prize fight. Mohammad Ali VS Smokin' Joe Frazier. At the end, when the doctor says to you "the scan revealed no indication of cancer in your body", you want to leap out of your chair and cheer (and probably will). It feels like you've been handed a golden trophy.
Then, later, as you go to put it on your shelf, you realise, "hold on, whafuck ? This thing's .. *sticky*"
You look more closely. There are brown smudges on the rim of the trophy (and now on your hands). "Ew, is that chocolate ?"
You smell your hands. Nope. It's not chocolate.
Grimacing, you lift the lid on the trophy, and yes. Yes, I'm afraid so. It's filled with shit.
There are people who don't win the fight against their cancer. They die. May they rest in peace.
But if you do survive the cancer, either by having it removed, or managed / in remission - you've probably got a laundry list of side effects ... but more likely than not, you also have a dark cloud hanging over you - a fear that will never go away.
I get face spasms. Yep, cramps in my face. They suck, but I'm grateful to have them. I have three young kids, and my deal with any sentient creator was simple - "don't make my little children face the grief of losing a father, and I will slay many goats in your name"
OK, no goats were killed in the writing of this post.
But yeah, I have face spasms, a laundry-list of chemoradiation side effects, and, any time I get sick, my neck lymph nodes swell up. They create a hard lump that often feels *EXACTLY* like the lump/node swelling that I had when the cancer was first diagnosed.
Yep. Every little cough, every feeling of fatigue, your thoughts will probably be shadowed with "has the cancer come back ?"
That's the grim reality of living with cancer.
My advice (and my personal goal) is to develop the tools and strategies that allow me to overcome (or at least ignore) these feelings of anxiety. Yes, we are all going to die.
But today, I am alive. Thank you, God, Allah, Fonzie, Batman. I am alive.
If you've got this same, crippling fear that I sometimes have .. I feel you. It's awful. But how about we try and park it to one side and celebrate the fact that we're still here ?
You summed up the monster well. It keeps going around and around for me. My cancer has been removed. I'm essentially cured. But I'm a cancer patient for life. I am about to start chemo. I'll be dealing with the side effect for however long.
And I think I've got off light!
But it's kind of like I did die. I'm a different person now. I don't live for the same reasons now. I've had to face things I never imagined I would. The rollercoaster is still traveling along at full speed. I'm confident I'll make it through okay in the end, but I'm not sure anyone get's off light. Compared to those with more serious conditions, sure, I think I'm lucky. But no one gets off light. I'll never be that guy again, he is gone now. I don't mind. I think I've become a better person.
Maybe I should thank the monster. I have a new perspective on life. I like the new me better. And while the monster may not kill me in the short term, it seems I'll never shake it either.
Well done on getting through your treatment. I hope your side effects improve. All the best for you and the family.
Agree with that laundry list. Three months outta Chemo N Zap my last Salivary gland set online takes a vacation anytime I reach for a Pabst (and God Help me if it's a Heineken!). Same goes for that old Latin Espresso.
I'm still able to enjoy the Arizona Summer Sun if I ignore the swelling of the neck (no more Tanning-now its Swelling after sun bathing...).
I've taken a regime of extreme exercising and have found that gaining that 23 lbs I lost seems like a pipe dream (and never mind gaining muscle density-I'm Super Sparse)...but only hard work and exercise keep fatigue at bay.
Weird but the day I take it easy means two days wanting to play couch potato.
Its a different life and outlook...for us Cancer Veterans.
Be part of this supportive community