What has cancer taught you about yourself?

foxhd
foxhd Member Posts: 3,181
edited January 2017 in Kidney Cancer #1

Posts: 2760
Joined: Oct 2011

Jan 02, 2017 - 4:51 pm





I wanted to open up a thought from a recent thread. At least as of today, we all know what NED means. But what else have we all learned? Newbies concerns and fears are different than us old timers. And so are stage 1's vs stage 4's. What about how we plan and cope? Have we learned who we really are?

My career in health care prepared me to accept death. That is so different than my undefeated survival instinct. I'm just not ready to go. Medicine works best if you fight for a good outcome. I've always known that my life long committment to fitness has taught me that I can ALWAYS tolerate just a little more. I also learned from contact sports that I can get knocked down pretty damn hard and I will still get back up to take another hit. That is my responsibility. It has always been and always will be survival of the fittest. I know my resiliency is wearing thin, but it's gotten me this far.

I've also learned that accepting how my life has been altered allows me to readjust my goals and expectations. I sure do miss my Harley but you should see how nice my property looks! I look forward to continue persuing my hobbies and interests throughout 2017. I am proof that we are living with cancer. Not dying from it. (boy, am I looking forward to spring).

Fox Loves You, Fly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Comments

  • stub1969
    stub1969 Member Posts: 954 Member
    edited January 2017 #2
    Interesting question, Fox

    I've always known--at least my wife tells me--that I'm pretty stubborn.  I'm a product of my experiences and interests.  I was a multi-sport athlete in high school, but my favorite was wrestling.  I LOVE the sport.  One-on-one to see who trained and worked the hardest.  Any weakness, both mental or physical was taken advantage of by your opponent.  Growing up in a household of three boys, wrestling in high school was just an extension of my childhood.  I still crave competition, which is why I workout and run.  When I found out I had cancer it initially kicked my butt.  I think a big reason it impacted me so dramatically (an still does) was because cancer isn't an opponent I could face eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe.  Cancer really messes with your mind.  I'm glad I'm physically fit, but I'm also glad I've exercised my mental muscles over the years.  On a side note--I've tried to live my life a little differently than pre-diagnosis.  Donna, if you don't mind, I'd love to use your words from a previous post to describe my post-diagnosis mental state for living:

    "What have I learned in 10+ years? Have Hope.  Take care of your health (weight, blood pressure, etc.).  Don't sweat the little things.  Say I love You more often. Eliminate tasks-people-meetings where you feel like you are wasting your time, and don't let them guilt you into doing more than you want to do.  Be more selfish with the time you have.  Be generous and be anonymous.  Spend more time with your family and close friends. Laugh. Take time to relax your body and your mind."  

    I hope you get as much out of Donna's words as I did when I first read them.  Individually and collectively, these concepts are powerful. 

    Blessings,

    Stub

  • Jan4you
    Jan4you Member Posts: 1,330 Member
    Great post inviting an

    Great post inviting an interesting discussion, Foxy! I just was writing about what the "c" word teaches us? What do we learn about ourselves we didn't know before? Strenghts, weaknesses? How do we cope with fear & anxiety? Our relationships?

    How much better we learn to make our health a priority. Seek support and help when needed..

    Adversity forces us to grow and expand our viewpoints and priorities I beleive.

    And I believe in YOU!!

    Hugs, Jan

     

  • dhs1963
    dhs1963 Member Posts: 513
    edited January 2017 #4
    For me....it taught me to live

    All my life, my focus was on what was coming:  the next project, the next report, the next trip, the next weekend.  Then, suddenly, there might not be a next. All I knew was how I was at the moment.  The cancer came back once, would it do it again?  Well, what to the odds say?  How can I plan for the future?  Do I have 3 months or 30 years?  Argh!!!  That triggered an identity crisis:  who am I?  why?  Why Me?  Why not me?

    Pretty quickly, I came to realize the only planning would be out to the next scan.  So I started living life one scan at a time.  Then, something else happened...my heart stopped.  I was only out for about 30 seconds to a minute, and was revived (was in a medical office).  I realized at that point that I really do not know how much time I have left.  I was about 50.  I also realized, I never knew how much time I had.  I just thought I did.  Instead of being depressing, it was liberating.  It meant that each day should be lived.  Each moment enjoyed.

    Today, I will plan out beyond the next scan; I am NED for almost 4 years.  Scans are every six months.  I also see the caridologist every six months, and other doctors.  I am 53 years old.  Will I make 54?  I do not know.   But, I will enjoy the ride.

