Tuesday, May 26, 2009


It's quite difficult writing about this particular topic because family and friends read this blog. But I think the "leftovers" after treatment are just as valid, if not more, than the horror of going through treatment. There's a big gaping hole in the understanding of how an individual feels after treatment. So if anyone is feeling overly sensitive, don't read further.

Aftermath of treatment encompasses just about everything a person can imagine. The pain doesn't miraculously go away - in fact, the aches are just beginning. The fatigue gears up and is measured against the incredible fatigue of chemo. Motivation is low, despite having every reason to get moving. Hey, life has passed you by for 10 months - why are you sitting on your butt?

It's too hard. Way too hard. I see why people give up. I understand that now better than I did at the beginning. Because the healing hasn't even really started yet and it seems like another mountain to climb. I feel ages older than my 41 years.

I struggle to explain this to Bill, who inevitably aims to refocus my thoughts on a more positive trail. It has nothing to do with reinforcement from other people; it has to do with me. I get overwhelmed quite easily now. I get tired. I have no stamina anymore. If I do get a burst of energy, I blow myself out for 2 days after. It seems like an endless cycle.

I don't feel depressed nor do I focus on my situation all day, every day. I never have. However, the masses need to realize that people who've been treated as I have been face their mortality every day. Every day I wake up thinking of my ruined chest and wondering if my aggressive course of treatment got all the cancer. Living with that heavy weight on my shoulders isn't easy. It's fine to say "focus on the positive" but in reality, it seems many are incapable of handling me just airing my anger at my situation. Which, I will point out, is my God given right.

I have had two people ask me in the past few weeks if Jackie is my granddaughter. I'm 41. 41 and I've had to deal with insensitivity from strangers, family and friends. I am aware that it's not intentional. But there it is. It's these comments that plague cancer survivors who are struggling to get back on their feet to lead a somewhat normal life among the pieces left behind after a cancer diagnosis.

In this struggle to find some normalcy in what is left, it shouldn't be a given that I should accept insensitivity from anyone. I haven't expressed my anger throughout this whole thing, nor have I struck out at anyone in anger when I've felt my very worst. I've conducted myself just as I would if I was normal. The hitch is that I'm not normal anymore. But the vast majority of the people I deal with are normal and they are failing woefully at being kind and caring influences.

So I sit here, not feeling any better, not feeling any worse. Just wondering if my course of treatment was enough, if I need another surgery and when, and if I'll have enough energy to empty the dishwasher. No pressure, just trying to find a way to meet life head on again. And finding that so hard to do.


Holly said...

o my dear - i wish i could reach across space and give you a big and gentle hug - and not let go....i get it, everything you are saying and i will listen for as long as you need...i know just what you mean....

Daria said...

Excellent post ... I have so felt/feel what you are feeling ... it's just not that easy.

It's not what people think it is and so the pressure is on you to move on as they say.

Please keep sharing, it is so important for other survivors but also it's important for family and friends to know.

Beth said...

What a great post. Is there a survivor support group in your area? I am new to treatment (2nd chemo in 2 days) but I've already heard/read a lot about what its like after the treatment is over. The other people in your life expect you to be fine, they don't understand that it can still be another year to get rid of the fatigue (and the fears). There does need to be more awareness, or some way to set their expectations of how long the recovery will take. You just need to know you're not alone, and writing about it here will help others that are following you to. Thank you.