It’s My Cancer and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Started by Leida, May 12, 2015
24 replies for this topic
Leida

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
May 12, 2015
"[W]e need never be ashamed of our tears ..." - Charles Dickens

One of the things I've come to accept about myself is that I cry easily.

What hasn’t come easily is crying in front of other people.

During the diagnostic and treatment phases of cancer, I usually clamped down my tears. As a mother, I felt I had to be strong for my children. As a wife, I saw my husband's pain and, feeling guilty for causing it, didn't want to cause more. As a daughter, sister and friend, I didn't want to worry anyone and tried to keep things positive.

Although I felt no such obligations to my doctors, I hid tears from them too. When my breast surgeon told me I needed a mastectomy, I didn’t let myself lose it until I made it out of her office and onto the elevator. When my plastic surgeon needed before photographs, requiring me to stand there practically naked while a nurse took pictures, I bit my lip to keep from crying. Time after time during testing, I'd say as little as possible to the technician, struggling to just get through it without making a scene.
 
Tears reveal truth and, all too often, I wasn’t able to go there. Instead, I’d quietly walk away and find somewhere safe to cry in private. Why did I hide? As much as I wanted to be strong, it wasn’t about that entirely. Mostly, I think I was overwhelmed with emotions and unable to explain them. How could I make others understand all the emotions I was feeling when I couldn’t fully understand them myself?

I cried a lot during the six and a half months from my 'suspicious' mammogram to my mastectomy, but I did my best to cover my tracks. Two days after my mastectomy, that all ended. That morning, I woke up in a hospital bed with an amputated breast, hip-to-hip incision, bandages, catheter and drains.

With the comforting fog of surgical drugs finally out of my system, there was only the cold, hard reality and I gave in to a breakdown. Nurses came from everywhere to comfort me and I let them. I was no longer hiding. Instead, I outed myself completely as someone who had hit the wall and needed whatever help I could get to put myself back together.

Talk about a watershed moment.

There was no hiding the depth of my emotions anymore and my nurse navigator encouraged me to start therapy. I met a therapist once a week for a year and I cried through at least 95 percent of our time together. In fact, when I asked her why she thought I was making progress when all I did was talk and cry, her answer surprised me.

It seems that committing to toughing it out to work through the pain and tears is what therapy is all about.
 
Since then, I’m better at embracing vulnerability and the tears it evokes. I now work as a patient educator with the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. Meeting with young doctors, medical students and student nurses, I tell my story and answer questions about living with cancer as a whole person.
 
Now when I tear up, which happens every time I talk about cancer and my husband and children, I make no effort whatsoever to hide it.
 
Tears are an honest reaction to cancer. Over the years, I’ve learned that hiding them only made my struggle harder and denied others the chance to recognize my suffering and be supportive.  
 
Do you hide your tears from family, friends and medical professionals? If not, was it hard to open up and show vulnerability? Let’s talk about it in the discussion group.
 
 
 
 
Report

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3

Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 12, 2015
"[W]e need never be ashamed of our tears ..." - Charles Dickens

One of the things I've come to accept about myself is that I cry easily.

What hasn’t come easily is crying in front of other people.

During the diagnostic and treatment phases of cancer, I usually clamped down my tears. As a mother, I felt I had to be strong for my children. As a wife, I saw my husband's pain and, feeling guilty for causing it, didn't want to cause more. As a daughter, sister and friend, I didn't want to worry anyone and tried to keep things positive.

Although I felt no such obligations to my doctors, I hid tears from them too. When my breast surgeon told me I needed a mastectomy, I didn’t let myself lose it until I made it out of her office and onto the elevator. When my plastic surgeon needed before photographs, requiring me to stand there practically naked while a nurse took pictures, I bit my lip to keep from crying. Time after time during testing, I'd say as little as possible to the technician, struggling to just get through it without making a scene.
 
Tears reveal truth and, all too often, I wasn’t able to go there. Instead, I’d quietly walk away and find somewhere safe to cry in private. Why did I hide? As much as I wanted to be strong, it wasn’t about that entirely. Mostly, I think I was overwhelmed with emotions and unable to explain them. How could I make others understand all the emotions I was feeling when I couldn’t fully understand them myself?

I cried a lot during the six and a half months from my 'suspicious' mammogram to my mastectomy, but I did my best to cover my tracks. Two days after my mastectomy, that all ended. That morning, I woke up in a hospital bed with an amputated breast, hip-to-hip incision, bandages, catheter and drains.

With the comforting fog of surgical drugs finally out of my system, there was only the cold, hard reality and I gave in to a breakdown. Nurses came from everywhere to comfort me and I let them. I was no longer hiding. Instead, I outed myself completely as someone who had hit the wall and needed whatever help I could get to put myself back together.

