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Mental/Life Outlook

Landranger25's picture
Landranger25
Posts: 207
Joined: Nov 2009

I went this morning to get my haircut and the 2 barbers at the shop of course were asking me how I was doing. They have both known me since I was a kid back in the late 60's. I updated them on my recovery assuming they meant the physical part which when anyone asks is how I respond but they wanted to know if it had changed my mental attitude. Was there any change in how I live my life. Is it more precious and sweet now that I have a second chance I guess. Unbelieveably I hadn't really thought much about that. Just wanted to beat the dang cancer and then try to get my life back to normal as quick as possible. I still have to do all the day to day stuff to provide for my family. Can't just head off to Tibet to find the meaning of life. Now I am wondering how any of you that are post treatment are feeling in this regard. As always, thanks in advance.

Mike

cwcad's picture
cwcad
Posts: 117
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Mike!!

Guys like you are my hero. Working through your treatments is a sign that you are much tougher than me. You have my admiration!

I don't know about finding the meaning of life after cancer but life certainly means something different to me post caner treatment than it did pre-cancer. In three years I went from a jumbo sized guy that never turned down a road job to a fellow unable to hold a job because of all the weight loss making me weak and skinny. Free of cancer is good. So that is better. But you asked how I feel? I feel like $hit if you compare it to pre cancer or what I thought or want to be "normal". I am not or will I ever be the same person. My body changed. It has been scarred both mentally and physically. Changing from a powerful large man to a weak, skinny, chemo brained waif. I am still coming to grips with the new normal. Acceptance has historically been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Much to my demise. The most truthful advice I have received came from my wife and it has proved to be the most difficult. She said..."Get over it." I continue to try.

fsdman
Posts: 51
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi cw,
I hear you loud and clear!I lost 65 lbs and I was a tough,NY street guy. Raised in a Sicilian area of Brooklyn.Now I am a skinny old man (62)who doesnt enjoy pasta now-I used eat it daily alsmost.I aint what I was. I used fling the grandkids around the pool.They rode the "papacoaster".But we are alive. I lost my older brother to NPC about 15 years ago.This new normal is better. I also felt like **** for a long time but I decided I would NEVER give up trying to improve.When the fatigue hits I give in but when I feel better I swim,lift weights work in the garden and I saw a muscle the other day on my arm. I still get chemo brain at times but I accept its gonna happen sometimes. I did 13 weeks of acupunture which helped many of my mouth issues and now I eat more things. Keep fighting .You will get stronger but we gotta work at it.I refuse to accept that I cant get back a lot. I really dont want all 65 lbs back.I know I can get much stronger but its gonna be hard. So what-after what we went thru the building back is easier.I dont think I got over it as much as I feel anger-I am going to get even by getting strong.The big C can kiss my a**.It screwed with the wrong guy here.Now is the time to really be a tough guy.Best of luck

MarineE5
Posts: 758
Joined: Dec 2005

Mike,

Good thread, as you mentioned, we get wrapped up in trying to rid our bodies of this cancer and sometimes forget to have our heads screwed on correctly.

I do have to say, that the main thing that helped me, was being at peace with myself and God. I put everything in His hands and did what I was instructed to do by the Doctors. I give Thanks each morning for allowing me to wake up and each night for allowing me to get through another day.

I have been a positive minded person, I tell myself there isn't anything I can't do except plumbing : ). I create more leaks then I fix. We all know that we will eventually die. I accept it now, didn't think much about it before. I tell myself all the time that I am going to celebrate my 100th birthday with the grandkids. This cancer just reminded me that I don't have a RED " S " on my shirt.

As mentioned, family and friends are always important, we notice it more now I think. The little things like a hug and " I Love you Pop-Pop " are worth so much more then the material things we have worked so hard for in the past.

We all have to deal with our side effects daily and it is our new normal, but we keep moving forward, to do the best that we can.

