Cancer in college

Steph23 Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Leukemia #1
HI - I was just wondering if anyone else might be going through some of the same things I am, because I am feeling a little alone. I was diagnosed with AML while was I junior in collge. That was almost 2 years ago and with the grace of god, much help from friend and family, and a little luck, I am in remission. However, I feel like getting my life back and feeling normal again is even harder than being sick. EVERYTHING has changed. I will be 23 next month and a day doesn't go by that something reminds me of what happend and how I wish that I could erase that part of my life and pick up where I left off. Is this crazy? Do I need to "suck it up" and be thankful that I was given another chance? I am having a hard time with this and I would appreciate any help. Thanks. Love, Stephanie


  • LAK
    LAK Member Posts: 6
    I am a long-term survivor of childhood leukemia.
    Don't try to keep going back to normal.
    There is no such thing as normal anyway and cancer certainly isn't normal.
    Your life is forever changed.
    Try to see the good things about the process.
    You may have post-traumatic stress disorder or just feel different from others your age.
    It is hard to find friends to relate to.
    Find a support group or do some advocacy/volunteer work.
    You'll meet other patients/survivors.
    This is a nice place for help too.
    You may not be able to do what you had planned on before cancer-it's ok.
    Accept the change and try to find the lesson and growth in the experience and maybe you can do something important with what you have learned.
    I am cured of leukemia, but daily I struggle with latent effects of lifesaving treatment-pain. fatigue, an immune deficiency and the memories of what I and others have gone through.
    But I have become an advocate for cancer survivorship and am making the most of a bittersweet life.
    I wish you much luck and happiness.
    Take care...Lauren
  • bungowla
    bungowla Member Posts: 1
    Hi Stephanie,
    You sound completely normal, and I would never tell you to "suck it up." AML is what sucks, and your reaction is completely healthy and valid.
    I fought Hodgkins while I was in college (10+ years ago) and I found that my first year healthy, post-treatment, was emotionally the most difficult of my life. I had tremendous survivor's guilt and I also felt anxious about recurrence. I remember applying to grad school, and wishing I had a "Waged War Against Cancer" citation on my transcripts. I was angry, sad, happy, you name it. I really fought against seeing a therapist, but I can tell you that attending a support group for young adult survivors in remission REALLY helped me. You may want to see if there's a Wellness Community chapter in your area.
    All best,
  • Maria001
    Maria001 Member Posts: 3
    Hi steph! I've never had cancer, but my sister was recently diagnosed. I think you should continue on with your life. Take each day to the fullest. If there are things in your past tht u wish u had done, now is the time to do it!! God kept you a live for a reason, He has great plans for you!!! I hope you went back to college an I hope you never give up. Your a fighter and you've made it this can make it the rest of the way!! BIG HUGS >:D< You can DO IT!!!
  • tiggertoo
    tiggertoo Member Posts: 25
    Hi Steph - I am 35 yrs old and I was diagnosed with ALL 2 yrs ago. I spent 17 weeks in the hospital over a 7 month period. Then had radiation on a 18 cm tumor that was wrapped around my heart, which caused heart & lung damage. I can totally relate, despite the age difference and the fact that I am a wife & mother. I am 2 yrs from my diagnosis, yet I am still on disability, still unemployable and dealing with long-term and late effects. There is no question that cancer turns your life upside down. It makes you question your values, beliefs and faith. That can be a good thing -- but with everything else you are dealing with physically -- sometimes it is just tooooo much!

    I think "normal" can be defined however you want it defined. Each of us has to re-define it so that we can fit in it now, as most of us have physical, emotional changes to consider.

    I try to look at it like pregnancy -- a baby doesn't develop overnight and neither will your body return to it's pre-pregnancy state overnight. I think the same applies to cancer -- most cancers develop over time, slowly taking away nutrition and energy from the rest of the organs and cell in our bodies. Disrupting the normal workings of our systems. Eventually things get so out of whack that the cancer is discovered. Then to treat it we put high doses of poison in our bodies that kill both cancerous and healthy cells. This makes our systems even more out of whack (like the scientific terminology?) So once the cancer is gone, then we are put on "maintenence poison" ie: lower doses, but still enough to make it hard for our bodies to try to heal and repair the damage from induction chemo and any radiation and to also deal with any lingering side effects, late effects and new problems brought on by the maintenence meds. Our bodies have been thru an AMAZING amount of things -- I think WE ARE SUPERHEROS! To have made it through all of that and our bodies are still working!

