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Who am "I" Pre-cancer and Post cancer

marbleotis's picture
marbleotis
Posts: 715
Joined: Mar 2012

Team,

A little off topic for me but something I have really been thinking about alot recently.  A little background, I am 4 year NED this past Jan 2016 from stage 3b signet cell colon cancer.  Had the surgery then 6 months of the lovely 5fu/oxi.

I looked inward and really can see I have become different before/after cancer.  I thought it may be interesting to take a look at it.

Pre-cancer

  • I am strong and tough
  • I was part of the usual stress-driven world
  • I let the usual stuff bother me alot
  • The wrong things were important and took up way too much of my time
  • I seemed to be angry

Post-cancer

  • I am super-woman strong and tough
  • There is nothing I cannot do
  • I have a unique mission that I try to figure out daily what it is
  • I have helped many people in the early stages of this nightmare to feel better, even if only for a minute
  • I pity how people act many times because I can see they put focus on what does not matter (money/jobs...) as they can come and go
  • Each second of every day is a gift and I refuse to waste a minute - if someone is pulling me down that path, they are not in my life
  • I do not get involved in nonsense any more
  • If I am not happy with a situation, whatever it is, I change it immediately!
  • I always stop and smell the roses
  • i help people going thorugh this, because I know where there are mentally and physically and what this disease can do to you mentally and physically
  • I do what I love to do, and I will write my own path as I am not afraid to make big changes anymore
  • If you are not part of me remaining healthy - then you are no longer in my life
  • I purposfully never spell cancer with a capital "c".  It no longer controls me
  • I am vigilant with eating organic, getting the right exercise and really living
  • I understand that while NED, I cannot think it could change down the road, I always need to keep that in my head
  • I realized that I need to be the best version of me that is possible and I control what that is
  • It is ok to move people out of your life/way that do not support in any way my need to remain as stress free as possible
  • I hate to waste time, even a second because that is a second of borrowed-time I cannot get back, so I don't waste it
  • Change is my new best friend
  • People say the dumbest and most insensitive things to you as you move through cancer threatments
  • I am not perfect and not everyone needs to like me, that's ok, their loss :)
  • I rarely use the horn on my car anymore.....
  • Wow - I have also apparently become long-winded, must be the chemo brain

I enjoyed writing this, it was different for me in that it was not all about scans, tests and results.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Playing by the numbers

I suppose most would agree with the following:

4. I have helped many people in the early stages of this nightmare to feel better, even if only for a minute

10. I [would like to] help people going thorugh [through] this, because I know where there [they're] are mentally and physically and what this disease can do to you mentally and physically

13. I purposfully [purposely] never spell cancer with a capital "c".  It no longer controls me

18. I hate to waste time, even a second because that is a second of borrowed-time I cannot get back, so I don't waste it

As unfortunate as it may be, #13 is a tough nut. Cancer seems to control us when it forces us to change our life and schedules to conform to tests and operations that are necessary to maintain life. We do not want cancer to take control, but it does, and newcomers to this "social page" have to understand that. They will eventually figure it out, but why fake normalcy?  A diagnosis of cancer changes life; it has ramifications, both mental and physical, that do not ever end. It indeed "controls" us!

#18 Is a lesson in objectivity. I seriously think that most of us "waste time" by getting lost in hobbies and business; making money and looking for escape hatches, than seriously consider that life may come to an abrupt end well before we're ready to quit.

How many seriously make out wills, advance arrangements for funerals or cremation? How many check life insurance policies, health policies to see if they will support those that rely on our existance? Is the deed t the house made out to avoid probate problems, or will the spouse have an added problem when you die? Car titles, phone contracts, credit card names and contracts, various registration forms..... all the mundane paperwork that we all take for granted, but all that will be a very major problem for the survivor..... for your spouse or family.

Cancer isn't necessarily the "end of life", but it can be. And unfortunately, it is more often is, than it isn't.

We can feel we are not "wasting time" by not worryiing about tomorrow, but like a Giraffe burrying it's head in the dirt, you may get your butt bit.
(they don't really do that, btw...it's a myth)

"Prepare for the worst; wish for the best".

Best wishes for best health!

John

marbleotis's picture
marbleotis
Posts: 715
Joined: Mar 2012

I love your info.  I did indeed get all my ducks in a row too (wills....), that's part of becoming super-strong.  You deal with things when you don't have to so if you have to they are already done.

About waste of time....jobs, hobbies.  I have learned if you are doing what you love to do, then it is not a job.  If you are unhappy with your job, change it!

