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how do you continue to live with cancer without allowing cancer to be what defines you

tramoo2
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2011

i want to have an existence other than cancer.......
when people think of me i dont want the first thing to come to their mind to be cancer.
how do i exist to my own self without cancer being my first and main thought concerning myself......how do i enjoy this day, wheather i have cancer or not??????

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

I am not sure when you were diagnosed but this kind of thought you speak of here is one that comes up now and again with all survivors. At first it seems like everything revolves around cancer because you are in the thick of it after diagnosis with treatments and symptoms and side effects and new vocabulary you have never encountered before. It's overwhelming but a necessary stage in order to fight this thing.

After all that is over, initial treatments, then it's all about recovery and that takes time too so still you aren't free of thinking about cancer. But again, a necessary step.

Cancer is a long term process in several ways. How you choose to run the other moments of your life defines whether you are letting cancer run you or you run cancer yourself. Pick something you love to do and make sure you continue to do it, even for only a few minutes a day, so that some normality is kept. If you loved to knit before but find you are too tired to do it then just force yourself to do smaller knitting projects that can be done quicker and that will give you some reward and feeling of normality - something from before cancer days. You have to keep some of the 'normal' things that you did before cancer in your life still, even though they might have to be modified til you are better. That will help you get back into a more normal frame of mind.

Time will help settle things too, depending on your circumstances with the cancer. If you find that you are getting down too much and giving up things you enjoyed too much and cancer is taking over your life then I would suggest seeing a counsellor who deals in chronic illness to help you through rocky times. I have a counsellor I check in with once in awhile and I think that is healthy.

Remember though, cancer needs focus at key times, give yourself a break and don't beat yourself up for resting when you need to and taking the time to search out input from those of us who have been there and can help you through your journey with cancer.

All the best,

Bluerose

ceejay1225's picture
ceejay1225
Posts: 12
Joined: Aug 2011

I REALLY needed to hear that. I am awaiting to find out which kind of cancer I have, even as we speak. I should know this afternoon... I cried several times yesterday and told my husband that I didn't want that to be the "new" me. Your advice is really great! Thanks again!
CJ

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

Oh that 'new me' description ticks me off. We are the same people as we were before cancer but now we have to think of the experience as a learning one and not something that redefines us. Some people say cancer made them a better person and I'm not saying that isn't possible but again it's from what they learned from the experience not that cancer has any power over who we are. It's like any other trauma, you do with it what you will - can decide to succumb to it's negatives or learn from it and grow from it's lessons. Still, WE decide whether to change or not - the cancer has no power. You have to think like that.

I wish you all the best and with the support of your hubby and friends you will get through this. The diagnosis time is the roughest part with one day being fine and the next day you have a label. Still, one day at a time, maintain your identity in your own soul and fight this thing off. You can do it.

Oh the crying. I remember crying for days in the beginning, heck, it's a shock. Cry it out then focus all on fighting this thing. I hope you have some spirituality in your life too, that helped me a great deal. I had prayer chains going like crazy at a few churches and I know that's what saved me. Just sharing that it worked for me, in spades.

All the very best, keep posting on here when you need to there are lots of people here to help and support and validate you.

Blessings,

Bluerose

ceejay1225's picture
ceejay1225
Posts: 12
Joined: Aug 2011

.... thank you, bluerose! You are truly a blessing! I told my best friend this morning that I'm getting ready for the fight of my life (after the initial tears). I'm a very strong person and, yes, that's who I want to continue to be... I'm so grateful I found this message board.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

You are right, this will be the fight of your life but worth fighting for, right? RIGHT.

I wish I had this board when I was going through my treatments and diagnosis but sadly I was diagnosed back in the horse and buggy days so computers were not avaiable back then LOL. Well not to me anyways.

All the best, remember - day by day does it. Keep posting and someone will jump in and help you along your journey against cancer.

Hugs and blessings to you and yours,

Bluerose

ceejay1225's picture
ceejay1225
Posts: 12
Joined: Aug 2011

I so understand what you're going through... Hugs!

palmyrafan's picture
palmyrafan
Posts: 398
Joined: Mar 2011

I made a conscious, deliberate decision that "I have cancer, cancer does not have me". That one statement lets me have control over the cancer, not vice-versa.

I am back among the "active" set again. I was on W&W (watch & wait) for 8 years before I was told that the tumors had come back and I was being upgraded to brain cancer. I make a deliberate decision on a daily basis that I will focus on what I can do, not what I can't do. Just as with many others, some days are better than others.

It is a process that takes time. Remember you have a new "normal", whatever that is. Once I learned that I had a new normal, like it or not, the easier it was for me to not let the cancer be the totality of who I am. You will also experience the many stages of cancer; denial, anger, grief, acceptance, etc., some of them more than once. That is normal too.

If your condition allows, you might want to consider taking up new activities; sports, cooking class, book clubs, etc. where you can meet new people who don't know you. Then it is up to you whether or not they know about your cancer. Sometimes it is easier to be ourselves around people we don't know because they don't have a preconceived notion of who we are.

One other thing you might try if you don't already, is counseling. I have one-on-one and my husband also attends sometimes. We learn how to work through things that are affecting my daily life, singly and as a wife, mother and grandmother. My husband and I have benefitted greatly from counseling and we are glad that my doctors ordered it.

Give yourself time to be who you are and work through all the emotions and don't forget to take care of yourself too!

Peace,
Teresa

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