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Where do I go from here?

awparkison
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2021

I'm 45 and was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer 12/23/20. The folllowing January I had a sigmoid resection and as of today have completed 9 of 12 rounds of chemo. For the most part I have been pretty well all things considered. Lots of fatigue, cold sensitivity, and I am now starting to feel neoropathy in my fingers and toes, but no nausea thankfully. I've been emotioanlly rock-solid until recently. I'm to a point where I'm starting to question all of this. I'm feeling guilty for being a survivor (so far). The thoughts of reocurrance, should I be declared NED, is a constant concern. 

This September I'll have been happily married for 20 years. While we have no biological children of our own we have a 8-year-old (almost 9) adopted son. He's been ours since he was three and is a constant joy in our lives. The reason I bring this up is that my father died when I was 14 and he being 75. I watched him suffer through the after effects of two different strokes and emphesema for years before he passed. We were not close and he was not a caring father. He provided for us sure, but there was absolutely zero emotional bond between us. I don't want that with my son. My son and I have been very close, but as my experience with cancer progresses I find myself pulling inward, whether to try to avoid hurting him or myself I don't know. Probably both. I know on the outside that my pulling back is actually a negative experience for my son, but some days it's so difficult to be positive, and some days I have to just let all the frustration and worry out. I know not to project that to my son, but it's difficult to be interested in him on these days. It's hard enough just getting through the day. I don't know how to reconcile my emotions on these days and still be a positive role model for my son. 

Anyway, six more weeks, three sessions of chemo left before life goes back to normal? Will it ever be normal again? WIll I ever not think about cancer on a daily basis? Where do I go from here? I already feel guilt for being a survivor and I haven't even finished chemo yet. What will it be like then? 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5513
Joined: Jan 2013

You are definitely expereincing the Cancer journey. Everything that you are feeling, physically, emotionally, socially, are all normal for those of us who are travelling this path. 

There are several answers to your questions, depending on who replies. Each is of value, and it is up to you then, to follow the advice that relates to you as an individual. Nobody can, or should, tell you how to handle your life. Advice, experience shared, then basically, you're on your own to try what sounds good, and if that doesn't work, try another.  

So, saying that, my first thought, when you mention how you don't have the energy sometimes to put your son before yourself is, 1st. If you don't take care of your own emotions first, there will be none left for your son. While I am quite sure your little boy is NOT being neglected by you, or his father, you are feeling delicate, and thus, probably feel that you are hurting him. 

2nd, have you tried Meditation?  It doen't work for everyone, but I believe it is definitely worth giving it a whirl.  I am (was) a higly active, almost hyper, person, and when I was introduced to meditaion, during my early chemo days, I thought 'Nah, I'm not the type'.  Well, I got desperate enough to at least give it a go. Low and behold, it was LIFE CHANGING. Utterly life changing. 

As a Stage IV patient, I can't really say how you will handle life, going forward, hopefully always being Stage III, with no recurrence. I am sure that it will take several clear scans, before you start to feel that maybe, just maybe, this is all behind you. 

Take it one day at a time. Try not to look too far ahead. While recurrence is something that will dog your thoughts, don't let it control your thoughts. 

I am surviving Stage IV at this time. I have bouts of survivors guilt. I allow it to wash over me, but I do not allow it to control me.  Maybe, if you find this is really becomming an issue, try allowing yourself, say 10 mintues of feeling this way, then move on.  When I was at the beginning of my journey, the dark thoughts of death and leaving my children behind, became all-comsuming. Not healthy! So, I allowed myself 10 minutes each night, to sink into that pit of dispair, then I put on my soothing music, and pulled myself up and out. Worked rfor me. 

Stick with us here and we will stick with you.   This really is a super little community of Cancer patients and caregivers at every level. 

Other's will be along soon, to share their thoughts. 

Tru

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1171
Joined: Aug 2013

Welcome, Tru covered stuff fairly well, I'll add that you should read my back story as the starts are very similar, and I hope your prognosis smoothes out a whole lot quicker than mine did. Give yourself a little more time with the chemo and the shock of all this before you get twisted up by what you think is happening in your relationships. Your almost through a lot of the harder beginning stuff, even if you're NED from this point on. Adjusting will come, you'll find time for your child, and find ways to cope with all sorts of feelings. Life is different once most hit this path, but once the anxiety subsides a bit, if you're at all like I was, you'll be a whole lot more emotionally connected, in some ways, a lot more aware of precious time, and who and what really matter in your life. None of those feelings you mentioned ever went completely away for me, but they did quiet down, they did recede to the background noise that is part of my consciousness these days. I hope it all goes well and evens out for you with time and a clear [NED] future, from here.....................................................Dave

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

While your son may be young, he is still old enough to understand "I am not feeling well today".  You don't have to tell him why, but just letting him know that you are not pulling back or ignoring him will help.

Perhaps he might even want to help you on those days...reading to you...getting you a pillow...anything which allows him to contribute and make him feel needed and wanted.

A cancer diagnosis changes our world forever...there is no undoing it...even if/when we get to No Evident Disease (NED).  Life becomes an adjustment every day emotionally and physically.  The best we can do for our loved ones is to let them know that even on our worst days we love them and care about them.

Wishing you the best,

Marie who loves kitties

annie4145
Posts: 218
Joined: Jul 2018

I had a 10 year old and a 12 year old when I was diagnosed stage 3a three years ago.  I got through treatment, and am still NED at the current time.   It does get better.   Although you are low energy now, your relationship will get back to normal after you finish treatment and get back to normal life.  I agree with the poster above, that you can just let them know that you aren't feeling well.  I have to say that I didn't let my 10 year old know at the time, all the potentials that could arise.  (My 12 year old was aware.) I feel that is the best not to worry them more than is necessary.   Your hospital may have counseling or family therapy that might help.  I started on anti-depressants for the first time after diagnosis, and it helped me.  After you get done with treatment, and you get to the No evidence of disease status (NED), I think that you will get back to your old self. 

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