Talk about a watershed moment.

There was no hiding the depth of my emotions anymore and my nurse navigator encouraged me to start therapy. I met a therapist once a week for a year and I cried through at least 95 percent of our time together. In fact, when I asked her why she thought I was making progress when all I did was talk and cry, her answer surprised me.

It seems that committing to toughing it out to work through the pain and tears is what therapy is all about.
 
Since then, I’m better at embracing vulnerability and the tears it evokes. I now work as a patient educator with the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. Meeting with young doctors, medical students and student nurses, I tell my story and answer questions about living with cancer as a whole person.
 
Now when I tear up, which happens every time I talk about cancer and my husband and children, I make no effort whatsoever to hide it.
 
Tears are an honest reaction to cancer. Over the years, I’ve learned that hiding them only made my struggle harder and denied others the chance to recognize my suffering and be supportive.  
 
Do you hide your tears from family, friends and medical professionals? If not, was it hard to open up and show vulnerability? Let’s talk about it in the discussion group.
 
 
 
 
Report
stampurr

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 17, 2015
I'm a cryer, but suck it up when anyone is around. I HATE crying in front of people and wish I had more control. If I could, NO one would EVER see me cry. (about anything) It only makes it worse. I find that cars are the best place to cry in private, closet is #2, and shower #3.
Report
Bma

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 20, 2015
I was never a "cryer" until I went through cancer treatment and now I can't seem to mention anything about my experience without crying. I wish I could have some control because I have had the faucet come on at some less than desirable times. I'm sure I've made some people feel awkward. I have discovered though that there are many people who are compassionate and encouraging. As I sit here alone I'm crying and I wonder if as time goes on I'll become better at controlling the outward sign of all the sadness that comes from having cancer.
Report
Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 20, 2015
I know it's uncomfortable to be vulnerable in front of other people, Bma. Please try to keep focusing on the compassionate and encouraging responses you get and deserve. I'm sorry you're crying alone and hope can let other people support you in your time of sadness.
Report
raindrop

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
The only times I cried were when I was first diagnosed, and then the first week of radiation. Other than that it's as though I'm numb. I can tear up at sad commercials, but for some reason I can't cry about my cancer, my mastectomy or even the radiation side-effects or medication side-effects. Of course, it doesn't help that my husband and son seem to think that now I've gone through treatment (I finished 36 sessions of radiation a month ago) that I'm cancer free and shouldn't have any worries or thoughts about cancer anymore.
Report
Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
I'm sorry you're not feeling supported at home, raindrop. It's no wonder you don't feel comfortable crying about your cancer. I understand the pressure to be over cancer and even wrote an earlier article for CURE about it. (How to Cope with the Pressure to be Over Cancer) Keep reaching out to find support; you're not alone.
Report
Stan2

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
Thanks, Debbie. I am not a crier, never have been except once or twice. The first time was when my mom was diagnosed as terminal from breast cancer after fighting it for 8 years back in the late 70s. She and dad did not raise me to cry, but, accept it, handle the situation and go forward. That's the way their rural families/communities were back then. Nor do I have the genes to cry. I have found it is somewhat genetic, but also cultural/social. Anyway, we are what we are. My spouse cries with almost every other sentence (an exaggeration, of course), but it is as much from joy than sadness or fear. I tend to be an optimist. I have had non-Hodgkins lymphoma (non-curable but treatable) for about 15 years or so and am going through my first chemo with good results so far. I hesitated to share this with my religious community, but decided to do so publicly there and was overwhelmed with genuine caring, concern and offers of help. Once I spoke out about it, it was accepted and we all go forward now with them checking in on me from time to time. It has helped to have an extremely loving, supportive wife. So, if it fits you, go for it, let it out, share it with your friends and close communities. You might be surprised at the grateful, wonderful, supportive response. Sorry for this long diatribe, but that is what came out. 8-)
Report
Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
I loved every word of your diatribe, Stan! Thank you for your wonderful advice and I wish you and your lovely wife all the very best.
Report
Momared

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
I am a huge crier and it only got worse when I was diagnosed 5 years ago! I cried every time anyone tried to talk to me about my diagnosis! Funny though, after all I've been through, bi-lateral mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemo and Diep reconstruction, now I can finally talk about it all without crying! I am still emotional with my family but most of them are criers too!! We all support each other! :)
Report
Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 21, 2015
When it comes to healing, support really is the key. Good for you, Momared, for taking the time to work through your emotions and being able to lean on the support of your family. Take good care.
Report

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3

You must log in to use this feature, please click here to login.
$auto_registration$