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I'm a survivor....now what?

stephd1108's picture
stephd1108
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2012

Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am a survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma (2b). After being miserably sick for almost two years, with no real explanation, I was finally diagnosed by an ENT. Although I knew cancer was a possibility from my relentless googling, I don't think anyone is really prepared for that news. Especially eight days before your 23rd birthday. Two weeks later my fiance ended our relationship, leaving me heartbroken and scared. I couldn't have asked for a better journey though. I have a loving family, a wonderful church family, and a new boyfriend that helped me get through the pain and fear. I finished treatment in May and had my port removed in August. I received my clean bill of health in July, with plans to do follow up scans once a year. This has been an amazing, and of course challenging, year that I wouldn't trade for anything, but as the 1 year anniversary approaches, I am having unexpected emotions flare up. The memories of monumental moments haunt me. I'm having trouble sleeping, focusing, and staying positive. I know I should be overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness, but I am struggling and I'm not sure why. I think that maybe I was so focused on getting through treatment and staying upbeat for everyone around me that I didn't have time to process what was happening to me. I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this problem or knows how to handle it

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 1984
Joined: Aug 2011

Welcome to this group where you'll find great, supportive and
non judgemental folks! Congratulations on your remission.

Your story is both sad and joyous. What you are experiencing I think is
pretty normal. I'm probably a lot like you in the sense that I tend to go into
a self defense, robotic mode when I'm faced with tragedy or crisis,
I deal with it and delay strong emotional reaction until later.

I think you hit the nail on the head in your statement about getting
through treatment and staying upbeat for everyone around you. You
have experienced a lot of loss all at once - cancer diagnosis, losing your fiance,
and the sense of loss (your self/life) during treatment. I'm no psychologist but perhaps you need to grieve over what has happened and "process" things. You have every right to be sad, angry and howl at the moon (within reason of course) :).

All of us here go through "scanxiety" before our regular follow ups/scans.
I'm told this gets better over time.

Don't beat yourself up for being human, Stephanie. I think you can work through this
but if it doesn't get better over time, then you might want to consider counseling
to help you. And of course, we're here too :). I'm sure others will chime in soon.

I hope things work out with that boyfriend - he sounds like a keeper ;).

Hugs and welcome again,

Jim

allmost60's picture
allmost60
Posts: 3155
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi Stephanie,
First off.."Congratulations" on your remission/clean bill of health. I can't imagine at the age of 23 being diagnosed with cancer...I was 59 when diagnosed. I agree with Jim that what you are feeling is normal. I think it takes years of remission before we will truely feel somewhat at ease with what we have gone through. If you continue to struggle with your emotions I would suggest talking to your doctor about therapy or maybe taking a mild anti-anxiety medication. I have 2 1/2 years behind me since being diagnosed and still have anxious moments. You are young and time is on your side. Just take things one day at a time...it will get better. Best wishes...Sue
Follicular NHL-stage3-grade2-typeA-Dx 6/10-age 62

vinny59's picture
vinny59
Posts: 1030
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi Stephanie, this is something that will haunt all of us for years to come, I try to use a simple philosophy, I can either enjoy the time that I'm cancer free, or let it consume me with thoughts of it coming back. I try living by the first, sure, I have times when I let that little voice in my head saying what if its back...., but I dismiss it by enjoying the time I spend with my wife and family. There was a time that I was going to talk to a therapist but this forum helps me out a lot... they are a great bunch of support that I can't get anywhere else..... Vinny

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 1984
Joined: Aug 2011

Well said, Vinny. A point to make is we're free and you don't have to
dress up or drive anywhere as well ;). Of course we are no substiture
for professional help when needed but we're a good bunch of folks.

Hugs

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1019
Joined: May 2012

Vinny,

Your attitude toward remission is the best I have ever heard ! Hand-wringing, while perhaps impossble to totally get over, is worthless.

max

1ladydiamond
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Hi my name is Patricia i was diagnosed in April of this year with Follicular b cell lymphoma stage 4 it does get so much better. I will never be out of stage 4 but they have scaled the lymphoma back and with you not being in stage 4 you have more yrs then you could ever imagine. I am so happy that your life got back on track and God is amazing and for the guy who dumped you because of this. karma has something for him. I have been on anew eating trend. I have been juicing and kale and pineapple juice with ginger and lemon and also protein shakes with soy milk not bad at all really i am feeling so much better my rituxan treatments are now every 8 weeks. I am still tired but your goal is not to get it to stage 4 if you can do that your doing good. Just thought i would share my thoughts with you and what i am doing also carrots juicing have to add honey etc but all natural. wishing you the best
Patricia

Sara11
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2004

Patricia, I would say live, learn to listen to your body, read food label, what you eat is what your are and run in sync with your soul's desire, yes, there will be doubts and as one person mentioned delayed grief work. I was diagnosed @ 17 and had a year old daughter, I thought I would not live beyond 30! Even so I finish high school one month after I finished my radiation (then it was very experimental, as I learned later)then I went to work as a nurse's aide and 3 years later I graduated with honors from nursing school which had been a childhood dream. I've learned a lot in my 44 years of survival, and especially a lot about radiation and from my patients a lot about healing. There is no going back to the innocence of pre-cancer, but there is the power of going forward with grace and courage and to take time to care for yourself when the going gets a bit rough. Sara

JoanieP's picture
JoanieP
Posts: 573
Joined: Mar 2010

Your message to Stephanie was beautiful. I have been a survivor for 3 1/2 years and I thank God every day for the way I feel. I try not to " go there" and think about it returning. I try to make each day the best I can and smile a lot and laugh as much as I can without appearing crazy:) If you are a Christian or not I would highly reccommend the daily devotional book "Jesus Calling " by Sarah Young. I have now bought 14 of them from Amazon and my cancer support group gives them to new members.
Getting your nursing degree is very honorable. I hear from friends it is very difficult. You will help your patients so much with your positive attitude. May God bless you and use you to spread your wonderful persona of grace and courage. Joanie

JoanieP's picture
JoanieP
Posts: 573
Joined: Mar 2010

Time will help you . There was a time I thought about Lymphoma every minute and now I don't think about it except in a passing moment. I try to live my life thanking God daily for good health, a great family and friends who mean the world to me. You will get there I promise. You are so young but with youth comes strength. Keep smiling, loving life, and constantly have a thankful heart. Blessings to you Joanie

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