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How has Cancer changed you?

saltycandy13
Posts: 167
Joined: Dec 2017

I have to ask.  Many of you warriors know that I was and still am traumatized to think I had uterine cancer.  What the hell?  I never smoked, don't drink, didn't do anything except put a little transdermal patch on my body for hot flashes which are sooo bad.  And according to my gyno oncologist, my tumor was estrogen driven.  But why?  I took the Progesterone that made me bleed every 3 months like a dog in heat.  Apparently it didn't work.

Always had a thick endometrium anywhere fro 9mm to 5mm.  Doctor was never happy.  Had 3 D/C's in 5 years.  This last one was pre cancer which to me was baloney because I figured what's the "pre" stuff?  It's like being a little pregnant.  You are or you aren't.

Anyway, Adenocarcinoma stage 1a confined to endometrium.  The Lord has blessed me.  One week before my 60th birthday.

So since, then I've changed a lot about life and my attitude.  I want to work with Refugees here in our city.  My Priest is helping me with that.  I ain't no Angelina Jolie, but I do admire her work.  

I also want to help here with ladies' cancers.

And I am thinking of spending some hard earned money.  I love Christian Louboutin shoes and whoa, they are expensive but I think I deserve them.

I want plastic surgery.

I want more travel.  England and Las Vegas are my favorite places on the planet.

I also look at my age.  I made it to 60 now.  And I do wonder about my mortality.  But I'm still here until I'm needed up there.

Please comment if you like how cancer changed you?

If you are still fighting, what's your mind set?  If you aren't, what's your goals?

Karen

MugsBugs
Posts: 109
Joined: Jan 2018

I don’t think cancer has changed me yet except to know that I am part of a new sisterhood!  Half of my friends and family have had hysterectomies for one reason or another (my Mom had one at 39) but none that I know of because of cancer.  Now I worry about my daughters.  

i dont Have a body for a bikini and now a bikini is out of the question.  My husband told my son “it looks like your Mom has been shot by a machine gun across the belly”. It is actually quite true but now that the bruising is going away it isn’t quite so obvious.  The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought beforehand.

All in all I feel lucky to have caught it early and am planning on enjoying my summer this year!  

i Read another post about being cold and shawls being provided to chemo patients.  last Year I took my Dad for iron infusions where they also did chemo and I think making some shawls might be something I might do.  I cant watch TV without multitasking so this might be something I can do.

 

 

saltycandy13
Posts: 167
Joined: Dec 2017

Hey Mugsbugs:  glad I made you laugh.  Gotta have a sense of humor with this although that it in itself, is quite a challenge.

I'm glad your healing is going well.  I think mine would be too if I hadn't gotten that blood clot. Still have it on the left side.  It doesn't seem to be improving so I guess next month I might have to have another procedure but no big deal.

Yes to the plastic surgery!  Found a good surgeon.  But not yet ready to get cut into just yet.

My husband bought a bunch of bears (stuffed animals) and we went up to Roswell Park to the children's ward to distribute them.  All the kids have cancer so we thought we would cheer them up.  Unfortunately, the staff there couldn't give them the bears because they worry about their low resistance to bacteria and germs so instead, the adults with cancer took them.

It was fun to see them attached to their IV polls when they walked the halls.  Just little things.  Anything for a smile.Smile

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 546
Joined: Oct 2009

Karen, Until someone walks in our footsteps they don’ t know what we go through.

That being said, I have changed. I have a deeper faith. In some of my lowest points it has been my conversations with God that got me through the toughest moments. I am more focused on mindfulness and staying in the present moment. I have always enjoyed nature but now I REALLY see the beauty and am awed by sunrises and sunsets. I love the change of weather and NEVER complain about the cold in MN.

I now have more empathy for anyone who has health challenges....I mean I can feel in my heart their suffering.

