Life after Cancer that they don’t prep you for

Time - the least appreciated resource - Reblog
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

Provided by William Darnell Sr. (Bill) from I Got A Dream In Mind

   No one said that stopping treatment was going to be so hard…

   I met with my doctor recently, and was done with therapy for lymphoma for close to a year and five months now.  I hadn’t been feeling well, and I had no symptoms of cancer, nothing that made me suspicious of a recurrence. After the doctor examined me and reviewed my most recent CT scan and labs, the doctor agreed. No recurrence. He wrote in his notes, “NED,” the acronym for no evidence of disease.

   As we were wrapping up the visit, he asked me if there was anything else on my mind, anything else I was concerned about.

   There was.

   “I still get really nervous and anxious before coming to see you and before each scan,” I said. “I was prepared for how radiotherapy would make me feel. I expected to feel tired, to get sick. What I wasn’t prepared for was how to move on with my life, without letting cancer take over. No one told me that getting on with life after cancer would be like this. No one told me that this would be so hard.”

   And, to a large degree, he thinks I’m right.

   Doctor’s are very good at getting people through radiotherapy treatments and chemotherapy. Oncologists and oncology nurses are great at counseling on side effects, helping to manage nausea and other ill-effects of treatment. Families rally around the cancer patient during this time, providing much-needed emotional support and physical support. Friends – hopefully – step up to the plate and offer shoulders to cry on, hugs, personal experiences, and distraction.

   But when treatment is over? Well, life gets back to normal. Right?

   Hmm … not so fast. It’s just not that easy. That’s what they forget to tell patients. Getting back to normal, getting on with life, is harder than everyone expects.

   Picking up the pieces of your life before cancer – before radiotherapy and chemotherapy wreaked havoc on the body and soul – takes much longer than one might expect. With the end of treatment comes an upwelling of fear of recurrence, fear that because active treatment has stopped, the cancer will be able to grow again. There is fear surrounding each scan and each blood draw. Anxiety swells before each oncology visit.

   They may have forgotten to tell us that this is all normal. It’s an expected part of the recovery process. The fatigue from radiotherapy and chemotherapy will get better over time. The fear of recurrence will subside with the passing of the months.

   Another thing that they may have forgotten to tell us? Will we be able to get on with your life again after cancer treatment? We probably will be a changed person after your experience, but we’ll get back to normal. If not the old normal then for sure a new one. Your life will resume, despite cancer, beyond cancer. Just be sure to rally the support during this time. We still need it. Thank you for everything; the love, support, the hugs and the smiles of encouragment for us to move ahead and gain life again.

35 thoughts on “Life after Cancer that they don’t prep you for

  1. WOW, very nice piece. I can relate having fought off 2 cancers. I don’t think I’ll ever rest easy with the follow-up testing. Thank you for sharing. And best of luck to you. I’m trying to get back to a new normal, but its hard.

      1. The people that have the tough battles aren’t here anymore. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to live each day. Yeah its changed me, but I’ve adapted. I once had a friend pass from the same kidney cancer I had the first time, and his last sentiment was for me just to live life. I’ve seen some incredible bravery with most who have been stricken with cancer.

    1. My heart’s with you, and I’m sure thankful for this man Bogdan (DM). I had a very sadness long ago and couldn’t forgive myself. For 22 years I’ve seen psychiatric doctor’s and mostly spoke a lot to God about it. He revealed to me not too long ago, and told me, go on your technology and tell this to a staranger. Maybe this will help find forgiveness that I kept myself in conviction to. Now I wasn’t really nice, and said a lot of cussing, but told Bogdan exactly. I’m grateful I came back I just happened to his site. I heaviness that I carried 22 years just lifted. Not fully but most of it is. Now I’m going to write this compelling hurtful tragedy, in a dignified manner. I believe the story is still on his site. I had ask my daughter if I could do this. And she knew it was time for me to breathe. It’ll be coming soon. I hope you live somewhat of a normal life again, whatever normal is. God Bless your journey and may it be upon you always. Mike I’ll think of you daily as well. That’s Bogdan (DM) for the opportunity to express my thoughts and wish you both the best everything!

