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Long-Term Psychological Effects

Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2007

So I feel kind of petty posting this when so many people are still actually dealing with cancer, but I was hoping some of you might be able to provide me with some insight on my situation.

I was diagnosed with ALL when I was 17 just before my Senior year of high school and I reacted well to the chemo treatments, all things considered. There was probably only one instance in the 2.5 years that I had treatment where I was close to death. However, my inability to deal with what was happening to me led to a very serious viocdin addiction, where at my worst I went through 120 pills in about 48 hours.

Long story short, I'm now cancer free for 2.5 years, and its been just over 5 years sine my initial diagnosis; I'm back in school and I have my life together for the first time in while.

The thing is, now I feel like I'm going through a midlife crisis of sorts. I keep thinking about an article I read shortly after I was diagnosed that said 60% of people with my type of cancer die within 5 years. My odds where never that bad, but I keep thinking about that article and also a young man I met in the hospital who was around my age and who died, even though his odds were really good to begin with, just like mine. I've been feeling like I need to do something great with my life to justify my survival, but I wouldn't really classify my feelings as survivor guilt, because I don't feel guilty about anything, its just that these past experiences have been motivating me a lot more than they have in the past. I've been trying all these new things, some small and some big, I quit my job even though they offered me more money and promotion, i just want to get out and experience things and try to make a mark in the world.

I never felt like this in the first 2.5 years after my treatment ended, and I'm just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience.

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

I posted a reply under Long-Term Effects, check it out! I think it is great that you quit your job! There are more important things out there - you just have to go find them, and do them.
Take care,
Susan H.

manna1qd's picture
Posts: 48
Joined: Dec 2007

Whatever you feel is valid. Your feelings are important. Sharing them is wise. Even though I am older than you are (47!) I am grateful for your topic. I have felt many of the same things. I was very scared until about three years after I was cancer free. Then I started to think about the rest of my life. One thing unique to us is that we want to think about the future (especially as young as you are) but we are hesitant. Instead of thinking we are immortal, we know by experience we are not. I think that puts a young person like you in a different situation than most young people. From time to time, I read books, talk to a counsellor - things like that to reevaluate my priorities and make sure I live in the moment while planning for the future. You sound like you are going through some common phases of dealing with cancer. I relate to your terror. You have come so far from that time, despite your difficult situation. Keep believing in yourself. Despite any statistics, you have the rest of your life ahead of you. The better you take care of yourself, the better life you will live (quality and quantity)

Posts: 16
Joined: Jun 2005

I have had similar thoughts about wanting to make my mark on the world. I would be willing to bet that you already have made your mark. I am willing to bet that your family and friends and others that were there during this period in your life have been affected by your courage,determination,and unwilligness to give up, no matter what the odds. I would be willing to bet that you made your mark with these people! I am glad to hear that you have taken a positive role in living the life that you want to live. I would also be willing to bet by taking this positive role in your life you have made your mark on the people around you once again. Good luck and I hope you find what your looking for with this new view on life. Jason

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