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I am an 8 year cancer survivor and I am struggling to find closure from my cancer experience.I dont know if its the fact that I was diagnosed in my teenage years that made life after cancer a challenge or my inability to let go.I want to be able to move on but I can't.

Can anyone offer me some advice ?

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2014

Hello lovinglife_30,

I am an 11 year cancer survivor. Like you, I am also struggling to find closure from my teenage cancer experience. I was diagnoised when I was 17. I had dreams of becoming a professional musician and was planning to go to college and major in music performance. Unfortunately for me I ended up getting bleomycin toxicity during treatment. My doctor told me I would have permanent lung damage though he couldn't say how severe it was. I also ended up getting massive doses of steroids to combat the effects of the bleomycin toxicity resulting in significant weight gain. These two thing really impacted my lung capacity and I was just heartbroken. One month after finishing treatment I started college and tried to get back into music again. I tried hard and practiced diligantly, but I was never as good as I wanted to be. I began hating both music and myself. When I finally decided I didn't want to be a musician anymore it was too late to change my major so I stuck it out to the end and decided to graduate with a degree. I figured I'd be able to get some kind of ok job with a degree. Luck was not with me and I graduated into a recession economy with an undesirabe degree. For the past five years I've been working temporary and part time dead-end jobs and I can't help but feel if I had a business or science degree thing would be different for me now. To make matters worse, at 8 years out I asked my radiologist how bad the scarring on my lungs was and she told me it was only as bad as what a severe cold would do, which is to say the the damage was slight and not limiting to me in any way. So I found out I had put myself though the worst emotional agony I have ever known over nothing.

I recently tried going to a counselor, but didn't find it helpful. The only thing she suggested for me were anti-depression pills. I told her I wasn't interested in pills so she suggested meditation combined with exercise that gets the heart rate up. She told me nobody knows how to successfully treat trauma which is what she said cancer treatment was for me. I kept asking for other ways to improve my self esteem and build my confidence up, but she still just kept suggesting I get pills. I quit going to therapy out of frustration. I had two other counselors in the past and they didn't help me either. They only thing I've found that helps is to just keep living to the best of your ability every day. No matter how sad you are just keep getting out of bed and trying to live. By doing that I was able to meet my spouse and we have been happliy married for the past 5 years. I can honestly say I've never moved on from cancer. Everytime I think about where I am in life today and how I gave up on my dreams I get sad, even depressed at times. Going to therapy actually made me worse because I was bringing up these painful memories every week. I find my life is better when I can distract myself with hobbies. The pain of cancer has never gone away for me and I doubt it ever will. I don't think there will ever be a time in my life when I look back at cancer and don't feel the sadness of it all. I just keep prusing things that intrest me and on the days I'm too sad to do anyting else I play games to distract myself.

loving_life30, my advice to you would be to try going to a counselor. Pick one who is licensed. An easy way to tell if a counselor is licensed is if they can accept payment from insurance companies. Unlicensed counselors will not be able to do this. Others on this forum have found counseling helpful. If it isn't making you feel better don't be afraid to stop going and don't feel like there is something wrong with you. My first counselor made me feel like I was the problem. She was also unlicensed. As hard as it is, just keep trying to live life the best you can. Maybe try joining a group or club that does something that interests you. I made a lot of friends joining a martial arts club. It may be unrealistic to expect the pain of cancer to go away completely if it was a traumatic experience for you. It's not like you will ever forget going through treatment and you probablly get yearly checkups and that will remind you of things. I hope you find something of value in my post. You can message me at anytime if you want to talk more.

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