  • donna_lee
    donna_lee Member Posts: 1,023 Member
    edited January 2017 #5
    Just me again,

    I wouldn't change anything I've said over the years I've been here, or the quote from Stub.

    From just after DX in 2006 until about two years ago, I participated in, and later facilitated (herded cats) a Cancer Support Group on Monday mornings.  As I sat back and observed and listend, I saw a bunch of individuals who, to semi-quote Einstein, "would repeat their behavior and expect a differt answer." 

    Whether it was the mother who was clean of drugs and sober now, but must have left her son with a lot of baggage and bad memories.  Her D-i-l didn't want mom in their lives.  Or the guy who kept going back to his estranged wife, thinking she'd quit smoking pot for recreation.  Or the guy who was Dx'd with Adult ADHD who wouldn't take his meds and consumed the group with his talking.  And the former Principal who knew the rules-no politics and no religion- who kept wanting to share His religion with all of us.  This was when I eliminated meetings that became time wasters to me.

    As Fox has said, some of us don't have much advice for those who find us the minute they are diagnosed, although we are glad they have found a group to latch on to. I've never had robotic surgery; my Lap surgeries were a tubal ligation and later a Dx-exploratory for Endometriosis, which are totally different from removing all or part of a kidney.  I've never had radiation treatment, or any of the cancer drugs-and I'm truly lucky that what they call Palliative care-Surgery- was able to keep me NED.

    It's the beginning of a new year, and where am I going with this.  Maybe even I don't know.  But I did set a goal when my second granddaughter was born in Aug. 2006 that I wanted to be at her wedding, and that whe wasn't allowed to marry until whe was 50.  Hah.  I took the girls shopping last Saturday, and then we went to lunch and visited.  That's what it's all about.  Creating memories for the future.  My youngest grandson is playing in a soccer tourney in a couple of weeks and inviting coaches from a couple of colleges to watch him, in hopes they'll like what they see for their team  He wants to study Engineering and Play Soccer at a small college somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  Goal Setting!!

    Enuff-Have a good year, keep up all the good work, be happy, and smile a lot. Cool

    Hugs to all,

    donna_lee

  • Jojo61
    Jojo61 Member Posts: 1,309 Member
    I discovered a lump in my

    I discovered a lump in my abdomen while at my mother's bedside, the last days of her life (lung cancer). I remember asking my sisters if I should be worried about the lump and get it checked out. They said YES! After my mother passed, we spent the next couple of months clearing her apartment, grieving, adjusting. After I went back to work, it still took a while before I had a chance to call the doctor. My doctor sent me for a CT scan after the ultrasound revealed a "swollen" kidney. Imagine my surprise when I read what was in the envelope I was handed to pass to the technician. ***Patient does not know! If you have any questions please call the office. Large mass on kidney, likely carcinoma." I read it, texted my husband, and he (after quickly googling) texted back saying it should be an okay outcome. I went through the CT scan, joked with the technicians, and went back to work to tell my boss. No tears.

    I learned that I was strong....but didn't really learn that until later on during my experience. My sister pointed it out. She reminded me that early on she had asked me why I wasn't really scared. I told her that I knew our mum and dad were watching over me. And I do believe that they were. I also learned how much faith I had.

    I learned a lot from this group of wonderful people. I learned facts from them, and learned of their experiences. I learned how compassionate people were. What big, enormous, warm hearts they had. I learned that I wasn't alone. I also learned that I have trouble with medical jargon!! LOL. But others here are super at it!! It all works out.

    Health is more of a priority now, but my biggest priority is time. Quality time. I have started to pare away relationships that are time wasters. I am also trying to not be so hard on myself. I am my own worst critic. It is time to embrace the good things and learn to live with the flaws. We all have them - and some of the flaws can even end up being endearing! Who knew?? I am also trying to simplify my life, streamline it, so that I don't waste time on "stuff". It is amazing how much time we use up on "stuff". This year's resolution for me? To not buy anything! (other than food and hygiene products). That frees up time - and money! (of course, it is only January 3rd, but so far, so good! LOL).

    Great post, Foxy. I love you for all your insightful comments....you handsome fella!