Great discussion!

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5486
Joined: Jan 2013

Cancer (and yes, I have to spell is with a Capital, because it is proper and I am OCD) has indeed changed me, and made me 'super-woman' strong as well.  I still wish I hadn't been diagnosed with Cancer, but I do like the person I have become, because of it.  

Unlike John, I don't think hobbies or work are a waste of time. Time is what you enjoy. I enjoy my hobbies and I enjoy my work. I do agree that you should spend some of the time getting your ducks in order, but past that, I'm going to truly enjoy life and that means birding, long walks, good music, deep breathing, friends, family, and even my one day a week job as a podiatric medical assistant.  Of course, that is balanced out with helping and being there for others, but unlike the 'do it for everyone else and forget yourself' woman of the past, I make sure that its all about me and others. 

Life is really what you make it. It may never pan out exactly how you want it, but you can go about enjoying how it is. 

Thank you so very much for sharing. 

Sue - Trubrit

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1340
Joined: Feb 2015

To all the above.

And I hear where John is coming from on some of the points and also the "C' thing for you Sue.

The point about wasting time on hobbies and the rest, I generally get.  And even now there is some things I probably should focus on.  Before I went into surgery, not knowing, I wrote something that is probably a will for all intents and purposes.  And it was sealed and ready to go.  I still need to formalize it.  But I went with things that made me happy afterwards.  Doing what got me through things.  In the last month or so, a year out, I am focused on clearing things up.  More as just dealing with it a bit, catching up on work and the rest.  But doing things that were "wasteful," (broad stroke) got me in a better place to get through things.  I went to a TON of baseball games during chemo.  And it got me through things.  Kept me in tremendous spirits and really avoided a ton of emotional dips just by living for fun.  Not ignoring things, but I knew for the most part things were okay if things went south.  My friends, family and myself never sat and were sullen for all of it.  

I guess basically it took a few minutes of talking to my wife and my brother saying, "Okay, this is the scene, I know you both will be okay knowing this with some general notes," as compared to being too bogged down.  And I also know their personalities and the rest it will be okay.  I am now at the point where I can address it properly.  

My general things are in order, just want to toss things I do not need so if something goes awry no one has that burden.  

As to big "C" or little "c", s---w it.  It is here no matter how I address the stupid thing.  I go about my business.  Don't really talk about my issue, unless I meet someone who is part of this, more so if someone new to the game.  Then I do everything I can to be supportive and mention I went through this drill.  And no one who I did not tell had any clue, just because how I handled it.  And then they just look at me and realize it ain't an immediate death sentence.  Don't get me wrong, I know what we are all up against.  But to the extent we can keep on keepin' on, why the heck not.  I do have a bucket list that I need to get on, specifically some books to write.  That weighs on me the most.  And I sort of think of that as my coda if things come back.

This is really a pain in the neck health issue, ain't it?  

Be well everyone and thanks once again for everything to make this all a ton less difficult.

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1164
Joined: Aug 2013

Feel free to say"screw it" or "cancer sucks " or "the hell with this **** ", we're adults dealing with lots worse than language.............................................Dave 

"

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1340
Joined: Feb 2015

True.  Just trying to make sure I am not stepping over bounds or offensive.  Which I normally do not do :)  But when can talk about farts and poops as part of our cancer, so my inner 5 year old is always satisfied :)  It is kind of funny about all that.  Before all this I would not be quite as forthcoming, now I tell people get a colonscopy and get preapred for those bunch of hours that we all know and love.  

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1164
Joined: Aug 2013

Sounds to me like you got strong and decisive through this ordeal. If it makes you better, that's awesome.  A lot of us just feel beat up by life, so you're way ahead of the game. Today we split my wife's ashes, the kids and I, was kind of a ceremony. Bits of her are going to Hawaii, Seattle, New York and all the places she never got to go, as well as Vegas and Dana Point, places she loved. I enjoyed reading your treatise, a declaration of your new rules, a statement that you run your life, not indifferent doctors, or friends who can't cope with hard truths and uncomfortable facts. Good for you. I aspire to that kind of strength, but today still made me teary eyed, albeit privately. Honoring my wife is great, losing her is going to ache forever.......................................Dave

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1340
Joined: Feb 2015

My thoughts are with you.  You and your children have gone through so much Dave.  

And though I know you know this inherently, and I feel a bit off of saying this, the pain will ease more and the good parts will remain.  

I really wish I had better words....

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I love the list! Good for you for doing something like this, I bet its very cathartic.

