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Happiness after cancer?

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2012

After a tonsillectomy and a second operation involving a TORS procedure and a radical selectivedeck dissection and 33 radiation treatments I am finally 2 weeks removed from cancer treatment. Before I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer stage 2, I was on the brink of getting a divorce. I subsequently lost my job over the course of the 6 months of treatment. So now I feel like I have a second chance to really be happy. Do other patients experience this? I'm questioning everything - I think I want to stay with my wife and be a better father, find a more rewarding career, build better relationships with friends and family... Basically live and appreciate life as sad and tragic and temporary as it is...and it starts by thanking those who helped me from volunteer drivers to my amazing doctors at Dana Farber to my wife who almost left me but found the courage to forgiveness in her heart to my children who helped me and gave me a reason to fight when it was the hardest to keep going.

For those patients newly diagnosted in my experienced the 6 month journey had some moments of terrific challenge. It's hard. Not being able to taste food, the weight loss, the lack of mucus, the pain... But I finafeel am starting to feel better. God bless.

fisrpotpe's picture
Posts: 1349
Joined: Aug 2010

you found your new normal, enjoy

now your on your well on your way to accepting it, proud of you for the great start. 

btw, it will all get better with time. 


welcome to a wonderful site, looking forward to seeing your future posts both helping others and sharing your continue good news. 



phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4673
Joined: Mar 2012

Gratitude for being alive and moving towards healthy does have a way of making us see things different.  What is truly important becomes clearer....Your epiphany while you were sick, appears to have made family the priority.....good for you!!


ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

Cancer is definitely life changing. It is up to each patient and caregiver to make the best (or worst) of the situation. After Tx, I've had good times and bad times. I hope both you and I make the most out of our situation. Rick.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4317
Joined: May 2012



Each of us had to go through the door marked “cancer” and each of us have had a life changing experience.  I would like to (think) that going forward I will make better, more thoughtful and soul felt decisions.


I hope your future (life) decisions work out in your favor.  You know, having gone through cancer it sure is a tough way to learn something.


Welcome to the H&N forum.


Best and happy,



Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome Ig...

I too was SCC Tonsil Cancer...STGIII and HPV+, back in January 2009.

What you describe is pretty classic it seems. Realizing what is truely important, and what's not. The things we use to think were big, well not so much these days.

Family, relationships, friends..., those are important.

May your new found knowledge and insight stay with you for many years to come.


Laralyn's picture
Posts: 528
Joined: Apr 2012

Everyone faces different challenges and changes when he/she goes through the diagnosis and treatments. I came out of it trying to figure out what would help me reconnect with life and with the person I really wanted to be. Some of the changes were internal--I'm determined to follow through on some personal projects (like art). Some of the changes were external--I want to continue losing weight, and I'm making some job and lifestyle changes.

Give yourself some time and space to work through the issues and to sort out how you've changed. It helps a lot to talk to someone, whether that's an honest friend or a therapist, just to force yourself to externalize some of what you're thinking and feeling. Don't make any decisions right away. I felt like I wanted to make a change in my job right away, and I probably would have jumped into an opportunity right off if one had presented itself to me. Given a couple months to really figure things out, I realized I wanted to follow my heart and make an even bigger change than I had been considering. I don't think I was in the right place so soon after treatments to really think it through. I definitely needed some time to work it out.

Good luck and congratulations on reaching the other side. It sometimes seems like life keeps piling things on... but you know what? You're still here. :-)

donfoo's picture
Posts: 1648
Joined: Dec 2012

Glad to hear you are 6 months down the road and still feeling some bumps but at least getting used to the road is good news. As to all the things that you are thinking about - Remember they did not all grow into big issues overnight, most likely some were years in the making, so, have patience to work through how you evaluate them in context to your new reality. Things that were issues in the past may no longer be issues at all any more. Others that seemed intractable and were at dead ends may find new options based on the recent changes in your life. Still others, that were not issues are now more important and need bandwidth that kicks other things down the list. 

