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Counseling and figuring out what is next

MAliceR's picture
MAliceR
Posts: 98
Joined: Mar 2015

Hi all,

I have been quiet lately. I guess I have been trying to figure out where my head is. I have been doing my cancer counseling and having a lot of emotional adjustments to make. Along with figuring out how to move forward is the guilt I feel for not being able to just move on. I have a dear friend who has ALS. I see her every week and help her with daily things she can no longer do. I look at her, watch her lose ground every week and KNOW that for her it isn't IF but WHEN. Then I feel horrible guilt for not being able to just accept that until my next test or unless I become symptomatic I should just jump back into life and forget about cancer. I can't forget about it. I have lived for the last 4 years with treatments, tests, surgeries, tests, more surgeries, treatments and all things cancer. You all know the drill. I can't seem to find a balance for letting go of it a bit and finding my footing. I can't make a long term decision. I can't plan anything 3 months out because I am afraid of the what if's. I won't even let my hair grow out beyond my current short cut, because what if I lose it all again? I feel like I am standing at a wall made of glass. I can see the rest of the world and the future out there but I can't step through it. My counselor says it isn't depression, it is learning to live with my new normal and finding a place where I can live with my reality and enjoy my life. She described the adjustment in a way that made some sense. She said, think about your life as though you were living along, all things going well. You go on a trip and are stranded on an island. It doesn't matter if you are alone or not, but for the next 4 years your life is focused totally on survival on that island. Every breathing moment is about survival. Then all of a sudden, you are rescued and dropped back into your old life. It isn't possible to just go back and settle back in like nothing has happened. You can rejoin life, but you will be different, the way your relate to life will be forever different. That doesn't mean you can't embrace life and live it with purpose, it is just different. She reminded me I am still very early days out of a long, LONG run of treatment over the last 4 years. (8 months since I finished the last treatment). She also reminded me that when a person goes through recurrences it is harder to move forward because you have had resurrences. So in a way you wait for the next shoe to drop. I get all this. And that leads me back to guilt for whining. I am blessed right now to have time that is free of treatments and as far as the tests show, cancer free. I know it is a blessing. Something many don't get so why should I have any right to complain or whine about not being able to get back into life? It is a viscious circle. 

So yeah, I have been quiet lately. Guilty to even bring my thoughts here, knowing so many are struggling here already. I will be continuing my counseling and working to figure this all out. 

One week, day, hour, minute and second at a time...

Thanks for listening!

MAlice

janderson1964
Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

You shouldn't have any guilt. Cancer is a brutal life changing event. As far as your friend with ALS don't feel guilty but use it as a motivating factor. I don't know anyone personaly who has ALS but I am fully aware of the brutality of the disease. When ever I am feeling down and sorry for myself, I tell my self it could be worse, I could have ALS instaed of cancer.

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 3346
Joined: Jan 2010

I am glad that you have a counselor who is helping you thru this.

I think that many survivors go thru something closely resembling PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder).  While it is most often described as something our service persons suffer from, our battle against cancer is no less fierce than theirs.

While all of us wish for the life we had before cancer, that just is not going to happen.  We are changed.  The best we can do is determine what our NEW life will be.  We will never be totally free of the fear of a recurrance.  We will never totally be free of the survivor's guilt.  What we can do is determine that those thoughts and feeling will not rule or rob us of the life we have to live.

We have to consciously say...ok, I have these thoughts and fears...but they only get xx minutes of my day.  After that I am going on with living.  Making long term plans may not be possible yet, but even planning a day or a week or a month ahead is possible.  Small steps, lead to getting a long way down the path.

You are a wonderful friend to help her with her limitaitons.

We are always here for you.  We understand.

Marie who loves kitties

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5193
Joined: Jan 2013

No, you don't have to or could you 'forget about it'.  Its a part of you, and always will be, for as long as you live. Embrace it! Make it a part of your life, a part that you can look BACK on and decide what about your journey can you USE to make your life and OTHERS lives better. 

What a wonderful friend you are already, helping you friend with ALS. All that you have suffered goes towards making you who you are, and obviously you are a very caring person. 

As for the other stuff, the hair, the fears about life, I can't really help because I'm not any kind of councellor, and luckily I have that happy go lucky kind of attitude that means I can just poo poo the bad stuff and move right along.  I wish I could wave a magic wand over your head so that you too can move on with the joy that should be yours because you are alive and well; but alas, I can't. I am glad that you are seeing a Cancer councillor. I hope that they can really help you, and I will certainly send a few prayers Heavenward on your behalf. 

And don't feel guilty either. The forum is here for just this purpose, to vent, to cry, to rejoice to dance. You're struggles are as important as the struggles of those going through treatment, so no, don't feel guilty. 

Good luck as you work your way through this. I promise, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and no, not 'that' light. That will come, one day, but not today. 

Sue - Trubrit

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1197
Joined: Feb 2015

Do not get down on yourself for your feelings.  It is part of the hand that is dealt when the diagnosis comes in.  I am not into this as far as many, and I am pretty positive, but it is always going to be part of things.  I have my moments, by myself, where the thoughts race and take you to places which are not where any of us want to be.  

Go out there and have a good time with each moment.  You have gotten through this and should do so without any guilt whatsover about being healthy or knowing others are going through this.  Empathy, concern, helpful advice are all welcome.  But don't beat yourself up for being okay or worrying about (and expressing) concerns about what the future holds.  I know I welcome seeing every all clear and NED story here, the encoragement and sharing all of the thoughts, fears and anxiety that comes with this.  It makes me feel far less alone and I am would bet it is the same for others.

 

 

lp1964's picture
lp1964
Posts: 1240
Joined: Jun 2013

Most people can't and shouldn't forget cancer. recent studies show that 2/3 of the cancers are by chance and have no particular reason, but I still believe that people do things that increase the chance of getting cancer. I myself worked and stressed too much and didnt eat the healthiest way. Cancer didn't make me happier or any more bitter. But constantly remembering what I went through certainly did help to clean and clear things up in my life. I eat and live healthier and certainly have no time for people who cause me stress. Support me, help me or leave me alone. Cancer taught me a lesson I should have learned a long time ago, I just ignored the signs.

Laz

MAliceR's picture
MAliceR
Posts: 98
Joined: Mar 2015

Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments. I really appreciate it. I am heading out to spend a few days with my brother in Seattle. It will be fun to just hangout with my "baby" brother, chat and laugh over our memories while we celebrate his birthday. I am the big sister by 2 1/2 years and I never let him forget it :)~ 

I am going to try really hard to put cancer away for a few days and just enjoy being alive. 

MA

 

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