Thanks for starting this thread

My Best to You and Everyone Here

delnative's picture
delnative
Posts: 452
Joined: Aug 2009

I could go on about the changes that went on inside me, but I won't.
Instead, I'll boil it down to the essence: I don't sweat the small stuff anymore.
Hassles at work? Sh*t, man, I've beaten cancer. What do I care about minor annoyances?
Politics got you down? As a reporter, I'm in the thick of it -- but it's all a game. I've got a life to live and a God who's granted me more time than I thought I would have.
Money problems? Honestly, how much do I need? I do OK, and if I don't earn another nickel it doesn't much matter.
I'm alive. I have a wonderful wife, good friends, a fertile garden (that's buried under snow at the moment) and more blessings than I can count.
Life is good. Screw the distractions: I have a life to live.

--Jim in Delaware

Kent Cass's picture
Kent Cass
Posts: 1747
Joined: Nov 2009

Right now, Jim, I wish I could get as positive as you are. Reckon I do agree, fully, with your attitude, and perspective on the past and present. It's just that keeping it actively real in application doesn't always be the case, anymore. Stay just the way you are, Jim.

Marine- you and I dealt with it all the same way. I have found the mental struggle to be far greater in the aftermath of treatment. And for those others who find the same- you are not alone. The battle in treatment keeps one busy with the fight/struggle, and that seems to have been more all right with me than what I am now living. Still, just the fact I am living, does help to bring it all more into a correct perspective. Reckon it all just is as it is, you know.

kcass

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

i didn't have a change of mental attitude with my cancer. mine happened back when i was almost 25. i had just gotten my fanconis anemia diagnosis, and i started crying. i will never forget this moment, since he did not really have the best bedside manner, the doctor said, "why are you crying? you could live to be 50?" i am crying cause u just told me i have a serious genetic blood disorder, and half my life is probably over.

i fell into clinical depression. my brother passed from the disease a few months later. i got even worse. finally, i thought to myself i did not want to miss out on stuff cause i was too scared to live. seeing him die, just shy of 21 made me realize life is too short. i made myself do things i would not have. traveled to places around the world, tried out and sang second soprano in one choir and a huge chorale of 86 people (i miss that so much it hurts), and i made sure i tried to check things off my bucket list so to speak. I don't have many regrets. i am glad i traveled and experienced different things.

During my divorce and cancer i have also seen who my true friends are. i may not have more than a handful, but man they are awesome. some good family too.

i am working thru the issues of the chsnges to my body that cancer has made, and the emotinal scars i have from my ex. i will get there some day. we are all works in process. anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.

JGE
Posts: 50
Joined: Mar 2009

I can't imagine that most people wouldn't have some change in perspective after being diagnosed with cancer and then later being told you were "no evidence of disease". You have all the emotional extremes. Anger, disappointment, fear, relief, depression, etc. I have said on here before that the mental part of this whole horrific diagnosis is the worst part! You get through treatment one day at a time and then suddenly you wake up one morning and you feel different, look different and think differently than you have for an entire lifetime. But nothing else has changed around you.

So you try everything to try and get grounded again. You stop and smell the roses, see things in ways you never saw them before, and you ponder your future. Then reality sets in. The bills keep coming, you are back at work and the same old demands are on you. Family has needs and friends have expectations. Everything else went on without you during treatment and now if you want to survive you have to just jump back in and hold on tight. So much for taking your new perspective and traveling the world or setting out on a new adventure. Yeah right. Nothing changed for everyone else in the world around you. They are just looking for relief themselves from the extra burden they had while you were "getting better". You are still the guy that has to cut the grass or fix the leaky faucet.

For a while I was a little frustrated by it. I had thoughts of just running away and living a life where I just did whatever felt good to me at any given moment. But then I realized that that just wasn't who I was. I could have been doing that in the past but I chose not to. So I looked around at the life I had created via my own life choices and realized that I wasn't missing anything at all. Only difference is that I see life differently. Sure I made some changes. But mostly I just appreciate every day a little more. Instead of dreading cutting grass I think how fortunate I am to have a yard. Instead of *****ing about the leaky facet I try to focus on being lucky to have a house. It doesn't always work, but that's okay.

