I am stalling in making my appointments to see my doctors in 2016. It isn’t rational. I know I need to be monitored and checked out regularly. I am just tired of my cancers. Sometimes people are tired of their spouse or a family member or their home or job. Today, I am tired of cancer.
Ironically, it is probably normal sometimes to be tired of something that has frightened me, worn me down and taken its pound of flesh in so many ways. Sheepishly, I feel a little stupid — tired of this problem? The universe could certainly send me a different one to keep me busy for a while. No, thank you. I am not sending out a request for another problem.
No news really can be good news. How much should I go hunting for cancer news? What research should I be reading? What tests should I be requesting? What medical information (doctor appointments) should I be getting settled? What is rational versus overly concerned?
Living with one or more cancer diagnosis is living a life painfully aware of life's uncertainty, and it is ongoing. The uncertainty — whether someone is newly diagnosed or twenty years out — never goes away. The uncertainty wears a person down. A person wants a break from the uncertainty. Cancer survivors live with the uncertainty that a problem (cancer) may or may not pop up again for the rest of their lives.
Growth does sometimes come through problems: relationship changes, job changes, health changes and more. Why do some of us use negatives to create positives? My cancers have helped me grow my faith and deepen my relationships and focus better on priorities. That said, I would be the last person to ever call either of my cancers “gifts.” No. Absolutely not. A disease is not a gift. A life of uncertainty isn’t a special present.Maybe there are just some moments in our life where we desire a breather or a break. Sometimes we actually get one: We find a distraction that allows us look in a different direction. Sometimes we just want a break while we continue foward. Excuse me, could I just have a break from cancer care, cancer appointments, cancer thoughts, cancer concerns, cancer worries and cancer itself? How do cancer survivors catch a break?
Sometimes I catch breaks by giving my worries to God, distracting myself with what is around me, practicing gratitude for the things going right and reminding myself, ironically, that I am not in charge. Does it really make sense to worry about things I can’t control? On the other hand, the feelings of worry, after what I have been through, still make me feel weary.
Yes, it is normal to feel this way sometimes. What cancer survivor doesn’t crave some version of normal? How do I know when to try to take a break and when it would be better to work through my cancer thoughts and feelings?
How do you take a break from cancer? Maybe I just need to get those doctor appointments made, put on the calendar and then give myself permission to take a break from my cancers. I will give it to God and try to move my life forward in other directions in the meantime. Please tell me, how do you catch a break from your cancer? How do you cope when the only constant is uncertainty?
I lose myself at the movies... Watching Netflix and seeing a movie I loved, transports me to a time before cancer. A new movie that sweeps me off my feet... I love being someone else for a couple hours. A good book will do the same thing (but sometimes I need the sensory overload of a movie.)
I also meet new people, play with new ideas. Frequently I don't mention my cancer in those settings. At this point, my hair is growing back, so I am passing as a healthy person. This disease isn't who I am.
I've struggled and coped and have tried to stay positive every day since my first breast cancer diagnosis in 2000, and again in 2011. I returned to my busy job as an RN, smiling everyday for my patients. I raised my 4 children with my extremely supportive husband, I never let my extended family members and friends see me in distress or sadness or uncertainty and I was minimally sad when I lost my hair.....twice. However, since the diagnosis in 2013 of my Stage IV breast cancer I have thought about the uncertainty of my life almost everyday. I cried, I was depressed, I felt incredibly guilty having to tell my children, my family, my friends, my husband and I felt guilty about feeling guilty because I had survived for so long when so many women have died, and I was so very tired of it all. I felt I was ready for it to be over. But then one day I looked at myself in the mirror and had a long hard talk with myself and I'm better. I read, I color, I allow myself to take a nap, I watch movies, I go for walks (even though I don't want to) and I enjoy the here and now and most of all, at 15 months out, I remember why I don't want it to be over..........and my life goes on.
I know this tiredness too. I look for things that give me joy. I plant events or treats and trips out in the future like waypoints to home in on. And I have adopted an Acceptance of my situation (stage 4 renal cancer) along side a motto that Anything Can Happen; I may die tonight or in 10 years; because of cancer or despite it; when it's my time I will leave; that moment in time is not my call. In the meantime I try to live a conscious life that I enjoy and am grateful for.
I totally relate to this article. I have cancelled, delayed and put off tests and appointments on several occasions. I get tired of the medical traffic in my life. I've also not cooperated with following recommended treatments my doctor wants me to do. I find I choose a quality of life over an unknown number or percentage it will maybe prolong my life. The greatest distraction that has saved me from this weariness was when I began dragon boating with a breast cancer survivor team! It has improved my energy, I feel fit, it's been a great group of people who get it, and now I do this year round. If you don't know what this sport is, I explain more at https://hiddendragons.wordpress.com/
A great distraction for me is to color in an adult coloring book. Using the vibrant colors of brush pens and to see the end product brings me contentment down deep within. Was thinking that I wished I had known about this past time two years ago when I had my stem cell transplant for follicular lymphoma. It would have made those six weeks in the hospital go by quicker. I believe, for me, that to know the truth is much better than the fear of the unknown. At least there is a concrete piece of information that I can now deal with rather than doing the " what if" game and driving me and those around me crazy. What have I given up since my cancer diagnosis nine years ago? The biggest thing is dairy in all forms as I believe in the China Study and the doctors that are involved in it. Also, I really have my binge eating under control because all that processed stuff just can't be good for my body. Being aware of the chemicals that we ingest, put on our bodies and smell within our environment has really opened my eyes big time. Our bodies don't know how to process these chemicals and thus disease can occur. So I may not look as young as I could or smell nice or even have a home that smells sweet like it use to, but I no longer am willing to subject myself to those harmful toxins. It's a choice that I have made.
Barbara. thanks for sharing your thought and behaviors. The opposite is happening for me. I have seen my 8 doctors, with 3 more to go, pulling together enough info to make a decision of taking a chemo pill "vacation" for at least 3 months. I want to see what improves, what doesn't. Feb 19, marks 14 years since I found THE LUMP. This stage 4 is so different tan my first 2 rounds of treatment. I am tired of treatment, doctors, etc, but am also grateful for most of them, for their support and information. Starting the 3rd week in February I have no medical appointment except my Immun Infusion every 3 weeks, and I will try acupuncture once a week for neuropathy. The other miracle that has happened, that in taking some men's clothes to a Repite Medical Homeless Project, and they asked me to volunteer professionally! I try to go once a week to the staffing review, and also once a month to the planning committee. WOW! It is so good to see my brain working at something other than me. Cancer can also get boring!
SO thanks again for your honesty and for those comments I read. You all help tremendously. Janet
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