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What's next?

Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2008

It's been four months since my final chemo treatment and I should be walking on air. Scans after I finished were clear so for all intents and purposes I am cancer free. So why am I so angry and sad? I am finding there are definite limits one can do with one lung as opposed to two, and I will have to retire because I really can't do what I used to, but I'm alive, get to see my kids and grandkids and shouldn't that be enough? I know I am blessed and I thank God every day, but if one more person tells me how lucky I am, I think I will scream. I know everyone means well but aren't I allowed to grieve for what I've lost? Why do I feel guilty if I feel a little sorry for myself? This is not a major thing and I'm sorry to be whining when so many others are facing so much worse. I guess I needed to vent and you guys are the lucky recipients. I think I feel better already. Thanks for listening.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

I hear you. People that see us alive forget what losses we have to deal with. Changes in our body, our capabilities, our futures--well these are just a few of the losses we have to deal with. There are stages of grief: stuff like shock and denial, fear, anger, sadness, acceptance. We don't always go through them in order and we often repeat the cycle, especially when another loss rears its ugly head. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my absolutely best nurse in the world that I've EVER met, warned me that eventually my family and friends might move on emotionally and THEN I might really benefit from a support group. I was so sure I'd be "better" myself by then and I certainly didn't see the need when I was getting flowers, cards, meals, and phone calls. But sure enough, the day came when my husband wanted to stop hearing the "C" word and wanted me to move on. His eyes glazed over when the doc thought maybe I needed a biopsy on my other breast. Forget about reacting when they thought I had ovarian cancer and needed a big operation. And while he did give me a hug for the lung cancer announcement, he asked that the folks at work not make it such a big production this time around... you get the picture. He doesn't have cancer and doesn't want to go through it again. I don't blame him. Neither do I!!! But I don't get the choice. To keep things together I found an outside support system. Here, my church friends with cancer, the Wellness Community in town, these are my mainstays for support. I am happy for my blessings, but sometimes you just have to get with folks that understand and mourn the losses and take care of the cancer issues that nobody but survivors deal with. And while you may have to retire now because of current health limitations, keep seeing your doctor and pushing the limits up to what activity level he recommends. Mine requested I try to walk a mile every day starting with whatever I could do and work up to more. Yesterday I walked the three mile loop in the evening and did "spinning" at the Y (fast stationary biking) in the morning for an hour. It took several months of recovering and barely walking around the block before I could even think of going to the Y for a gym class. So mourn your losses, but keep in mind they may not remain permanent. Good luck!

Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2008

Thanks for the response. It's comforting to have your feelings validated by someone who has been there.

MadelynJoe's picture
Posts: 96
Joined: Sep 2003

Dear Lindy:

I am a 3 year survivor of NSCLC (surgery/chemo). I still have days when I mourn for my "other life" - the one prior to cancer. I agree with Cabbott 100%. You are most definitely entitled to mourn for your "other life". I found a good cancer support group which has been a wonderful experience for me and I've formed many good friendships. Another thing I would suggest is that you get in some type of pulmonary physical therapy (Your Dr. can guide you on where to go.) While I just had a lobectomy, I have a friend that had her entire lung removed and was in pretty bad shape before she began the pulmonary exercises. Now she says that she feels like a new person!

Keep the faith.


Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2008

Dear Madelyn,

Thanks for the input. I am looking for a support group because I think it would definitely benefit me. I live in NY state and we have a wonderful rehab hospital (Helen Hayes Hospital) that I went to straight from the regular hospital. I had eight days of inpatient pulmonary rehab along with physical therapy. Then eight weeks post-op I started outpatient pulmonary rehab 3 times a week. This was a wonderful experience and because of it I was able to get off oxygen. I still do the exercises and walk every day. Physically, I think I'm in pretty good shape or as good as one can get with only one lung.


Greggriggs's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Dec 2006

Lindy I feel for you.
They removed my left lung in 2006 I finished Chemo a year an a half ago give or take a month.
Yep people tell me boy you look great all the time. I miss the old Me an
I feel like I have cheated my wife . I try not to complain but you all know how that goes .
I wish they had a off button for my brain so I could quit thinkin Cancer all the time. I feel like I got cheated worked all my life an got to retire to go back an forth to the Doc's office . I'm like you lindy my scans all come back good so I guess I don't have the right to *****.
Lindy I walk a mile an a half a day I have learned that you tend to push your self more than you should. I also learned that we are all different recorvering from Chemo an surgery side affects . You have every right to feel sorry for your self . just keep prayin an An fightin an feel as sorry for you self as many times as you want.Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.
Hope you can read this ,guess thats what you get with a 9th grade education .
Hope all you days are better.

Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2008

Thanks for the kind words. It really does help to know that there are other people out there who have been through the same thing. I'm finding that the busier I am the less I think about cancer, but you are right when you say we tend to push ourselves too much. That has been the hardest thing for me. I am a New Yorker and I tend to do everything quickly (at least I did). Now I have to remember to move slowly or else I lose my breath. I'm learning to take things more slowly and this is probably a good thing. Don't feel like you cheated your wife. I bet she signed on for the long haul and is just thrilled to have you alive. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was forty-six. Although he did die from it, the six years he lived I wouldn't trade with anybody. I appreciated everyday I had him. I'm sure your wife feels the same, so stop beating yourself up. Hang in there.

Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2008

Lindy , I'm a 2 time lung cancer survivor. They removed 1/2 of my left lung and 3& 1/2 yrs later a little better than 1/4th of my right lung 2 different cancers. ( large cell and adenocarcinoma ) I never had chemo. That has been 20 yrs ago, but I still remember and still do panic when I go for my yearly x ray. I still exercise 4 times a week, mostly walking, but I do some weights. I'm 74 yrs old and still kicking. When I tried to find a support group, they (Scott & White Hospital in Temple Tex. ) sent me a letter saying that due to the nature of my illness there was no survivors in my area. so I decided I would just try to help as many folks as I could when I found out that they had lung cancer. I'm the only survivor, all the other folks that I talked to and helped are gone now.
So I just figure I'm pretty blessed in that area.
I never mourned for the loss of my lungs I was just so thrilled when they told me I had a chance to live.

We lost our only son to Glioblastoma 5 yrs ago and I guess I will always mourn for him. He was 48 yrs old. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him in some way or another.
Come on back and vent anytime as we all have to vent sometimes, and not everyone understands us lung cancer survivors.

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