I really liked the ignorance I had regarding my mortality before. Never even a thought about life being cut short. Lots of "future" left. But I will never get that back. All I can do is try and appreciate today and if I end up angry or depressed... then I will try again tomorrow!

Landranger25's picture
Landranger25
Posts: 207
Joined: Nov 2009

Boy, you pretty much nailed it, at least for me JGE. I think the guys at the barber shop were looking for some deep insight or something from me and I couldn't really give them anything. My focus is my wife and daughter and I believe to my credit, many years ago changed my work schedule to 4-12 hour days so that I could have 3 day weekends. Friday's are kind of the day for my daughter and I and weekends for the family. One of the other guys at work told me he has taken a page from my book and has done the same thing with his 2 kids. My biggest burden through all this aside from beating the cancer was not that I had'nt made my time count but that I might be leaving my daughter with no Father and my wife alone to raise her. That was extremely tough to think about. I will continue with my family focus and additionally work hard at staying healthy as well as being vigilant against this cancer nemisis. Thanks all for your insight.

Mike

JGE
Posts: 50
Joined: Mar 2009

Landranger, I am jealous of your 4 day work weeks for sure. Have to admit, I take a lot more Friday half days out of my vacation time than before.

Sometimes if I get really involved in something that interests me, I realized later that I hadn't thought about cancer at all for a time. I really appreciate those moments. Distractions are wonderful. I really recommend finding something that takes your mind away, no matter what it is.

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2535
Joined: Jan 2010

Sweet, I am just heartbroken for you. I am so sorry about your brother and now, your struggle. I hope you can overcome the scars from your x as you will need all your strength for the C battle that doesn't end after trmnt, as you know. You are definitely in my prayers. You said you have a handful of good friends, that is all you need. I have about 5 REAL friends but they are all the friends I need. They are there for me thru think and thin. My family is also there for me and that is as important as the treatment to me.
CW, I cannot imagine anyone telling someone who is fighting/recovering from cancer to, "get
over it"!!!!! That is proof that they have no idea what we will/have gone thru. I litterally broke down and cried when I read that. I would never say something like that to someone EVEN before I had cancer!
All, the posts here are very good and a little different from each other. I can't say that I've gotten to the point where I think about what I want from life as I'm still in the fear mode. I fear it coming back so much that it almost cripples me. I know I can't live my life like that but for now, it is all I can do. I thank God everyday and night, not only for the time but for making me strong enough to get thru the treatment at all. I am thankful for each day but I still struggle with the reality of c each day also. I didn't have a life w/c and I have even less a life now as I'm still weak and tired. I have lost 70 pounds since my fight began in Aug, 09. That's not a big deal tho b/c I was way overweight anyway.
I do look at life differently and feel very blessed to wake up another day. It always bothered me when my husband grumped about stupid or little stuff, but it REALLY, REALLY bugs me now. Not just him, but anyone. I agree with "don't sweat the little stuff" and material things aren't necesay (but I've always felt that way, just more strongly now). I hope to get over the fear someday so I can really enjoy life. It is because of my strong faith in God that I keep going and the people on CSN are also a huge help. It is so good to talk (type) to people who understand my journey and I can understand theirs. I'm glad I join this site and I heop that each of you will also let it be a comfort to you. It really can make a difference.
Take care my friends and know that you are always in my prayers!!
Debbie

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

Thank you for your prayers. We all know as suvivors how important our frame of mind is. Mine was great thru treatment, and it is my struggle to get my focus back. I did not realize that it would be this hard after treatment. I was not counting on these lasting side effects. I seem to be in a bit of fear mode, thinking that it will come back, or that I will not get any better than I am now. That isn't really acceptable to me. I am having trouble processing that this may be my new existance. Also it bothers me that they never found my primary.

There are a lot of good and caring people on this site, and it has helped me to see that if others can keep going with a lot of the same problems I have, then maybe I can too. It is tough when you are surrounded by people who cannot fully understand what you are going thru. I feel like "normal" with those who post here.

cwcad's picture
cwcad
Posts: 117
Joined: Nov 2009

"I feel like "normal" with those who post here."