  2. I have had Hodgkins Lymphoma. We t into remission in 2014 but lufe us shut. The chemo left me blind, wheelchair bound, and with no feeling in my hands and feet. I am now TOTALLY dependent. I can never lead a normal life again. I wish I had not fought it. Yet I live on. I write my poetry ( my Blig) and gain most of my energies fro: that. I do not have the love and support of family and friends. I would be nowhere without my friends on WP. They are what keep me going. I hope you do not mind but I am goung to Reblog this.

  3. I should also have said a big THANKYOU for posting this. It has enabled me to own up to how I am REALLY feeling, on my Blog. I normally keep ut hudden. All piwer to you. We keep going – SOMEHOW!

  4. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2016. I had surgery on October 31st, and started radiotherapy in December, which was finished by the end of January 2017. I was lucky, we caught it early and nothing had spread to the lymph nodes taken during the lumpectomy. I didn’t need chemo. and I cannot begin to express the relief.
    I documented it all on my blog, having the support of friends and the medical people dealing with my case. I have a helpline I can ring anytime and someone will get back to me within 24 hours. I’ve had two mammagrams since and both are normal. I have twinges, pain and some swelling around the scar tissue, I am assured that this is normal, but if I am at all anxious or worried, to ring the helpline. I have decided to keep this part of my medical care with the hospital who handled my diagnosis and surgery, even if they are a five hour drive away as medical care where we live now is a farce.
    It does not help that I have put on a stone in weight within a year of my surgery and despite my efforts, cannot lose it but at least my weight is stable.
    I check myself religiously every time I shower and am afraid it will come back, There is a history of breast cancer in my family, having lost twin aunts and a cousin to the disease.
    I took early reitirement in 2007 which has been a blessing as I didn’t have to worry about work. Hubby has been my rock throughout, but he too is anxious about its return.

      1. Thank you for responding, I consider myself extremely lucky as we found it early and I was treated more or less immediately. I cannot fault the care and support I had, but I guess there will always be that niggle………

  5. Our son once wrote: “Now, I continue to press on with these forces guiding my health. Only time will tell how I progress, but I approach tomorrow with faith. There are a lot of forces out of my control, but no matter what, I continually remind myself, I get to be alive here and now. I have found the present is a gift worth appreciating a little more.” How does a mother move forward with life after cancer… after her son has passed away from a brain tumor that literally isolated his thoughtfull mind from his physical body? He wants me to continue to live here and now, with this ‘present’ He has given me. When Neil was first diagnosed, someone told me “Cancer is a gift.” …Whah? Overtime I have come to understand. Now I write to share Neil’s story and his wisdom, and I write to create awareness and advocate for safer, more effective options of treatment. I’m continuing the quest he pulled me into, and he is the angel ever at my side…

  6. My late wife battle cancer for four years before passing away in 2015… there were nothing “normal” about life before, during or after the cancer…. because every day brings new changes and challenges… 🙂 “normal” is a state of mind, I believe… 🙂

    “Life is a process of becoming… a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” Anais Nin

      1. Well, obviously I had to make changes at times in order to help my wife deal with the cancer (she had Stage 4 lung cancer and as her oncologist stated “there is no Stage 5” ) but as I/we lived life with a open heart and mind there were no major affects on me personally.. Changes in life happen daily, with or without disease..
        And as I helped my wife (and others at the cancer center) deal with cancer, I learned a great deal about society, the medical profession, insurance companies, etc and it were not a pleasant experience… as the saying goes; “welcome to the real world”.. I would not wish it on anyone.. 🙂
        Which is another reason why I, along with many others, have chosen the path least traveled… 🙂

        “The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.” Francis Phillip Wernig

      2. Yes, helping all of them! That’s the support all cancer patients needed. The more the merrier and the quicker to get well. It a very brash and harsh disease, I would rather carried it then any other. And I’m just a little ole 128 lbs. But in it’s face I’ll look it, and say not today, just not today. God Bless you always.