My career has totally taken a back seat. In fact I no longer am a corporate officer. I work 6 months a year and spend the other six months at the lake (I am blessed to be able to afford not to have to work at the age of 61. )

Plastic surgery- sure why not? I haven’ t had any but wouldn’t hesitate if I wanted to.

Overall my life is more enjoyable despite the physical changes in my body since surgery, chemo and radiation. Also, I eat more organic food. I no longer notice the long abdominal incision scar or port scar. I am VERY selective about who and where I spend the gift of one day. We trade one day of our life each day so I try to make it a good day. I have also learned to be more selfish and do more things that I want to do. Exercise more. Material things overall are less important to me. I have donated many possessions because I realize how unimportant possessions are. 

My husband and I continue to have a wonderful relationship the same as before my cancer. Each day is a blessing.  No regrets!!!

Lori

JinVa's picture
JinVa
Posts: 29
Joined: Dec 2017

Still early days and processing all of this but on Feb 4, World Cancer Awareness Day, I sent out emails to some of my female friends sharing my story and imploring them to be vigilant about their gynecologic health. I then posted this to my Facebook page (sorry it's long; feel free to skip!):

"I am not going to ask anyone to "like", "copy and paste" or repost. I'm just going to share my own cancer story in the hopes that it might be useful to you or someone you know.

I was diagnosed last year with endometrial/uterine cancer and am recovering from surgery. I am one of he luckiest of the lucky -- Stage 1a Grade 1, so no additional treatment needed. This was only possbile because my primary care provider was attentive to an offhand remark I made during my annual physical and then personally made referral appointments for me. I continued working and traveling throughout, logging 7 trips to Asia and missing less than one week of work. I am incredibly fortunate to work for a great company with a fabulous team and for a boss who never once wavered in his confidence in me. 

I am also blessed beyond measure to have the support of my awesome husband and daughter, they are my heart and soul.

Early detection and intervention is key. Please be vigilant about your health and don't be afraid to have frank conversations with your loved ones. You might save a life. I hope and pray you never hear the words "you have cancer" but if you do, please know that I am here for you. Thanks for reading."

**************

The context for this is that until then I had told almost no-one outside of my family and boss. I was terrified that clients would cancel contracts, staff would quit, people would write me off, and that friends would blame or judge me. My team did nor even know that I had surgery until after the pathology report came back. I was so scared and lonely last year until I found this wonderful community of kind, caring, knowledgeable ladies. I wish I had actually joined earlier. 

Changes? I don't quite know. But I am trying harder to reach out, reconnect with friends and make time for something other than work and more work; Lori (Northwoodsgirl), op Karen (SaltyCandy13) are such inspirational people along with so many others here. All I want is NED and healing for everyone. 

Thanks

 

saltycandy13
Posts: 167
Joined: Dec 2017

thanks my friends.  Beautiful stories.  I appreciate the input and compliments.  I feel the exact same way you do.  Times like this make me realize we are what we are and we surround ourselves with good people.  And that's what we have here:  great people!

JinVa:  your story is more than heart warming!  thank you for enlightenment.

Northwoodsgirl:  I envy you for where you live!  My favorite state and you feel the same way as I do.  Let's spoil ourselves rotten.  LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!Cool

 

Cass83's picture
Cass83
Posts: 151
Joined: Feb 2017

What a great question to post! I have been a Christian for 30 years (Sunday school teacher, children's church leader etc) but after my diagnosis and journey through surgery, chemo, radiation, my faith and relationship with the Lord grew stronger. There is a quote from Joni Erickson-Tada 

“When life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus,with imitating him, and quoting him, and speaking of him. But only in suffering will be KNOW Jesus. In Rick Warren's book “The Purpose Driven Life” he says “We learn things about God in suffering that we can't learn any other way.” I found these both to be so true. It was only after starting my battle with cancer that I learned to have a closer walk with the Lord.

My relationship with my husband grew too. We had a good marriage, and it became stronger. He had to do things for me we never thought he would, and he did everything with no complaints. 