I could not have said it better myself, Sweetblood. I am in total accord with your statement. I truly believe that I have turned a corner and now can see my way through this.

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

"I truly believe that I have turned a corner and now can see my way through this."

Now that just made my heart sing. That's the most awesome thing I have heard this week. I lift my Boost Breeze, and make a toast, to better times 'round that corner!

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5865
Joined: Apr 2009

I really love hearing your positive attitude, sometimes it is just about getting uses to our new normal and learning how to enjoy our life.

Greend's picture
Greend
Posts: 679
Joined: Feb 2010

Sounds like you may be getting close to turning the corner yourself...am I starting to detect optomism? Be still my pounding heart... :>)

pk's picture
pk
Posts: 192
Joined: Aug 2009

I raise a glass to you, my dear. I may have something different in my glass than your favorite (Boost Breeze)but I am so happy that you are feeling more positive.
Phyllis

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2535
Joined: Jan 2010

sweet, I felt and experienced everything you typed. My fear was so strong at night that it seemed to consume my entire body and I couldn't sleep. I, like you, felt completely alone and I knew that no matter how much my family loved and cared about me, the could not truly understand what I was feeling and going thru. I, again like you, did not expect the long lasting effects either and I became very depressed over them. Reading your post was haunting b/c it is EVERYTHING I've felt. I'm sure the many others have experienced or are still experiencing the same things. I am still afraid. Not as bad as i was, but my fear is still there and I am not sure when that goes away. I'm also sure that this will get better, we just need to give it more time. I've never been a patient person but this has taught me, I have no choice in this matter. I would say to just keep your faith no matter what and try to stay strong. It is ok and quite normal to be scared and to question why as long as you get back to you. You're right about this site, there are a lot of great people here and we truly care about one another. So when you get down or discouraged, come here and let us help. You can always find someone here.
God Bless,

Debbie

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

Who? Me? Tell anyone I know, and I will just deny it. *walkin away hands in pockets, whistling* :)

stevenl's picture
stevenl
Posts: 587
Joined: Jan 2010

Whistle while you work. Work on feelin better. Just whistle while you work. Just whistle while you work.

ballonk's picture
ballonk
Posts: 54
Joined: Mar 2004

I can SO RELATE to this subject right now; and to almost all of what y'all have experienced. It's 6 years since my 2nd bout with cancer and the end of my radiation treatments.

I'm basically a fighter/survivor, a positive person, and in control of myself and my actions most of the time. I was before I was diagnosed with cancer and still am; but my optimism is now very guarded. I have learned to live in the moment and just "be" (most of the time). I pick and choose my battles very carefully. I continue to learn that I don't have a whole lot of control over anything. But I've never been able to get back to the person I was before my diagnosis (physically and mentally). I'm learning to accept that I never will. I don't like it; but that's just the facts of this disease.

I've got a good life but I find I'm struggling with how to move forward and "live". Not just survive; but live. To become the best human being I can with what I have left of me. And I have times when I feel like I take two steps forward and three steps back. Lately, I'm just feeling overwhelmed and sad.

I went to my primary care physician yesterday to discuss this with her and she recommended I start taking an antidepressant. I'm an anti-pill taker by nature but I've learned through this experience to give up trying to be a hero, trying to tough things out and do everything on my own. I have to admit that I need help - and it's been VERY hard and humbling for me. But in retrospect, it's been a good life lesson for me to learn and one I have to continue to learn. I'm also scheduled to meet with a therapist next week.

My doc says this is fairly common in a lot of cancer survivors; especially after we get several years out. Out of necessity we spend so much time and energy focused on the cancer treatments and all the physical and emotional turmoil and upheaval that goes with it. As you know, that is sometimes all-consuming. It is pretty exhausting fighting for your life!!

When the dust settles and we're still here; sometimes we need help in figuring out how to move forward and out from under the cloud of despair. I've done a good job on my own (and with the help of my family and friends) in making it this far. I'm going to accept the help that is being offered me so that I can make it the rest of the way.

I want to do my best and forget the rest!

Blessings, prayers and hugs to all who read this. It means so much to me to read all your postings and know that I am not alone. I am humbled! Thank you!

