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Feel like a fraud.

Readingqueen
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

I had a bad cough that wouldn't go away early in the year. Finally had a chest xray the end of June. As I'm sure you are all aware, because there was a "suspicious" spot many tests followed. Finally, I was diagnosed with malignant lung cancer in my right middle lobe. I had surgery to remove the right middle lobe on August 20th of this year. Nothing in lymph nodes and it looks like they got it all. I have had some pain issues related to nerve inflamation, they also broke a rib, and I developed a DVT in my left leg that requires I take coumadin for several months. But, the cancer, the reason for the surgery was a great success. I will continue to see my oncologist several times a year and hopefully it will never return. But since it was only months from discovery to successful surgery and there was no chemo or radiation, I hardly feel as if I had cancer. Although my fears of it returning are the same as other survivors, I had it so easy I feel like an imposter. I haven't suffered like so many with cancer have, and I'm so grateful for that, but at the same time I feel like a misfit: I don't belong in cancer survivor community or with those who never had cancer. Has anyone else felt this way?

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

You are a survivor. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a survivor is a survivor is a survivor. Or how about Shakespeakere: a survivor by any other name is still a survivor.

Do not apologize for what has been a successful experience with cancer, my friend. Instead, sing to the skies every chance you get! Let people here and elsewhere know that a diagnosis of lung cancer is not a death sentence! Be a beacon of hope.

Besides which, broken ribs portend invasive surgery, and having had the dreaded blood clots myself, I know that they are no cup of tea.

Celebrate! Congratulations on your minimally painful experience, readingqueen, and may your future visits with OncoMan prove to be just as positive.

(By the way, the very fact you continue to worry about it is something that you may carry with you for a very long time, another survivor wound, although one not seen easily by others.)

Take care,

Joe

Readingqueen
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

You are correct. I need to work on converting that knowledge into actions. Thanks for your kind words of understanding.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

You are a cancer survivor, period.

When telling your story you should proudly state that you are a cancer survivor. If you choose to add details you could say, "I was very lucky, it could have been worse because...." I think your story is important and needs to be told. There are a lot of cancer survivors in this world who were detected early enough to avoid treatment beyond surgery and that is a reason to rejoice.

In my case it turned out not to be cancer (after MUCH testing) but that doesn't mean I never will get cancer. Therefore I personally I feel inspired by your story. It's great to know that cancer doesn't always mean extended treatment and it sure as heck doesn't have to be a death sentence.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Readingqueen
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

I am happy to hear that your tests showed no cancer. I know all the testing is not fun and I'm sure there was a lot of stress and anxiety during that period.

In telling my story, I almost felt that I was revealing a terrible secret and I'm so glad that you and others understand the feelings and didn't judge me poorly.

I'll be sure to let others know that cancer is survivable with good medical treatment.

Thanks again.

Readingqueen
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

I am happy to hear that your tests showed no cancer. I know all the testing is not fun and I'm sure there was a lot of stress and anxiety during that period.

In telling my story, I almost felt that I was revealing a terrible secret and I'm so glad that you and others understand the feelings and didn't judge me poorly.

I'll be sure to let others know that cancer is survivable with good medical treatment.

Thanks again.

Laura88
Posts: 47
Joined: Oct 2009

Hello Readingqueen:

I was diagnosed in May. Unfortunately for me it was also in lymph nodes so I was not a surgical candidate. I went through 18 weeks of chemo and 8 weeks of radiation. I just finished. I was very fortunate -- I had limited side effects from both chemo and radiation. Like you, I would often feel very guilty when I met people going through the same thing who were sufferring. Then I worried that because I had limited side effects the treatment was not working. Even though I had two scans that told us the tumor was shrinking, I would still feel afraid treatment was not working and guilty that I was doing "better" than others.

I realized after time that this was a gift -- depending on your belief, God or a higher power, I used this gift to give some hope to newer patients coming into chemo for the first or second time. It was good for them to see that treatment varies from person to person.

