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The Ups and Downs of Cancer Survivorship

I know that once you are a cancer survivor, you're always a cancer survivor, but will that sinking feeling of no control ever go away?
PUBLISHED August 30, 2018
Kate Beland does not believe that cancer defines her. She is an athlete, a marathoner, a mother, a wife and a writer. When she is not conducting her three-ring circus act, she is busy kicking late stage melanoma's butt and keeping herself sane through her writing and running: or

I've been in a weird kind of funk the past couple of weeks, and it seems to be coming to an all-time high right now. It is beginning to feel like each week I have been hit with another piece of bad news in the world of cancer. I've been living my life to the best that I can every 89 days until the next blood work and scans, and I really don't even think about cancer – like ever – until this past month.

I have been watching people lose their loved ones to this beast. I have watched more people like me, healthy and fit, get diagnosed with various types of cancer. I have friends still under treatment that is like a slave to the worst of all masters. And I have friends who are fighting the good fight, but keep receiving bad outcome after bad outcome.

It has started to wear me down. It is making it increasingly difficult to fake it until I make it, or my new mantra, fake it until I become it. I thought I had become it – that strong warrior who shut the door. But lately, I feel like I've been held hostage, had all my defenses stripped. It's trying to break down the door.

Thinking of all these people, my heart breaks a little more. I want to find all the right things to do for them. But having been there, I know that there is no right. I want to send the words of love and encouragement, but I know that is different for each person. I feel paralyzed, wanting to scoop them all up and save them somehow. It leaves me feeling helpless even though I have lived this, and I probably understand and can empathize better than any non-cancer fighter out there.

And so, I am stuck in this place I cannot quite describe. Normally, I would pile on the miles running and that would give me some reprieve. But with a pretty bad overuse injury, I have to limit my miles. This leaves me stuck in my own head with no place to escape.

It makes me wonder if this ever goes away completely. Will I always have these ups and downs? I know once a cancer survivor, always a cancer survivor because of the lifetime of check-ups most of us will have to make sure it doesn't rear its head again. But, will that sinking feeling of no control ever go away?

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions or the big cleanse that starts after Labor Day or these other ways that people try to improve themselves and hold themselves accountable. But I do believe in self-improvement, and I think I have to find a way to claw my way out of this dark place. Normally, I would just sign up for another long race, but I am going to have to find something else for the time being. I need a reset to snap myself out of it. I'm not quite sure yet what it's going to be, but I think it may coincide with Labor Day weekend because it is also my birthday that weekend.

Maybe with another year of wisdom coming up, I can pick myself back up and be that positive model of strength with a little reset. For today, I will have to fake it until I make it and with time, I hope to become it again.


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