I want to help others that go through cancer diagnosis now too. If someone local is diagnosed, I try to reach out and see how I can help them. If someone online is, I message them and try to encourage them. Cancer does not mean death. 

Physically some things have changed (no more periods!! yay!), but I am back to teaching my fitnesses classes at the Y, and my husband and I walk every day. The plusses of going through this journey are far more than the negatives.

 

survivingsu's picture
survivingsu
Posts: 134
Joined: Apr 2013

I think my cancer experience just reinforced how precious time really is.  I lost my Dad the year before my cancer adventure, and my Mom a few years post treatment.  Losing them was harder for me to face than all the cancer stuff.  But the cancer experience did contribute to the following for me:

1) I'm afraid I am more paranoid about health stuff now, it's hard to know what are usual aging things, etc.  The closer I get to an appt, the more paranoid I am.  I thought that would go away by now, but it seems to lurk.

2) I have learned from my cancer treatments just how talented people in the health field are!  It was easy for me to put my trust in doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.  I feel so lucky to live where I do and in this era.  It wasn't that long ago that my particular cancer would have been fatal.

3) I surprised myself.  I did what I needed to do to get through this.  I was definitely stronger than I realized, and I was mighty sick at the time.  I was never an athelete, am overweight, and at the time of diagnosis I was 50, but I did it!  Keep on keeping on!  Knowing this helps boost my confidence and helps me have a more realistic perspective on things and not sweat the little things of life as much.

4) Hate to be a downer, but I also learned how unfair cancer is.  Why do some get through it and others don't?  Not right.  I hope someday everyone will get through whatever, period.  I hope someday no one will even come down with cancer.  Maybe a vaccine to cancer proof everyone in all countries, all ages.  So I learned you can't take things for granted, and to enjoy what time you & your loved ones have.

I'm sure I will continue to be changed by my experience, and just growing in general.  My Mom was a big fan of "sefl-actualization", so I too am working on that in my small way.

 

ckdgedmom's picture
ckdgedmom
Posts: 166
Joined: Oct 2017

I"m still behind on posts thanks to being locked in a theater for 2 weeks with kids...we did Legally Blonde the Musical...I cried through our last performance because not only will I miss Elle and the show but also because I am so grateful that God spared me so I could be there to work the show and see the kids perform. Last year we did "Curtains" (ironic...I was praying it wasn't curtains for me) and I was undergoing chemo. We literally scheduled my chemo around the show. I do costumes and somehow with the help of my team of students we got it done. This year it was much easier not having chemo while trying to make so many pink things!

Cancer has changed me because after a year of fighting for my life I now feel like I can make some plans...so my bestie and I are planning to go to Italy in 2 years. We are saving up so we can do it first class all the way and do everything we want. It's a trip I have always wanted to take. I always thouht i would do so with a man I love but right now there is no man...so I won't wait on the man, I will do it myself...

speaking of a man I now feel like maybe I can have a relationship...maybe meet a nice fella who will make me smile. I've been divorced almost 7 years. Had a brief relationship with a (too young) man and learned a lot and decided that I was worthy of love (he taught me that...my ex made me feel like I was not). After that ended (he moved and was too young) I focused on getting my son through high school and on to college. Two months after leaving him in his dorm the cancer decided it needed attention and that's when I realized my body was in trouble. So for the last 6 years I have not dated...between raising kids and cancer there was no time for someone else in my world. But I am ready now. I would like to have someone to come home to. Someone to share my life with. That would be nice...

I am focusing on being healthy now...I do my workouts and have recently discovered a place that will stretch you...it's like a massage but feels even better. I have made that a part of my wellness routine.

I love my job...I love my students. It was a lot of fun sharing or musical with our audiences. There is a song in the show called "So Much Better" and that is how I plan to look at life---it is so much better NOW. 

