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I've survived cancer, now what?

melzmom
Posts: 47
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi everyone:

I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in September of 2000. I was sick six months prior to my diagnoses. However, my symptoms mirrored typical food allergies and I was sent to an allergist and put on Predisone several times. Finally, a third trip to my regular MD resulted in her insisting that I see another allergist. From there I had a chest x-ray done which showed a large spot on my chest. In less than three weeks time I went from working full time to having two biopsy surgeries (first one was not conclusive) and two chemo treatments. My life was turned upside down. Suddenly my life was Dr.'s visits, medications, sleeping, the phone ringing off the hook and I became a cancer victim. I felt very lucky to have the medical care that I had and during the six months of treatment I did exactly what the Dr.'s told me to do. I went to all of my appointments, took all of the medications, ate when I was supposed to and rested. Never once during my treatments did I think I wouldn't be cured. All of the medical professionals were amazed at my positive attitude.

My tumor is gone! The chemo and the radiation were successful. I have one more test that I have to do--A PET Scan next week. The trouble that I am having is making the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor! I feel depressed all of the time. Now I reflect back to what we went through and I am in shock. I keep telling myself that the past six months was spent getting better physically and now I need to heal emotionally. I just don't know how to do that. I am so afraid the cancer will come back or that they didn't get it all. Since there is no known cause for my type of cancer I can't stop doing something to prevent it from coming back. The phone has stopped ringing. I don't have the daily attention from the Dr's anymore. My family and friends can't understand what I am going through because they have never been there before. If any of you have been where I am, please, please e-mail me here or e-mail me at Melzmommy@yahoo.com. I would really love to hear from you.

Thanks,

Lia

jmohn1
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi Lia
I've been there and further it doesn't make it any easier.I had non hodgkins lymphoma treated with chemo for 16 months a few days a week. I must of had 15 different kinds of chemo they all made me sick. Then I had to get a bone marrow transplant because my remmission only lasted 3 weeks or so. I went to drs. for a hernia and came out with stage 4 lymphoma. I had 15 hospital stays multiple days each.I had 12 spinal taps half with chemo in it. I suffered from truama's at an early age then drug and alchol addiction got clean and sober 6 years. Then they throw in cancer my dad died from it my mother got it twice. Idont care about my self I care about others. I dont give myself credit I should for what I went through.I've had so much chemo my memory is shot. Its been over a year of the transplant I still dont care about myself Im trying to. I know I will get sick again. I still suffer from serious deprression and addictions to my perscription meds. I had to put my self in a mental hospital because of suicide thinking.I know what the family goes through because my older brother killed himself 3 years ago but couldn't take it any more. I'm doing a little better with that I see a theropist twice a week and it is working some what. you should at least see some one it does help I find it easier to talk with a strager than family. this is my first visit to the site I wish I new it a couple of years ago. You can email me at jmohn1@mail.com I hope some helps I think it did for me. jeff

brianb
Posts: 3
Joined: Apr 2002

I have been feeling this way for the last eighteen years of my life, and that's what's got me. I can't get past the diagnosis either. I am still waiting for the other show to drop so to speak.

noelle68
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi Lia,
I'm a survivor too, I was diagnosed a little after you were, October of 2000, with stage 4 adenocarcinoma that had started in my small bowel and metastisized to the left ovary and the lymph nodes. My diagnosis took 11 months, they told me that I had irritable bowel syndrome had me on all kinds of drugs for that, a special diet (that actually seemed to help so they figured they were on the right track). I started throwing up in April of 2000, but it took them till October to finally do a small bowel xray, which is what found it. I was in the hospital 12 days, I'm pretty sure I was close to dying though no one ever said that, but the amazing speed with which they threw me in the hospital kind of hinted that it was pretty serious.
I had 6 months of chemo and then they figured it was 'wait and see', and everything seemed to be going well for a while, and then I started bleeding. I thought it might be menopause, they did some tests, ultimately an endometrial biopsy, and there it was again. So this past Feb 20th I had a total hysterectomy, and this time they KNEW they left some cancer in me, so I just yesterday finished 6 weeks of radiation, with continuous chemo along with it (continuous chemo is a pump I wore, that's connected to the med port in my chest, that pumps chemo 24/7 - not fun)
I know what you mean about the emotional healing. I don't think I'll ever be the same again. My priorities have totally changed, I'm impatient with all of life's little B.S. stuff that other people seem to be preoccupied with. It's a journey I'm on that has changed direction drastically from what I had planned, and I"m trying to adapt. I've been told by the doctors, at least by the radiation oncologist, that this probably won't cure me, my cancer is very aggressive, has already metastisized twice and likely will again. That was NOT easy to hear, but the doc is honest, at least. My regular oncologist is more upbeat, says one never knows, everyone is different, etc, etc. I choose to listen to him!
But life will never be the same. I will ALWAYS be a cancer survivor, I will ALWAYS have this hanging over my head. Emotional healing is difficult. There are people in my life who I know love me, who just can't talk about my cancer. As of now, today, just because I've finished treatment, they're acting like I'm cured. I've learned not to share feelings with them, they can't handle it. I'm in a cancer support group that helps a lot, it's both survivors and caregivers, and it's a great resource. I also talk a lot to the case manager assigned by my insurance company, believe it or not. She's a nurse who has a lot of experience dealing with this and has turned into a friend who really understands. And I"m lucky that I have a best friend I can talk to, even though she lives in another state. If you'd like to email more, you can write me here, or at noelle68@hotmail.com.
Chin up!
Lynne

bbxena
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2002

I feel as if you just wrote the story of what I am going through now. I was diagnosed in March of 2000 with endometrial cancer and it was staged 4B. I underwent surgery and 6 months of chemo and also lost my mother half way through. I had my last treatment in Aug of 2000 and got the call on Sept 10th with the results of my CT scan. It was gone...not in remission but GONE. I dropped to my knees and cried and then I was in shock. I was given a new lease on life and I didn't know where to go next. I too am without a clue at this point. It's the same here with the phone calls stopping and the attention is gone. It seemed as soon as I got back to semi normal that everyone else forgot what happened leaving me feeling alone in dealing with every emotion that can be thrown at you. You are very right that no one can understand unless you have been there. I am new here and could use a shoulder and a friend to share. I would love to hear from you and maybe we can help each other get through this. You may e-mail me at bbxena2001@yahoo.com. Maybe we can get on the road of emotional healing with help from each other.

A New Freind?
Brenda

angel7296
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2002

Hi Lia. I know exactly how you feel. I'm a CML survivor for 6 years now and, like you, I didn't know what to do with myself after I went in remission. The only suggestion I really have for you is to just keep living! Go back to work if you can. Help others as well. Give back to others what was given to you when you were needy. Life is meant to be enjoyed and in order to enjoy it one must be a part of it and fully participate in it. At this moment, I'm back working full time, am going to college part-time, and and just being the best me that the LORD will allow me to be. To have a chance to live again is a wonderful gift, Lia. It's meant to be enjoy. Why deny yourself that pleasure after what we both have been through? If you want to write back, I would be happy to have you as a friend. The LORD only knows how much we need them. Sincerely, Angel7296

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