    Hugs

    Jojo

     

     

  • icemantoo
    icemantoo Member Posts: 3,359 Member
    edited January 2017 #7
    Never

    Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get Cancer. Being told I had Kidney Cancer after I had a routine CYA CT  made me numb and my wife freaked out. Having gone thru that   makes me able to relate to the Newbies in a more personal and understanding way than many doctors and mental health professionals can. I can also relate to other Cancer patients and understanding what it means to hear that you have Cancer,

     

    Icemantoo

  • APny
    APny Member Posts: 1,995 Member
    edited January 2017 #8
    It taught me that I'm not

    It taught me that I'm not immortal and invincible.  I was never sick in my life besides the occasional cold, and except for a torn meniscus I never had a thing wrong with me in 62 years of life. So I figured nothing will ever go wrong. No one in my family (which is huge) has ever had cancer so that was the last thing I thought I'd get. It also taught me that you can take care of yourself, eat healthy, exercise, not smoke or drink a lot and still get cancer. It also taught me to be humble because others are facing a much more daunting version of this horrible disease. Finally it taught me who my real friends and supporters are.

  • Footstomper
    Footstomper Member Posts: 1,237
    Lessons learned

    1, Cancer is a total tom tit of a disease

    2, I've got more bottle than I thought I had

    3, Nothing paints a worse picture than your imagination will

    4, Love is strong and given freely without hope or thought of recuperation

    5, Anyone called Molly is alright by me

  • mrou50
    mrou50 Member Posts: 389
    what Have I Learned

    I was a multi sport athlete who loved and revered competition.  I thought I was the toughest person I knew because of this. I would not back down from any kind of fight, physical or mental.  I always placed family above God and everything else. After being told I had cancer, then being told it returned a year and half later after they got rid of the first time everything changed.  

    I found out I was not the toughest person I know, I don't want this battle but it has been placed in front of me. Even though I don't want this I will still fight for my right to be on this earth.   I still love and honor my family but I have learned that God should come first and that actually helped strengthen my feelings about family.  I learned I am a very liberal person and I enjoy life but I am not afraid of death, just how I die frightens me.  I learned that life is to short to pay attention to negative people who only think about themselves.  

    I also learned that mankind has an obligation to people to care for them and to make sure they are cared for medically, as well as mentally, and that there are people out there that only care about themselves and don't feel an obligation to others.  I try to be more compasionate towards others. 

    Most importantly I love my family friends on a much deeper level then ever before, and to my male friends who I always was macho around I tell them when ever I see them or talk to them I love them and that they are important to me.  It usually catches them off guard but every last one of them have said I love you back.

    Mark

  • hardo718
    hardo718 Member Posts: 853
    edited January 2017 #11
    This is a good one Fox

    Honestly, I had to contemplate a bit.  Not that I don't know what it has taught me about me, but rather, how to put it in words.

    I take less for granted now. 

    I show up more......I used to think about invitations too much, now if I'm available, I go and I try to enjoy. Never felt comfortable socializing before.  I had 80% hearing loss as a child and although my hearing was restored I still have issues in group settings.  When there are multiple conversations going on, my brain is trying to hear all of them!  Talk about sensory overload.  haha

    I cherish family & friends more.

    I am less judgemental now and realize I am no better than anyone, I am no worse than anyone, just different.

    I know more than ever, that my time on this planet is a lesson of sorts and that I can be an educator as well as a student because of my experiences.  My lesson today I learned from what Mark (mrou50) wrote above about expressing love....I need to do more of that.  Thanx Mark!

    I am stronger than I thought I was.

    I don't get as flustered over the stuff that doesn't really matter in the long run.....usually.  Wink

    I focus more on the positive things around me than the negatives.

    I'm all about celebrating life since that dirty little beast, Bob the Blob, stopped by and overstayed his welcome.  Tongue Out

    Donna~

     

     

     

     

  • Dave418
    Dave418 Member Posts: 95
    edited January 2017 #12
    I am strong.

    I am strong.

    I am a fighter

    Even if i'm NED ,Cancer will always be there, that song is stuck in my head...

    I have a lot of friends and a wondurful family.

    People care about me.

    Lets do it today, we'll sleep when dead

    I am really stubborn

    Only people who have or had cancer will really understand.

    Others experiences are really helping me.

    I'll never go back to the "old" normal, i am a changed men.

    Beeing alive is good, live it fullspeed.

    My friends joke about my "monokidney" and i like it. 

    This group is a blessing.

    Pizza and beer!! ;-)

    Dave

     

     

     

     

     

  • danbren2
    danbren2 Member Posts: 311
    edited January 2017 #13
    Everything Else Seems Minimal!

    The words "don't sweat the small stuff" took on a whole new meaning! I had no idea what I was up against.  It was bad enough being told I have cancer, but stage 4, after looking on the computer I thought I was dead.  I have learned to look at life in general differently and have realized getting mad does not change anything except to cause stress, which is really just as evil as the cancer!

