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Loss of identity-can anyone relate

wendyladi98
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

First of all I feel really guilty and evil for having these feelings so sympathetic non judgemental love will be greatly appreciated.
Me and my mom were fighting cancer together and she died in December. She really took care of me a lot before she found out, then I was her caregiver. I had such a warm caring supportive group around me. When you have cancer suddenly you are special. I know this is going to sound really sick and twisted and I am in therapy. Anyway, you have all this love and outpouring and are the sick one. Ct and blood is clear for me right now so technically I am a survivor. So now I am the one taking care of the family and getting back to the old routine and I still feel weak and wish I was being taken care of and frankly, miss being special. I don't have the freedom to be weak and sick anymore. No one is ready to jump in and take care of things because I am well. But I don't feel well. Also I do think it is a ptsd thing cuz I didn't have time to process everything, once I was in treatment, I found out my mom was gonna die and I took care of her and basically as soon as my chemo was over she went into hospice care and the week following her death I found out my cancer was back, and went through treatments this time with very little help and so I think I am probably a little bitter that the world keeps spinning no matter if I feel like it should or not, like kids still need getting off to school, there is no pause button for me to get myself together. Also once you are technically well the disability gets cut and you have financial worries. This makes me feel incredibly guilty for this kind of thought process but rationally I can see how someone can embrace the identity of cancer patient and it is hard to let go of. Does anyone relate to any of this? How do I embrace being strong and well, why do I miss having cancer? I mean just typing that last sentence I sound completely crazy! I wasn't doing very well before I had cancer so that could be it as well. Everyone hears my story and they are like wow you have been through so much how did you do it? and I have this blank numb stare because I am not really sure what they are talking about...it is like a dream. I don't really remember making a conscious decision to do anything, it just happened, and now I am in shellshock.
Thanks for listening.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1104
Joined: Jul 2009

My guess is that you don't really 'miss having cancer' you miss being looked after when you are sick and I believe you - you are probably far from well even still. That is something many family members and friends and even doctors sometimes don't understand. Just because the treatments are over doesn't mean our bodies have recovered fully and we feel that and have, sometimes, many side effects and possible lasting ones at that.

Many family members and friends feel that once the treatments are done and you have a 'clean' bill of health you should be back to normal and many of us simply are not. Radiation and chemo treatments are harsh, harsh enough to kill human cells which is tough on the body whether it's cancer cells or normal ones which get hit too sometimes. Takes a long time for the body to heal from all of that - not to mention the mind as well.

You insinuated that everything just happened all of a sudden and you don't remember making conscious decisions about this and that with therapy and many of us can relate to that too. Once the words 'you have cancer' are spoken it's like living in a fog and doctors start taking over your schedules and it's like you are just along for the nauseating ride. We on here can empathize with that.

I am really sorry about your Mom and the whirlwind of health issues you are wrapped up in, that's alot for anyone and for sure I am sure that you are not healed yet yourself, physically or mentally. As far as PTSD is concerned you would need to see a reputable mental health practioner to confirm that but I believe personally that many cancer survivors/patients do have PTSD and there are many studies out there right now looking at all of that.

My suggestion for you would be twofold. First of all I would get a good counsellor for you and your family/friends so that they can hear from a counsellor how your healing period might not be over yet and so you need help as well. Maybe go to the counsellor yourself for a few sessions so she/he could get to know you then bring in your nearest relative so they can see that you aren't just making up the fact that there is a way to go for your healing as well and you can't take on everything else yourself quite yet.

The second thing you might think about doing is contacting your nearest Cancer centre to see what help you might be able to access for yourself at home, maybe some help with housework or whatever you might need.

Many survivors feel as you do, as if they are just cut loose after the treatments are done and since they still feel unwell and might have side effects of treatment, fatigue and sleeplessness are two of the more common ones, followed by forgetfulness etc depending on your types of treatment. The survivors feel abandoned by the medical profession and as I said before those around them don't understand either. You will have to educate them and that won't be easy so that is why I am saying try to get a counsellor for yourself so that that person can then tell friends and family that it isn't all over for you yet with effets of the treatments mentally and physically perhaps.

This site is a good start for you as you will meet many survivors/caregivers who have been through what you are going through.

Again, I don't think it's that you miss having cancer, it's that you miss being taken care of when you need to be. Let us know how it all goes.

Blessings,

Bluerose

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