I wish I could say that I'm a better person for having come through this but I'm not. I have no more patience with people than I used to and less for whiners. When I see people on Facebook or in person going on about some trivial thing it makes me angry. When I see people acting like victims it makes me angry, too. And when I see cancer survivors acting like it's a badge of honour and they're in a special group like they're somehow superior to others or who try to elicit sympathy from people by announcing that they've had cancer very quickly in a conversation with a new acquaintance it makes me angry, as well. I'm also tired of feeling guilty. I guess it's survivor's guilt. I've always been brokenhearted reading about children with cancer. Now I feel horrible and also feel guilty because I'm doing okay. Why should I at 52 be doing well and a child who has never had the opportunity to have a life be dying? It makes me wish I could somehow spread my good luck and good health to them like a magical gift.

Anyway, your list is definitely thought provoking, thank you.

Jan

Helen321's picture
Helen321
Posts: 1428
Joined: May 2012

I wish I could say half of these things, I used to be superwoman, now I'm superwoman with serious physcial disabilities.  Sucks sometimes.  Good for you! I definitely appreciate life a million times more. I was never much of a horn beeper before and now it just annoys me when people beep.  What's the rush?  Only one exit in this life, sit back and enjoy even things like traffic jams.

BillO60
Posts: 72
Joined: Mar 2015

I read through the list and I certainly admire your perserverance, commitment, and energy in making changes in your life that are important to you.  As I come to the end of my treatment sometime in July  I've started to consider what comes next, which in my case will be to try to find a job, On reflection I've realized that I've had no epiphany or any major introspective life altering personality changes. 

For good or ill, I'm still the same slightly OCD, procrastinating, night owl that hates getting up early, enjoys arguing with lawyers and negotiating with sales people, loves to spend 3 days writing a program to automate something that would take me 5 minutes to do manually, who is cautiously optimistic about the ability of people to do good and to do the right thing, even when no one is watching, but have lived long enough to recognize that there's alot of self-serving, selfish, self-centered, egotistical, lieing, greedy, cheating, manipulative, and just plain hateful and/or evil people out there as well. 

I'm thrilled that after so many years of being a comic book fan/nerd that many of the hero's I grew up with have finally made it to TV and in the movies. I'm not a fan of using my car horn because, for me, it's much more satisfying to yell at all the idiot drivers (this is LA after all)  who need to go back to driver's ed and learn to drive and get the hell off my road. Generally with the windows rolled up of course.

I could promise myself that I'll eat better, get more exercise, reduce stress,  just like I have for the past 40 years or so but I have to be honest, even with Cancer as a motivator I'm not sure I'll  keep that promise any better in the future than I have the other 3,439 times I've made that promise to myself in the past.  The last time I committed to exercising and losing weight I was doing consulting work in another state for 3 weeks at a time over a 10 month period. My motivation, trying to impress my wife, and improve certain aspects of our relationship that had kind of fallen by the wayside (or more succinctly,  sex is always a great motivator).  I liked my life, stress, trivial annoyances, long-hours at work, annoying drivers and all the rest of it and wish I had it back. 

Like most people, I've had things happen in my life that would be considered life altering.  What I've discovered is that they altered me physically or they've altered those around me but I don't think they altered who I am.  I don't know where I picked it up at but one of my favorite sayings at work when someone, including me, made a mistake or had to deal with a crisis or emergency that we weren't prepared for I considered it a "learning and growing experience".  I've come to view this part of my life in the same way.

In my late teens I came across the Desidereta. (It's out there on the web). What I really liked about it is that it's brief, simple, and easy to understand. I can't say that I've always followed it but every once in awhile I go back and re-read it as a reminder of some important things I forget.

Cancer sucks and to make things even more complicated it sucks to varyiig degrees that is different for each person. I live alone, my daughter lives 4 states away and rarely hear from her, I'm out of work and the last time it took me 18 months to get a job during which time I went through all of my savings.  I'm still not sure whether or not I have liver mets or if at the end of my treatment I'll be able to claim to be NED. 

I'm not saying any of this as a complaint because compared to what others have gone through and are going through I consider myself very fortunate,  It's just a list of "issues" that are external to me that I would have to choose to worry and stress about .

Instead, for the time being, I choose to use what I used to believe was a weakness, which is really the "super power" of procrastination which lets me put off being stressed until later. 

Although I'm not a religious person, I've always liked this, even when "serenity" is elusive and "wisdom" is difficult to achieve.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Bill

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