Please do not feel guilty. We are all survivors -- and I am willing to bet anything your surgery was no cakewalk -- never mind the emotional pain. You already have a gift in that you realize how lucky you are -- please use that to pass on to people who are just diagnosed. Perhaps your story will make someone with a cough get a chest x-ray and get diagnosed early to avoid the whole chemo/radiation nightmare. I was symptom-free with the exception of a cough. I have wondered many times what would have happened if my disease was caught sooner.

Please stay well. And please don't feel guilty -- just feel fortunate.

Readingqueen
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you for sharing your story, Laura88.

I hadn't identified the feeling of guilt, but you are quite right. It seems I should have suffered more in order to have this "badge" of cancer survivor. I am grateful that this was discovered early and I had such a wonderful medical care available. I guess there does need to be more telling of stories such as mine so people realize that a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. I can do that.

Thank you for understanding my feelings. That is wonderful to know I am not alone.

OncoSurge
Posts: 21
Joined: Oct 2009

I would encourage you to not "feel like a fraud". Every Thoracic surgeon dedicated to the focus of thoracic cancer hopes for early detection and successful treatment. Currently, too many patients with thoracic cancer do NOT get treatment from dedicated/focused thoracic surgeons and/or suffer the consequences. Just make a google search on the topic..... you will find an 11% improved survival if a "general thoracic"/trained thoracic surgical oncologist is your surgeon...

Early detection is also still lacking. You do not need to have a long drawn out battle to survive. The long drawn out battles are in my opinion an unfortunate and potentially avoidable sad tale. Lung cancer is too much the killer.

I wish you well. I encourage you to stay positive and keep up with your surveillance.

cobra1122's picture
cobra1122
Posts: 244
Joined: Jul 2009

Never in your life feel guilty because you have gain what many of us never will. You have walked the walk and talked the talk, so you are a SURVIVOR.
There are no words that I can relay to you to express how Happy I am for you, you are a survivor and can now wear that with pride.
I , myself, am on the other end of that spectrum, and I am not jealous, but rather elated for you. I pray that I can read more such stories before I reach my time. If you read my bio you'll understand that I have been a survivor/fighter but the outcome will be reverse of your. But I hope and pray that more people such as yourself (Survivors) keep up the battle against cancer and help keep the Medial Establishment on track, so that others dont wind up like me.
I ask people (survivors) like you to stand up and be counted, let your voices be heard and your stories be told. Let your words help speak when mine is silenced, You and others like you will be the voice of those of us who no longer can speak out. Dont be sad for me, as I am rejoicing in your Victory and the fact that another Family will have their loved one for some more time to come. You are a messanger, you can speak for those who no longer can, I dont want to pressure you, but you should wear a sign that says I am a Survivor and this is my story, make the life you have been given one that makes people aware there is hope, and others aware that more needs to be done.

Stay on this site and become a positive voice for those who have only heard negative, and share your story so others may have hope, so many lose hope.

Our Prayers and Best Wishes to You(SURVIVOR), your Family and Friends,
Dan and Margi Harmon

Mary_Fraser's picture
Mary_Fraser
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2009

i had much the same experience as you until about my 9th month and then my BP got wonky and I have terrific days and others where it's so high I have to spend hours lying down - I've had a small stroke so I pay attention to my BP now . But I was so happy to read your story and it has given me hope that things will stablize and I'll feel like you do again , Mary

pkaz53
Posts: 84
Joined: Nov 2005

Survivor's guilt is a common thing and not just with cancer patients,but trama crash survivors, etc...
I think it's a good thing that we can talk about our experiences and bring hope to others.

MadelynJoe's picture
MadelynJoe
Posts: 96
Joined: Sep 2003

Dan and Margi: Very good words. I'm glad I came across it. I am a 4.5 year nsclc survivor.

God bless you both,

Madelyn

MadelynJoe's picture
MadelynJoe
Posts: 96
Joined: Sep 2003

Queen: I am a 4.5 year nsclc survivor and I have often felt that I did not suffer like others I have encountered. I had VATS surgery to remove my lower right lobe and 2 subsequent chemos to ensure that there were no lingering cancer cells in my body. Although the chemo was very hard on me, I had a "day at the beach" compared to many others I know personally.

So don't feel alone, I have expressed this view many times in my cancer support group. You might want to find a good group and talk about your feelings.

Kind regards,

Madelyn

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