Cancer has softed my edges...made me more appreciative of what I have, my life, my health, my friends and family...it has made me look at each day as a gift. I try to look at it as a blessing and not a curse---I am being used to God's purpose and hopefully something about me has helped my doctors. My radiology team came to the show and many of my kids and collegues got to thank them for helping me to live. It was very special and emotional and they have said that I inspire them..that means a lot...

My advice: I sound like a Nike commercial but JUST DO IT!

If you want plastic surgery: GO FOR IT (I have...tummy tuck and boob job and I am so glad I did...)

Make plans to travel...

Eat the good things...drink the fun things...

Go all out...or just take some time to rest and relax...

Don't put off anything...

And to quote Auntie Mame: LIVE LIVE LIVE! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!!!!!

saltycandy13
Posts: 167
Joined: Dec 2017

Thank you all.  I was sort of afraid to  ask this question, thinking maybe it was just me that felt "different."  But it's great see I'm normal in my feelings.

I will admit that I am paranoid now about cancer more so than before.  I keep telling myself this wasn't supposed to happen.  Having a mother that is 92 and no cancer and a father that died at 89 and no cancer, made me think I was indestructable.  But you can't go by that.  

As far as Italy goes, I was there several years ago.  Go to Venice, Florence, Milan and Rome.  The Vatican is beautiful.  Maybe you will see the Pope!  My Priest saw him.

And I'm still buying expensive shoes.  I only get mad when I have no place to wear them.  I'm keeping Christian Louboutin in business.

For my birthday only one week after surgery, my mother surprised me with a Louis Vuitton handbag.  I was so happy and thrilled.  I never owned one.  It's my first.  Now I want a Chanel.  LOL  Silly things, I know but it's whatever floats your boat.

I also want to see Ed Sheeran in concert.  My favorite.

Karen

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 546
Joined: Oct 2009

Karen, Thank you so much for posting the deep and thoughtful question. And thank you all my beautiful sisters for sharing how this life threatening and life taking cancer has in many ways changed our lives in so many positive ways despite the pain and suffering (physical and emotional) .  Unless one has battled cancer one would not totally understand. These postings are so important to us all. 

Soup52's picture
Soup52
Posts: 902
Joined: Jan 2016

Yes, I feel like I appreciate life in general much more. First it was live to see my daughter get married and next the birth of my first grandson . My daughter lives far away in Texas. We were there for the birth around thanksgiving and came back at Christmas. Now I, anxious to go again. First I need to recover from my knee replacement surgery. I wasn’t sure I could bother with that because I didn’t want to use all our family’s money but then I said what the heck and I, living for the other daughter to get married in June. Life is precious! One of my friends husband’s died suddenly while she was out of town. I just want to live life to the fullest and experience everything I can.

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 546
Joined: Oct 2009

You got a new knee! I am so glad you had the surgery sooner rather than later. Just think how much fun you will have at your other daughters wedding and playing with your grandchildren. Three of my friends got knee replacements this Fall and they are all doing well. Your living each day to its fullest is a shared experience. Grateful! All the best with your knee recovery! 

Lori

Soup52's picture
Soup52
Posts: 902
Joined: Jan 2016

Thank you Northwoods Girl:) I’m doing great! It’s been a lot of hard work but my knee bend is up to 90% so my doc did I’m ahead of tha game. I hope to visit,y grandson in early to mid March:)

ConnieSW's picture
ConnieSW
Posts: 1456
Joined: Jun 2012

Glad to hear your rehab is going so well. I fear I'll be facing this in the future. 