  7. Bogdan, you certainly hit key topics with your post; cancer, lymphoma and uncertainty. My husband was diagnosed with indolent non-Hodkins lymphoma five years ago. He went through one round of treatment near the beginning and the tumors have stayed small since then. Miraculously, he seems to be in good health. But we go in for his tests each year, and then our anxiety becomes intense. This year he’ll have another CAT scan. We end up “compartmentalizing” the cancer component of our lives because we learned we can’t keep going and care for our child if we worry each day. -Rebecca

    1. Thank you! I’m glad William shared his story with us. I’m sorry about your husband’s diagnosis, but I’m sure he is stronger than the disease since he manages to keep it in control.
      By the way, the daily worrying does much worse than good so I’m glad you’ve learned to “compartmentalize” this component.

    2. I can feel the struggles, I truly can. May he be Blessed always and may the nodes just stay small. Stress doesn’t help, make us even sicker. One thing I always done, even when I was sick, was make them nurses get me out of bed and go visit the other patients. Many don’t have a support and they stay sick longer periods of time. Well, I knew my Lord was with me, and I went and seen them all. Hold their hand, read a book, or just simply be with them. The biggest joy when I was sick, was seeing a smile on their faces. That was daily plan, if I was in the hospital for periods. One thing when I got sick, was I wasn’t letting them put no chemotherapy ports in me. If there was enlarged nodes, it was radiology and if I thought they would become a problem. Out they go, I’ll take my chances. It’s been since May 4th, 2015 at 10:58a, an oncologist visit, and I already knew. I thanked my doctor and hugged all my staff nurses. I had to look away from them, and said ok Dr Thomas

      1. It’s my time. No more treatments of any kind, no more pills, no nothing. I said I stand in Faith, Hope and Belief, I’ll be delivered one way or another. If stage 4 it is nothing you can do for me now. If God wants me, He’ll bring me home. 3 years ago when my prognosis was 6 months to a year. Ok, I really appreciate that team and I’m still here. I got the Master Healer on my side, and still got work. God Bless your husband, and God Bless you too, always. Sincerely,
        William (Bill)

  8. My thoughts our with very much so. Tell you what, I’m going to think of you everyday now. You’ll be forever there. Blindzanygirl you’re stuck with me now till the end. My biggest support I had, was my old buddy Jesus. He said, not today will I let you go. Your journey with me will be for some time to come. Ok Lord, you had me at “Hello.” God Bless you in all your days to come still. I wish you the best blindzanygirl. ✌️

  9. Bogdan (DM) thanks for the support, the tremendous support. I thank you humbly for the opportunity to have you post it my experience and a positive impact you bring. May your Blessings be bountiful and your days live out long. God Bless my friend, always!

  10. I’m tougher then anyone ever thinks. And that’s a fact my friend. What I went through, anyone else would of murdered the guy, end of story. But it was a sacrifice I had to make and I can’t be everywhere all the time. It wasn’t my fault. My best friend and I was talking this evening about it. I need to write the story but have dignity. It’s half way written. It’s just being dignified and even it was horrific for the whole family. It needs dignity added even to the individual that had none. Strength but clearly, the thundering voice was enough for me to do as I was told. Cause it rumbled my whole body. But it’s gone and I forgive myself.

  11. This is explained so well. The transition must be a hard place to be in. I find that because my treatment is for life I dwell in a type of ‘no man’s land’. I will never hear ‘Ned’ but remain in a cycle of scanxiety and the rest. They way you have explained it is really honest, we are not advised how to move forward and have to find our own way 🙁

Leave a Reply