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How do you find balance

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2002

This is my first time writing to the list, and I hope that you can provide me with some of your insight and experience. As a 7 year survivor (I was diagnosed and treated at age 16)I still find it hard to balance life as a survivor. I have read your stories about fatigue, weight gain, etc. and have many of the same problems- and don't really know if there is a way for me to live life as a "normal" 23 year old. Where do you draw your boundaries-how far do you push yourself, and when do you say: "I can't do that" or "I cannot do it now, or this way, but I will find a way."? How far can and do you push yourself? And how do you deal with the ups and downs of being a survivor? I am grateful for any responses.

Posts: 20
Joined: May 2002

Hi Peter:

Wow, you just asked the 65 million dollar question. I am a 32 year old who was first diagnosed nearly 30 years ago. And, of course, that was just the start of all that I've gone through involving cancer and late effects.

I don't know what all you have to deal with specifically, but I think we can all agree that we childhood cancer survivors are not "normal" and that we can approach being "normal" and it just seems to be right out of reach. But then again, I think about the people I know well, and I'm not sure I would call any of them normal. Not to get too philosophical here, but we all have our troubles and challenges. And there are a lot of people I know that I wouldn't even think about trading my troubles for theirs.

I recall being in highschool with so many people I knew full of angst, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders. I could see that I was fortunate, because when you've had to struggle to survive at an early age, you can cherish life like no one else. Is that normal?

No one can answer the question for you about how and when to push yourself. You have to become an expert at listening to your body, and in my opinion only half listening to the medical professionals. They have a lot of good advice, but they still know pathetically little about our radiated and chemotherapied bodies. I have been told so many you can't do this, and you can't do that. And many of these things were obviously to be avoided, while others were pretty unfounded. I think there are ways to challenge what you've been told, while still being smart and cautious.

Anyway, I don't want to go to overboard here. I am not sure this helps you at all, but I don't want to overwhelm the board here. Feel free to send me a direct message if you like. I think that connecting as survivors is very, very important on a personal and political level.

Best wishes,