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what next? HELP!!!!!

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi everyone,
I am now in remission and will be done with chemo in another month. I have stage IV rectal cancer, diagnosed 3/04. I am really struggling with what to do next.
When I was diagnosed with cancer I was in the process of separating from my husband, working on a masters degree in marriage and family therapy and getting ready to go to work full time.
I am currently separated, out of work due to chemo and not finished with school due to cancer treatment.
I find myself feeling stuck because I have no clue what the future will bring. Do I continue on with my old goals and attempt to finish school? Do I change my goals and set new goals? There are so many things involved that I'm making myself nuts.
My question is: How did any of you make a decision about your future when you had no idea what to expect as far as cancer coming back or not? I realize that my situation is unusual in that I have no established career due to being a stay at home mom for many years.
What tools have you used to make these decisions?
Any help that you can give me will be appreciated!
Sorry this is so long and I know it probably seems like a strange topic given that I am in remission.
Thanks,
Jamie

scouty's picture
scouty
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Jamie,

Never apologize for a post when you need some ideas and help. That is what this site is for!!

I can really relate to your post. Now I did work for 25 years at a company and was very fortunate to have some good benefits that allowed for pension disability pay to compliment social security but I had to retire early to get them.

NOW, I too am NED and being told I am too heathly to be on disability and need to find another job. I think about what I want to do next all day every day. I know what I used to do, but now it just doesn't seem to feel right deep inside of me.

I will continue to ask God to help me with my searching. Listen to your soul, it will tell you what you need and want to hear. Rejoice in the message.

Lisa P.

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Lisa,
Thank You for your response.
My therapist told me pretty much the same thing that you wrote. I keep thinking that I have to make decisions quickly because time is important. Maybe I need to just slow down and not worry about making a decision quickly.
Good luck with making your decision and finding the job that you want!
Jamie

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi Jamie,
This is not a strange topic for someone in remission. I think it is totally normal to have these thoughts and feelings. I know I have. It has been a while since I have been NED so finally now I am starting to feel comfortable making plans, but there are some things I am still afraid of, like the idea of getting pregnant! I am 36 now and will turn 37 in May so I feel like my biological clock is ticking and I have been struggling with the idea of trying to get pregnant. In a way I am like, well, now I CAN if I want to, but am I READY? Should I? I kinda feel rushed now because before it was not an option due to my treatment and all, but I am still scared. I keep thinking, after my next appointment then I guess I'll try......So, I know what you mean in a way, although our situations are different. I worked the entire time I was being treated, so I did not have to face the job thing and my boss is also a cancer survivor, so she was very understanding and supportive.
I guess you just have to do some soul searching and decide if the things that you wanted to do before are still important to you/ or not? However like my psychiatrist told me it is OK to go ahead and make plans, don't NOT make plans because you are afraid something could happen in the future. Your goals may be different now, but I think the important thing is to HAVE goals...
You just have to assume that the cancer is NOT going to come back and go on with your life. That is all you can really do.
They say the more time goes by the easier it gets, but honestly, I don't know when it gets easier cause I still worry, but maybe after something like 5 years it does, LOL! I just try to relax and realize that YES I am ok. Maybe you could set some goals for the next 6 months and start there. Then make longer term goals as you go along. I hope that helps.
Best wishes,
Susan

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Susan,
Thank You for your post. I think we are all struggling with making decisions although they are about different things.
Good Luck with your decision about trying to get pregnant. I understand why you are scared. Having a child is a life altering decision. I have seven children ranging in age from 14-28. It's interesting that that was one thing that I didn't have to think about. Every thing else becomes a major decision. I knew that I wanted a large family and just went for it. I believed it would all work out in the end. It hasn't always been easy, but I would do it all over again in a minute! I hope this helps.
Take care,
Jamie

vinny3's picture
vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

Congratulations on your NED status. You may return to your old goals or form new ones. It is important to do things that you enjoy. When we meet the beast we all think about what to do with the rest of our life. You need to plan that you have many years left but enjoy each moment as it comes.

Good luck with your decisions.

Dick

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Thanks Dick.
Take care,
Jamie

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

This is an issue I have thought about and struggled with a lot. As Vinny says (and others), I think there are two separate but related issues. The first is: are the goals/plans you had before your diagnosis still the same goals/plans you have or want to have now. For some of us, they stay the same. For others, major life changes are involved. The other issue (and the one I have struggled with more) is do we dare to make long-term plans, with our history of cancer and (for some of us) the sword continuing to dangle above our heads. My own philosophy is that we MUST. We must assume that we will live a deliciously long life! As all of us know too well, plans can be cancelled at short notice when it is necessary. As I said, this is my philosophy -- but I'm not always so good at following it. I'm very good at agreeing to go on a trip (yes!) but bad at buying clothes, for example -- I wonder if I will get my money's worth! Just this week, as I beegin chemo for the 3rd time in 4 years, I 'forced' myself to buy two nice new shirts -- it was my commitment to the future. Are you still drawn to the field of marriage and family therapy? I bet you'd make a wonderful therapist/counsellor....Good luck to you as you wrestle with these important issues. You are not alone.

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Tara,
Yes, I am still interested in marriage and family therapy! The reason that I am questioning it is because of the time commitment and the cost. I only have 4 classes left, but I have to do 450 hours of fieldwork to graduate. 175 of these are hours that I will be repeating because they have expired. I would have to start looking for a fieldwork placement now for next fall. This involves applications and interviews and a major commitment. It's like having a job without pay. I'm not sure that I'm up to that right now.
I was all set to take 2 classes last fall and ended up having surgery and going back on chemo. Unfortunately my experience has been that every time I make some long term plans that are important to me the cancer returns and my plans are cancelled.
Yes, plans can be cancelled at short notice, but the disappointment and loss of hope that I have experienced afterward have been devastating. The other side is that without hope and something to look forward to there is no quality of life. I recognize this and have made plans to take my two youngest daughters on an Alaskan cruise next August. It's the everyday things that I am struggling with.
Maybe there just isn't a good answer or at least not one that will satisfy me!
I'm sorry that you have to go back on chemo, but really happy that you bought yourself two new shirts!
Take care,
Jamie

nanuk's picture
nanuk
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

you have to go on as if you never had cancer, regardless of what decisions you make; otherwise the worry about what might be next, etc can be paralyzing. One day at a time, but never backwards..

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Thanks Bud! Great words of wisdom. I think that helps a lot of us, not just Jamie.
Take care,
Susan

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