    Despite all of this, I have talked with and met SO MANY long-term survivors who have gone on to have wonderful, fulfilling lives. They have married, raised children, returned to work and helped others along the way. All of this is possible for you too! The main thing to remember is to be patient with yourself...none of this happened overnight...getting well won't either. I HIGHLY reccommend seeing a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Most insurance plans cover these visits (call your insurance to verify and see if you need a referral) and all you need is a copay. I was diagnosed with depression several yrs prior to my cancer diagnosis, so I was already on meds and had a psychologist I could go right back into counseling with. I did not go back to her until I was out of my main treatment and was feeling like you -- where do I go from here, what do I do with these feelings I have, how can I make the best use of my time even tho I can't do much?

    I hope this helps...I am still taking things one day at a time...My new "normal" is WAY different that any part of my life previously. I know that in another 6 months, my definition of "normal" may change again -- that's the good thing -- you can keep changing it to fit where you are in your life, where you are in your healing and to achieve your goals. You don't mention in your letter if you have a church that you attend, but I found that for me, my faith was such an important part of my healing. I drew closer to God and feel that because of the prayers of many and the grace of God I was healed. You can also turn to your church for help. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. You should also go in the chat night you can meet people from all over the world, all changes your perspective to listen to others and to support them while they support you.

    Blessings & Hugs, Tiggertoo
  • danagirl61982
    danagirl61982 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, I am 21 years old and was diagnosed with AML as a senior in college. (Diagnosed December 2003) Being diagnosed at this age is tough because you are just about to start your life and all of a sudden all of your plans are halted. It is awesome that you are in remission. I am in remission too, but still have 2 more rounds of chemo to go before i am done. I really find that praying helps a lot. There is a cancer support group at my church too. If you feel comfortable, go talk to someone. I talked to a psychologist while in the hospital and found it really helpful to ease my anxiety. Also, yoga and meditation can work wonders. You are very lucky to be a survivor and maybe as time goes on the pain will ease and you can try to regain your normal life again. To tell you the truth, if it helps at all, I really wish I was in your position now! =) I was about to graduate college and am ready to get married and then bam! everything had to be put on hold. You are really blessed to have been in remission for 2 years, awesome job! I'd love to talk, feel free to email me Love, Dana
  • White392
    White392 Member Posts: 2
    Hey Steph - I was also diagnosed with AML in college. I was 19 and had just finished up my freshmen year at the University of Pittsburgh. Two years and two transplants later I kind of know what your going through. I'm 21 now and I'd hope to go back to school when my little bro starts college later this year. I do know that it's very difficult to relate to other people since we've been through so much. I never attended any cancer support groups or saw a psychologist for it, but I almost regret not doing so. I'd love to help you. Email me anytime.
    Love, Joe
  • niavas
    niavas Member Posts: 6
    I had just turned 22 when diagnosed with AML, and trust me your not alone. the medical bills alone help to change your life. and AML is rare in our age group and sex, do you notice that people you have known for awhile avoid you? like thier gonna get it or something, that can add to the lonliness. and people treat you like your so frail and weak. Its almost discrimitory.As for erasing that part of your life. everything in your life makes you who you are, even the bad. Can you honestly say any of yourclose friends have had the same experiance as you? the cool thing is that later on down the line if someone close to gets a form of cancer your gonna kinda understand what they are going through, and you can become empathetic to thier venture. hope this helps a little.
  • thudder
    thudder Member Posts: 2
    Hi-Steph23, I'm John and no your not alone. I have been in remission from All since 1983 and I still deal with my experience and emotions. Why because their my emotions. Certain things make me appreciate each moment and other days are hard because I am reminded about my cancer experience. I have learned to educate myself and turn to my supports. That isn't always easy. Feel free to check out my profile and I'll be here if you need a support. John

    Living life on lifes terms "Which can suck at times and other times cool and rewarding