    I have found that I am a lot stronger than I thought and can overcome so many things by just believing in myself and doing what is best for me!  I was approved for disability and will be retiring on January 20.  Last  MRI showed another tumor in brain (total of 5 now in there) but the first three that had cyber knife treatment are shrinking!

                                  Love and prayers for good health!

                                  Brenda

  • WhatIsLife
    WhatIsLife Member Posts: 38
    edited January 2017 #14
    I've learned I'm still learning

    Since it's only been 4 months since my original diagnosis I've learned I've got a lot to learn, but I've also learned one can learn a lot in a short time. Oddly, one thing that stands out to me is I've learned to worry less about what others think. If my hair is out of place or I had a stain on my pants, I used to worry about that - now, I don't care! I guess I'm learning not to sweat the small things. One thing I've definitely learned is how caring and loving people are, and that truly is a gift I don't think many people get to experience. Thanks Fox for starting this thread because I'm learning just reading through it!

    Kevin 

  • pamstayner
    pamstayner Member Posts: 111
    I learned

    That I am just fine where I am right now.  I am strong and can take whatever might be thrown at me with this cancer. I am not afraid, and I am still ME. I can do more than I thought I could, and if I cannot, then let it go... or ask for help. It simply is not important any more  . I enjoy every day, set a goal of what I want to do, one day at a time. I usually make it.  

    I gain strength from those of you who post here.  I make sure to read here and SP each few days... because you are all important to me. 

    Ok Fox.. you have me wallowing in all this heavy heavy life stuff... time for me to just go out and FLY !! ( By the way, when I dream, I can fly, about anytime I think of wanting to... loose my stomach and all... not a lot of people can fly in their sleep... I do.)

        Pam

     

     

  • Allochka
    Allochka Member Posts: 993 Member
    Thank you for this great

    Thank you for this great topic and wonderful, sincere answers. Recently I realized that, in addition to to learning about strength, love, compassion and other major things I have learned how quickly we forget...

    When my husband was diagnosed and treated, I also realized what is really important in life and decided not to sweat the small stuff. Well... 3-4 months passed after husband diagnosis and I was trrribly upset that the color of skirting boards in our renovated apartment was slightly different from floor hardwood color. And more stuff like that... 

    How stupid is this? The man I loved just had potentially deadly disease, I was sure I knew what was important then. 3 months later -  here we go again... Was also upset recently of not getting salary increase to desired level (increase - yes, but not ENOUGH, give me more!)

    That is what I've learned. We forget, we still take for granted, and sometimes even one serious blow is not enough to reevaluate. I was a bit ashamed of myself and try to make conscious effort not to fall into this trap again.

  • marosa
    marosa Member Posts: 333
    edited January 2017 #17
    Love this thread

    Just have not been able to quite put together in my mind, much less in words the things wich I have learned...   I'll just try a few!  One is that its not only "other people" who get cancer, I never thought I !!!   I now feel much more free about many things like saying "no", like not wasting time on things or people that I don't enjoy or feel confortable with,  I do less "guilt trips" on myself and I have learned that even hypocondriacs like me can be strong and cope with fear and anxiety when faced with them just as others do.

    Understanding that this desease makes people feel scared and sometimes don't really know how to go about us. It used to upset me, now I can deal with it without getting all fussed up.  I have always felt there are more good people out there than what we think but Its been such a great experience to see how caring and giving so many are, even people who have never met you personally, like all of you here.

    Another surprising thing for me is to see how everything changes but at the same time everything stays more or less the same.  I think I was sure after surviving cancer I would turn into some kind of Angel... but no, I'm still impatient, still afraid of planes (but love traveling), still grouchy in the mornings,  still give hell to my husband for forgetting everyday to brush also the back of his hair!  Oh Im far from having turned into no angel!

  • mrou50
    mrou50 Member Posts: 389
    edited January 2017 #18
    marosa said:

    Love this thread

    Just have not been able to quite put together in my mind, much less in words the things wich I have learned...   I'll just try a few!  One is that its not only "other people" who get cancer, I never thought I !!!   I now feel much more free about many things like saying "no", like not wasting time on things or people that I don't enjoy or feel confortable with,  I do less "guilt trips" on myself and I have learned that even hypocondriacs like me can be strong and cope with fear and anxiety when faced with them just as others do.