Give yourself time to let the answers and options come to you. I would not work at trying to "figure it out" so much. The light will shine more brightly and illuminate the path forward, much at its own whim.




luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

My journey unfortunately has taken me from what I thought would be years of NED to METS to my lungs and mediastynum. I have found out from a combination of the "school of hard knocks", advice from family, friends, therapists and especially here at CSN, one can find some degree of happiness no matter what their current situation may be. Even with my new battle with the beast, I am slowly able to find some happiness and some content with my situation. With my 22 month run of NED, I was planning to attack life head on regarding my career, my personal life ETC. Now the game has changed and rather than running the ball into the end zone, I have decided to punt the ball away and re group when I get the  ball back. What is important now is finding a way to slow way down, leave my high stress job that I have loved for over 20 years, get all of the stress out of my life that I can get rid of, and whatever stress is left, I will learn to deal with it on my terms.

In short, I am going to create an environment for myself that is conducive to keeping this new cancer at bay for as long as possible, and stress will only give cancer an unfair advantage to try to beat me down early. Everyone's situation is different, so you must be able to find happiness in a way that works for you.


Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2012

As one of the poster's said this is the new normal for me and I need to begin accepting the fact it's a long road to full recovery and even then, I'll always have to live with the fact I'm a canceR survivor. I do want to comment to the gentleman who has seen his cancer return after a brief remission period. My heart and thoughts are with you. I do hope I can be cancer free for a long time since I'm relatively young -- 46. Please be strong again fighting another battle. I hope you win. 

MarineE5's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Dec 2005


I tend to simplify things in my head. It may seem a bit selfish, but if you are not happy, it may show and rub off, so, try to be happy.

A little thing I do as I shave each morning is ask myself this. "Can I be a better person then I was yesterday?". It may not always work, but I try to be a kinder and nicer person then I was the day before. Don't let the little things bother you, and the bigger things you will work out with less stress.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

alaskanjan's picture
Posts: 42
Joined: Apr 2012

I never will cease to be impressed with the wisdom and insight of the folks that post on the Cancer Survivors Net.  I am a caregiver and from my perspective I am in awe of the strenght that each of you exhibit.  One thing that cancer seems to do to us is to make us appreciate the little things, the little moments and the recognition that we need to all make the most of our lives and do the things we want to do while we can.  I will never take my life or my husbands' for granted now and we both realize that every day is a gift.  It was one year ago that my husband started the second phase of his treatment, radiation that followed chemo for BOT cancer.  So far each three month checkup has been clear and I pray his next in January will be.  May God Bless You all and I wish for all of you a Happy and Healthier 2013!

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

and for more clean and clear scans for the Januarys to come...

Best ~ John

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2012

Best wishes to you Wisdom for another clean scan of your husband. I completely agree about the cancer giving me wisdom - its like an unexpected gift or alternate way of seeing things that I don't know what to do with. On the other hand, I was realize how foolish I was to take so much for granted and to let worthless desires and concerns get in the way of real appreciation for life.

CynthiaB1's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Dec 2012

Hi Igloo,

I'm new to this site and this is my first post.  I can relate to your story. I was negeotiating a divorce when last May I was diagnosed with stage III nasopharyngeal cancer.  I recieved 33 radiation treatments concurrent with Cisplatin. Then consolidation treatment with Cisplatin and 5 FU. I finished my last radiation tx on 8/9/2012 and my last chemo 10/18/2012. As you know, the treatment is quite challenging and I had no time to really think. Just get through day to day. I found that when I completed treatment, and had a clean PET CT I did not necessarily feel overjoyed despite the good news. I felt overwhelming sadness. I think i had not had a chance to process the experience of losing everything familiar to me in a split second and dropped into another universe. I was busy surving the treatment. I am fortunately moving from that place to a place where you seem to be moving. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience.

God Bless


donfoo's picture
Posts: 1648
Joined: Dec 2012

Not being able to taste food, the weight loss, the lack of mucus, the pain... But I finafeel am starting to feel better.

These are the bumps along the road to wellness. You alluded to other experiences which I call turns as these are things that make you see life from a different view. They are things that can make you more fulfilled and have a different priority on the things that give you and others joy in this life. Keep an eye out for them and take advantage when they appear.



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