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I'm Lost

Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2003

I'm a single guy, live alone, diagnosed at age 37, stage II renal cell carcinoma, right kidney, July 2000. Three days later I was in surgery for a radical nephrectomy, tumor, kidney, lymph nodes, etc.

It was all handled very quickly and matter-of-factly, no emotion, no tears. I never felt sad, or mad, or any of those other stages you're supposed to go through. Everyone thought it was best if we just glossed over it and pretended like it was nothing more than a tonsilectomy. My friends tell me that since I didn't need chemo that it's not like having real cancer anyway. Very few of my friends even thought it was important enough to come visit me at the hospital for the five days I was there. So I recovered from surgery and went back to work. My boss laughed when I used the term 'cancer survivor' once. She said 'cancer survivor' is when you've had chemo for years and years, not a simple surgery. I personally didn't think the surgery was so simple, but I have never used the term again.

The last three years have not been good... lots of alcohol, lots of time alone, I've lost my job, I don't talk to my friends or family much anymore. I've had one illness after another and to be honest I haven't taken very good care of myself. Not like i used to. I'm a robot. It's taken me a long time to realize this (i guess i'm no rocket scientist) but I'm really beginning to feel that maybe I've never dealt with the cancer, and I just don't know how to feel anymore.

Has anyone every encountered this? Is this normal? My friends and family didn't even want to talk about this three years ago, I don't know where i could turn now.

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2003

Digger, I just read your message and I want to cry. I can't believe what you went through 3 yrs. ago and nobody addressed the cancer? That just pisses me off something terrible. This is such a horrible disease and the feelings and emotions that stir up from it are amazing. You ARE a cancer survivor!! What was wrong with your boss? I have learned so much from this disease, especially who my friends are. Unfortunatly, mine are all in the south and for them it's a 10-12 hr. drive. But, all I have to do is pick up the phone and they will be here. I'm sorry, but being a recovering person, maybe you might think about an AA meeting first. Then address the other issues. There is a lot going on with you, and I don't want to see you or anyone for that matter fall into that hole. There are people out there that know what your going thru, so please don't isolate yourself. I'll be around. The emotions involved with cancer are unreal. The denial, hatred towards the disease, then slowly the acceptance. That comes real hard. Some people do not know how to react, what to say and they do disappear. Found that one out. Yeah, this a tough subject. Please, once again, don't isolate yourself. You need to talk about this, get it out and on the table, even if it was 3 yrs. ago. Just don't feel alone, because your not. Hope to hear from you.

Posts: 24
Joined: Oct 2003

You are not alone!!!!!!!, I have been there, I just went through it in January. Most of my co-workers have the same idea, but they realy have no clue, It's not just going through treatment that makes you a survivor, you are a survivor, you are the lucky one!! I changed my experence around and decided to help others in the reach to recovery program. I was 37 when I found my breast cancer, and yes I didn't have time for emotions either, I found mine in late November, and had my biopsy in late December, and was told right before the NEW YEAR, happy new year!!! I had my surgery two weeks later, it was a mastectomy and tramflap, a six hour surgery,and for me it was about 4 weeks recovery, normaly it takes 8 weeks. I kept a possitive out look and was glad to have all of me back, no lymph nodes and no other treatment. Yes alot of people feel that way, but maybe you can also help others . Be pro-acitive and live a healthy life, that means stop the drinking and staighten up don't let them get the best of you , be a better person . lots of love take care JAN

Posts: 12
Joined: Apr 2003

Facing Cancer, no matter what type or no matter the treatment is necessary. You need a support group. Probably one in your area through the American Cancer Society. Call their office at once. Your feelings have to come out. They always do, one way or another. I think you will find a group that has people that have been dealing with the emotions for years and can help you through this, being with commrades will give you a new lease on life. All the best to you. Please deal with this, with others in the same boat. Your life is waiting to be lived!

Posts: 79
Joined: Oct 2003

Hi Digger, I think you are a survivor. Anyone who has cancer no matter the treatment is a survivor.I was told that you are a survivor once you find your cancer . I think of your surgery as a major one compared to my lumpectomy.It sounds to me that you feel lost and very depressed. It sounds like you are trying to find yourself and I think that by just writing your feelings down ,you have made the first step to getting your life back.....Kittycat

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi. I'm a single woman and I sort of understand how you feel bcs I have been through the similar situation.