Kathy

Kent Cass's picture
Kent Cass
Posts: 1747
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank you for your post, Kathy. Only 15-months, I find myself in a waiting mindset for the next round. Your "When the dust settles..." paragraph does hit home, girl, as well as what follows that you wrote us. You are with us, and always will be. Thank you.

kcass

JGE
Posts: 50
Joined: Mar 2009

What struck me, Kathy, after reading your post was that you were 6 years out! I agree with everything you said, it is just that I am 1 1/2 years out and was hoping it would be better when I get to where you are. I can tell you for certain that if I am still as consumed with these uncontrollable thoughts of recurrence after 6 years, I will definitely be medicated!

You deserve relief. From one "no pill" person to another, do what you need to for relief!

(I too got a lot out of this thread)

ballonk's picture
ballonk
Posts: 54
Joined: Mar 2004

...guess I'm a slow learner! ;-)

I'm 6 years out from the second time I had cancer; 9 years out from the first time. I bounced back really well from the first time but the second time really hit harder. I've really wasted a lot of time these past years and if it means I have to take another pill for the rest of my life, then so be it. I'm turning in my my Superwoman cape; I'm so over it!

Thanks for your support; best wishes to you!

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5865
Joined: Apr 2009

I can relate to what you are saying I am now about 8 years passed my first and 6 years passed my second treatment. I think depression hits us all in one way or the other and we tend to deal with it the best we can and in many different ways. What I found that helps me was to Focus on something, funneling all my emotions in to one bag and leaving them there.

I have a lot of support from Family, Friends, and Church, and during these times I am great; it is when I was alone that it became a problem, so I now take that bag and give it to God. I find that I can focus on making plans for my future retirement and starting my own company now.

If the pill helps you then why not take it, it is great to be alive and not to worry anymore about the things we can’t control

Take care

ballonk's picture
ballonk
Posts: 54
Joined: Mar 2004

...I appreciate your comments. You inspired me recently to start posting here again. I quit posting a while back but occasionally lurked around the discussion boards. I read something recently that you posted about how important it was for those of us who were survivors to keep plugged in here to help others who are new to the process. I had never thought of posting here in that way. I came to this board in 2004, feeling in a crisis mode as I was finishing up radiation and scared about my future. When I felt better and in control, I quit posting. That was a mistake and I thank you for enlightening me.

I am hoping and praying to learn how to "give it to God" and leave it there. I keep taking it back and trying to "be the boss of me".

I am also hoping that taking medication is a temporary thing to help me stabilize as I keep my eyes, ears, mind and heart open to learn how to live a better life (physically, emotionally and spiritually) and understand God's will for me. Once I understand His will, I want to be able to act upon it in an appropriate manner.

Kathy

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5865
Joined: Apr 2009

I just read your other post, we both went through cancer treatment twice and we are still here that is good news in my book

I do believe that I am here for a reason, I don’t spell very good and at times my dyslexia makes my words come out wrong as I forget to add the S or get the i&e backward and some times put the words in the wrong place. But if somehow I can just bring a smile to the face of some one who is hurting or tell them something that helps them. Then all the pain of my Cancer was well worth the price.

I love this one scripture, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: I too would take the bag back from God it is hard to learn how to completely surrender yourself, but once you do you better understand what it is like to have Him in control.

It is all by Faith.

Take care and God be with you

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2535
Joined: Jan 2010

ballonk, I have also survived cancer twice and like you, this time scares me trrribly. The first time (cerical) I never gave it a second thot, they did surgery, i went for regular ck ups and that was that.
With this cancer (SSC - vocal cord, 35 rad trmnts), I am so afraid of it coming back. Some days it completely takes over my thots. I also have the depression. I have been on meds for that long b4 the cancer but it got worse with the cancer. So, like you I take one day at a time and I put all my faith in the Lord!! W/o my strong faith, and the people on here, I absolutely could not have made it. You are in my prayers and thots as everyone here is, but please hang in there and continue to post. The people here are awsome and I truly look at them as being family.
God Bless You,
Debbie

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