"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Does Cancer Do To Someone?

I don't know why but I am in a little bit of a funk the last day or two.  It has been ten months since my diagnosis and life feels like in some ways it is finally moving on and getting more normal.  I know it can never be the life I had before, but I keep hoping it will be OK again. 

Today I was thinking about what I have to "get over" or "get through" for life to be completely normal again and quite honestly it made me stop and think about what breast cancer has done to me.  We all know the obvious things - surgeries, mastectomies, chemo and side effects, but what no one realizes are the many other things that go with it.

When you get diagnosed, you put on your "big girl panties" and just get prepared for what lies ahead.  You try to prepare for losing your breasts and getting new fake ones.  You try to prepare yourself for chemo and feeling like crap.  You try to prepare yourself for losing your hair or fighting to keep it through chemo.  You then slowly push through all of these things at a physical expense and an emotional one as well.  These are the things people around you know and see you go through.  What others don't see is the battle that lies within.

The battle within starts with the worst possible thoughts and fears of your diagnosis and what could really happen.  Ultimately the words "there is no cure" ring in your head.  Those words rip deep into your soul and rob you.  Those words steal your faith in things, peace of mind, many of your dreams and most of all your ability to lead another care-free day.  It's something only the actual patient can experience.  No one else can truly understand it unless the words have been said to them.

What others don't realize is that long after surgeries and chemo are over and hair is back to normal, the internal battle still goes on within for those diagnosed.  We may look normal on the outside and like our pre-cancer self again, but we are not done fighting.  It's a struggle everyday to deal with the cancer thoughts that dance in our heads.  A cancer diagnosis cuts you to the core and there are so many wounds inside that others will never see or understand.  That makes this a very lonely, lonely battle. 

I realized that others see me as "normal" again the other night when I was talking to my husband.  I was telling him that I was so sick of being tired and not sleeping well.  I have such a hard time getting to sleep even with xanax some nights.  My husband turned and looked at me and asked "what does keep you up at night?"  That is when it hit me....he really doesn't get it.  He has NO idea how much I am dealing with the internal battle in my mind.  That was a blow.  It just reinforced that no one else gets it no matter how close they are to me or how hard they try to understand. 

I love my husband and I am not mad.  I just wish people in my life had just a little more of a true picture of what my life is really like.  I know it's not their fault and if I had not been through this I wouldn't get it either.  I just know that my battle to fight cancer is still going on in my head.  I don't know how, when or if it will ever stop, but I am trying hard to cope and move on to a more care free life.  I don't want to live in this battle, I want to live in the real moments in my life.  That is what I am going to try to fight for every day. 


  1. Your reflection is so precise. I am already 11 months past chemo for NHL and am back to work, coping with family of two boys (4 and 6)and my very busy husband. Indeed, I often feel that those around me have absolutely no idea what a struggle it is to get on with normal life while the fear of the cancer reappearing hangs over your head. It is indeed a very lonely battle. Could do with many more hugs and kisses to get through. It often gets tiring to be the ever strong, courageous, inspiring person people tell me that I am - I still feel like I need lots of help and tender loving care.

  2. Maybe you need to print this in the New York Times! Only half joking. You put into words what I've been feeling these last few days. I read that cancer is isolating, but you put it all out there. So very hard to go through something that others just don't, or even can't understand. We push ourselves to do "normal things" to not rely on others as much, and that just perpetuates the idea that everything is "back to normal".
    prayers that you can keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  3. It's midnight and I'm reading this on my iPhone. Your words are my thoughts exactly. Haven't slept in weeks Because bc dances in my mind. I hope it stops soon