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Post Treatment Adjustments

kahleel
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2001

I'd be very interested in hearing about how people have returned to "normal" after treatments are over. I find I am in a mine field of emotions and don't know how to be me anymore.

dpomroy's picture
dpomroy
Posts: 137
Joined: Dec 2000

I'm not sure if I'll ever feel "normal" again, and I don't that I want to. Cancer and everything that came with it blew my life as I knew it to smithereens. Now that treatments are over, I am trying to put things back together again. But there are some holes that I don't want to fill up again with just any old thing. I want to fill those empty places up with things that will help me to be strong and healthy. I'm becoming the new me that I choose. It is a very emotional process, because you are grieving the loss of many things even as you are gaining others. Be patient with yourself.

kahleel
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2001

Yes, I guess I feel a pressure about filling those holes you describe. I feel I should make best use of my time, do all the right things for myself, appreciate everything and at the same time not feel I "should" anything. I am constantly reviewing everything I say and do, it seems. I THINK I'm doing it right, but I don't yet feel too comfortable with me. What have you done to "feel strong and healthy?"

dpomroy's picture
dpomroy
Posts: 137
Joined: Dec 2000

The pressure seems to come more from other people who want me to return to their version of what normal me is. The problem is that she doesn't exist anymore. Maybe this is part superstition, but I believe that our body, mind and soul all affect one another, and that the old, normal me at least in part got cancer because of stress, bad habits, etc. I really don't want to go back to that version of normal ever again, because I don't want to go through this ever again if I can avoid it.

The number one thing that I have tried to do, and it is still very hard...I try to listen to my gut. Not my head, because I can rationalize things to death...but my gut. If something doesn't feel right about it than I don't do it.

I have been learning to say no to a lot of things which reduces my stress and gives me more time to fill up with the things I love. Sometimes that just means doing NOTHING! Doing more of the things I love or even just want to try makes me happier and better able to handle all of the other things in my life. (Of course I try to eat right, and do some form of exercise each day even if it's only to walk the dog. But those are my "shoulds")

Everyone's things they might do to feel good would be different. I say think less and trust that inner instinct. Sky's the limit, what do you WANT to do?

crtsang
Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

Returning to "normal" wasn't something I could do, although I've returned to my routine life. Somehow I tried to figure out the emotional impact of the disease on me, but really you just have to experience it.

You might take this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Try doing some new things--not necessarily important things, but, take up an exercise, or yoga, or start playing with clay, or painting, or whatever. And, yes, give yourself time. In time you will recognize yourself, and at the same time see where you have changed.

Carol

czarniak
Posts: 9
Joined: Sep 2001

I completed my last chemo treatment (A/C for breast cancer) last week and will begin my radiation within the next couple of weeks. I found that attending the American Cancer Society's ..... "I Can Cope" session was a great help. You might want to check out your local support service. The sessions I attended were on four consecutive Tuesdays from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. held at a local hospital's cancer center. It was not the typical support group because each session had health care professionals who addressed issues that were important; i.e. emotional support was the topic of one.
Another way to cope for me was to talk about my treatments as they were happening. Now that the chemo is over, i can hardly believe that I went through them. I went out and bought myself a music CD of "dance" hits and now that I'm feeling a little stronger I can put the music on and float around the room.

Hope this is of some help.
Kathy

jo anne
Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2000

Dear kahlee,
I have been in remission from lung cancer for 2 years now. I too am a field of emotions. I think "normal" is not a word that applies to those who have had cancer. We have fought a long battle...and it leaves some of us just emotionally strained. Perhaps there are those who make it through better, perhaps not. I do not know how to control the emotions, so I don't. I cry when I need to cry, get angry when I need to unload that. I know I am different now..I might not like some of me but I do love all of me and that is why I allow me my emotions. I am also aware others may not get it and consider me well..and I am..but I am not the same. I am not ashamed of that. We just have to continue to do the best we can.

nutt
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2001

All of your comments helped yet, still only 60 days after seed implant and still on hormone therapy I feel I am a basket case emotionally and it is very difficult coping with life, job, and the human desire of family to put it out of their minds.
I think I have tried to hard to understand my families desire to put it into the past as a means of " out of discussion, out of sight". Hopefully, the depression, highs, lows and mood swings will subside as it is a tremondous amount of pressure coupled with everything else that has gone wrong this last year.
thanks for your inputs.

crtsang
Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

It is *very* difficult to deal with, especially at first. It's such a shame that it seems no one in your family can help you with this. It helps so much to have people to talk with, especially people who've shared at least part of your experience. If you haven't already done so, try to find a group in your area, of other cancer survivors. Gilda's Club, ACS, your local hospital...I hope there's somewhere you can find the space to deal with it.
Hang in there.
Carol

kimmme
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2002

I know how you feel. People act like you should just get over it and be how you were before. I think it's like being reborn. Make yourself who you want to be.

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

Kahleel,

My family tells me I am not "normal" yet - three months after post-surgiclal treatments have ended. I am starting group sessions with the Wellness Community to help me adjust. I found a book at Amazon.com which I have found helpful - "After Cancer - A Guide to Your New Life' by Wendy Schlessel Harpham. M.D. This doctor is a cancer survivor who writes about post-cancer life in a very readable question and answer format. You may want to try it.

Good luck.

Tom

gumbowife's picture
gumbowife
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2002

Wow! What is normal now??? It's been 5 years since my Bone Marrow Transplant and I look at my high school graduation picture and think "who is that?" I feel like I've changed so much since I was diagnosed with cancer. I think all of us who go through it are forever changed by the experience. But that too can be a good thing. I feel like I'm much more compassionate now about the troubles and feelings of others. I now value the little things in life like sitting outside on a nice day and eating a sandwich. I feel like I've grown as a person even though I had to go through so much pain to do it.

But I understand where you're coming from. Sometimes I feel sad and wonder if I'll ever be that girl in the picture again. Cancer completely transforms your life. I don't know if I'll ever be "normal" again.

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