    Understanding that this desease makes people feel scared and sometimes don't really know how to go about us. It used to upset me, now I can deal with it without getting all fussed up.  I have always felt there are more good people out there than what we think but Its been such a great experience to see how caring and giving so many are, even people who have never met you personally, like all of you here.

    Another surprising thing for me is to see how everything changes but at the same time everything stays more or less the same.  I think I was sure after surviving cancer I would turn into some kind of Angel... but no, I'm still impatient, still afraid of planes (but love traveling), still grouchy in the mornings,  still give hell to my husband for forgetting everyday to brush also the back of his hair!  Oh Im far from having turned into no angel!

    Marosa

    It's great that you still give "hell" to your husband anything else would make him feel uncomfortable.  I know when I was diagnosed the second time my wife changed a little, she stopped lecturing me when I did stupid things, and expected me to stop opening doors for her for fear that I would get hurt and many other things.  I told her that I need her to be her and treat me just the same as she did before. That i why I think it is great that you are being you that is awesome.

     Mark

  • JerzyGrrl
    JerzyGrrl Member Posts: 760
    edited January 2017 #19
    Allochka said:

    Thank you for this great

    Thank you for this great topic and wonderful, sincere answers. Recently I realized that, in addition to to learning about strength, love, compassion and other major things I have learned how quickly we forget...

    When my husband was diagnosed and treated, I also realized what is really important in life and decided not to sweat the small stuff. Well... 3-4 months passed after husband diagnosis and I was trrribly upset that the color of skirting boards in our renovated apartment was slightly different from floor hardwood color. And more stuff like that... 

    How stupid is this? The man I loved just had potentially deadly disease, I was sure I knew what was important then. 3 months later -  here we go again... Was also upset recently of not getting salary increase to desired level (increase - yes, but not ENOUGH, give me more!)

    That is what I've learned. We forget, we still take for granted, and sometimes even one serious blow is not enough to reevaluate. I was a bit ashamed of myself and try to make conscious effort not to fall into this trap again.

    Skirting boards and such...

    Allochka --

    I also had to deal with skirting boards, carpeting, and such recently.  We had damage to our house, and the contractor told me they couldn't find an exact match to the floor, but were looking. I was exasperated as well, but in the other direction. "Something in the general neighborhood of the floor is fine!" Of course they wanted to do their best, which took longer. Then came time to replace the carpeting.  I was presented with more than a dozen choices, any of which would've been OK.  "I don't care, whatever you can get!" Family and friends freaked in the other direction. "Don't EVER tell a contractor you don't care! You could get anything!" OK, I picked something nice.  It's all good. 

    But at the time, it didn't make any difference to me.  I had bigger concerns. My life was chaotic and I was looking forward to getting rid of a little bit of the chaos.  I could have as easily responded to the chaos by figuring my life was out of control and I wanted something I could control so OF COURSE the baseboards had better match and the carpet had better be perfect. 

    It's just part of being human. Cancer teaches us we are still human beings, even if some times we forget what's important or take things for granted. 

  • JerzyGrrl
    JerzyGrrl Member Posts: 760
    The biggest thing...

    The biggest thing that's struck me is the "what if," as in "What if this -- how things are going RIGHT NOW -- is as good as it's ever going to get?" What then? It puts a bit more responsibility on me and my attitude.  Also, in this LIVING with cancer thing (Thanks, Fox), I realized that -- OOPS! -- I'm not necessarily focusing on the Living. When you get on the cancer train it's way to easy to start making life a journey that's just a series of station stops that involve scans, surgery, etc which is no way to live, either.   

    I try not to freak about things, which is good. On the other hand, my reactions tend to be in the other direction of not stressing.  Consequently, there's a lot of things I just let slide, and that's on a good day. I'm realizing that it's probably a really sensible idea to pick up the slack where some of those things have slid.  So I've been thinking, What it is that I would really like to be doing, realizing that this may BE as good as it gets, energy-wise? If I'm going to be doing something productive, what is that going to be? If I'm going to be kicking back, chilling, what does that look like?  

    I am NOT picking up one of the many books or lists that tout "1000 Places to Go Before You Die" or "500 Things to Do Before You Die," which have always struck me as kind of stupid. I mean, when else do you get to enjoy any place or anything if it's not before you die? My weird sense of humor is really one of my best friends and I especially appreciate that since I've been on this latest learning gig. 

    Thanks for the writing -- and thinking -- prompt!

    Jerzy

  • foxhd
    foxhd Member Posts: 3,181

    I carefully read that list. But I think it was all wrong. I would think that yelling for help would have been the most common thing but it wasn't even mentioned.