Last year, I was diagnosed as breast cancer and underwent surgeries twice. The surgeries and hospitalization were okay --I had to face the music, as a matter of fact, you know. Things came after all this, just like yours.

My doc told me I had two choices as the post-surgerical medical treatment; taking hormone therapy or do nothing. Patients in the situation like mine usually take hormone therapy (that's what my doc said) but I was not comfortable with the idea of being on unnatural way. Before I developed breast cancer, all I cared was nothing but career building, but cancer gave me a biiig wake-up call that I always wanted to be a mother of someone. That led me an answer. My doc gave me an entire a month to consider. I had totally occupied by thinking about it for the time period. My choice was, as you can imagine, "do nothing", no hormone therapy, no chemo, no nothing.

Some people say me taking no medical treatment was stupid, and worring about a baby who is yet to exist is even more stupid. Since I didn't go "chemo" or some other serious and critical treatment, some underestimate what I have been through. It was okay at the begining, because I don't want anybody to pity on me. I thought getting out of the hospital asap and behaving as if nothing happened mean "retrieving" my life, but it is just not it. After a while, all of sudden, I realized that I really had cancer, and I *was* and *am* a cancer patient. That made me devastated. Since then, tears burst unexpectedly -- when I'm driving, having a breakfast or lunch, or whenever that is. People died in front of my own eyes in a hospital. A lot of inner change happened. I became vulnarable. But people look at me the same way, hurting me with insensitive remarks. Frustrating.

All I wanna be is a nice person. And truthfully, a mother of someone. Not a career-centered snob.

What I am scared of the most now is not recurrence or methastasis itself. I'm scared that those thing happens even before I fulfill my dream, which is to be a mother of someone.
I'm horrified as I think about that.

I don't think I can emotionally support you, Digger, but at least, I understand how you feel...

Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

A lot of people are totally clueless about what it's like to have cancer, especially if it's at an early stage and you need "no treatment" besides surgery. But *you* have to remember that surgery IS a treatment, and not a little one. It can have lasting consequences, both physical and emotional.

Although it's said that men have trouble talking about their feelings, I think it's also true that other people have a hard time listening to a man talk about the kinds of feelings cancer leaves you with. The vulnerability, uncertainty... Coming here for support was a good start. You're on the right track. What you have been going through is "normal" given the conditions, but it's also "normal" to get sick sometimes. Be compassionate to yourself.

If this was helpful, and you want to correspond more, feel free to e-mail me at this website. In any case, all these replies show that there are people who are supportive. I wish you the best, and hope you can find more supporters in person.

Posts: 34
Joined: Oct 2003


Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2004

i dont'know where to begin? i can't believe your family and friends treated this as if nothing. yes be proud to say you are a cancer survivor! please take care of yourself. you've been given a second chance at life, many unfortunately can't say that. speak to someone anyone about your fears and what you went through. someone will listen! i just did :)

TheBear's picture
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Dear Digger,
I'm truely sorry that the people that you used to work with treated you like that. They are ignorant and insensitive and not worthy of a person of your caliber to have as a friend. My wife has cancer and like another poster said, you sure find out who your friends and family are fast. You've dealt with your cancer by beating it, but I sounds like the emotional aspect of facing, accepting, and dealing with your cancer was delayed. I tell ya what, when my wife was first diagnosed, hitting the bottle was tempting (I don't even drink on a social basis), I figured I was entitled to a good drunk to kill the emotions of fear at least for a few hours, but I'm glad I shagged the idea...you have to face your feelings sooner or later. You beat cancer and that's a victory that gives you bragging rights to your own life.
Please, don't cut yourself off from the world. You sound like the type of person that possesses inner-strength and the will to win even though you may not feel that way. You're here now, and that says something.
Real friends don't leave you in a time of need, they stick around when the chips are down and can't do enough for you because real friends love you unconditionally. I hope you find your way through this storm, bud. If anything, keep posting on this board--there are many people here that care. Even if we are only in cyberspace, it doesn't make our concern for your well being any less real.

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