Moped7946's picture
Moped7946
Posts: 40
Joined: May 2016

It has taken me getting into the second year after diagnosis and subsequent treatment (surgery, chemo and radation) to see how I am changing. I am through flying around by the seat of my pants and living all willy nilly. That attitude may have helped me somewhat during treatment but it isn't getting me anywhere now and frankly it never did. Finally cut a very unhealthy relationship out of my life and asking for respect instead of just taking whatever happens in life and leaving it that way. Now I ask for what I want and actually THINK about what I want. Almost completely cut out alcohol and no longer am I smoking random cigarettes to block out anxious thoughts.

evolo58
Posts: 293
Joined: Dec 2017

Pros

Before I had UPSC, I would always be awkward around cancer patients. What would I say to them? Now, it's pretty straightforward. I wish them successful treatments and many, many, many years of NED. Simple and heartfelt.

On that note, I know what NOT to say around them. One popular thing that people say goes something like this:

Person: Oh, you are battling cancer? My ________ had cancer.
Me: Oh? How is he/she doing?
Person: He/she died. 

Sometimes, the person brings up another person, and that person died as well.

I am guessing that people who have serious cardiology issues, had a stroke, etc., often get similar cheery stories. I wonder what on earth is wrong with people who do this. What are you thinking, you dolts? If this is some way you're working out your grief, this is a really poor time to do that. Honestly, I feel like hitting these people with a shoe. Skip the shoe. A well-worn workboot would be a better choice. 

I suppose that one lesson I'm learning is if someone says this, don't ask. Most likely, though, the person will tell you anyway.

I appreciate mundane existence more. There is so much beauty in the everyday.

I appreciate my loved ones more. If you have one good person in your life who cares about you ... or even a pet ... you are blessed. You are really blessed.

I'm not doing the extreme diet and lifestyle changes that some are doing here, but this does not mean I shouldn't be examining my lifestyle and seeing where I can improve. Cut down the sugar a litlte. Lose a few pounds. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Look into mindfulness. I strongly believe that a stressed-out body and mind can cause all sorts of mischief. I can use some changes. And not tomorrow. NOW.

Statistics don't make sense, use variables that don't apply to you, are often outdated, drawing from much-older cases. If you want to be mentally focused, you should not rely on them.

Stages don't even seem to make sense. One thing I intend to ask my gyno-onco is why was my Type 2 cancer, which was more similar to Ovarian cancer than Type 1 endometrioid cancer, considered a Stage 4B in uterine, but would NOT have been in ovarian? In ovarian, I would have been Stage 3B or 3C, with a better prognosis and perhaps more access to treatments. Looking at my physical geography, the location where the surgeon found the tumor was right between the ovaries. It's not as if it was in my pinky nail! 

Not all stages are the same. Not every person is the same. I always need to take that into consideration.

I have met some of the strongest, most fantastic people on the planet ... those who embody courage, faith and strength. 

My own faith has been getting a much-needed rehab.

Cons

A increasing intolerance of those who pull that stunt in the Pros section. Honestly, what is the problem with these folks?

An increasing annoyance with people who push their health regimens on me. I've had some people pressure me to try all sorts of treatments. I don't mind if someone suggests alternative treatments. Fine. I acknowledge  I've learned from some of them. But one person on FB just won't let up with cannabis treatments. She pushes and pushes. She gives me links to where I can get the stuff. She won't stop.

I have no qualms if that's what you do, as long as it doesn't impair your judgment when driving or dealing with life-and-death situations, such a a nurse. What you do in your own home ... I have no interest in butting into your life. You do you. But I am working with my care team, integrating some alternative meds, but ALWAYS working with the team. My daughter is wondering if this woman is some sort of pusher .... the woman is that insistent. I'm about two seconds away from unfriending her. 

Yup, like many here, now every time I get a cough, ache, pain, bump, etc., I'm afraid. I'm afraid that assassin might be lurking in the corner, ready to strike. What is encouraging is that talking with other women in my situation, this is 100% normal. I will never take ANY scan or test as routine again, and will probably always stress out over them. This all started for me with freakin' kidney stones! Maybe time will ease the fear, but reading here, it might not. There is a sort of mental trauma after something like cancer, a heart attack, stroke, etc. I don't think you can ever completely return to the old you again. And I need to accept that.

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