Searching for Someone to Talk To

Started by Tonia, February 13, 2015
13 replies for this topic
Tonia

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
February 13, 2015
Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care. Jerry Cantrell

The lead up to my mastectomy was a time of crushing anxiety. But, never once in those six and a half months, did I find anyone I could talk to about what it really felt like to have cancer.

It’s not that I didn’t try. I looked to friends and family, but backed off when guilt at causing them pain collided with my intense desire to protect them from that pain. And, in truth, there was just too much I couldn’t explain and they couldn’t understand.

Of course, they kept trying to support me emotionally and I’ll always be grateful they did, but there was only so much they could do.

At one point, I reached out to the only other person I knew who had cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and her drug treatment caused permanent, disabling side effects.  

We didn’t know each other well, but she shared her struggle with being sick and “feeling like an old lady” in her 40s. She grieved the job her disability forced her to quit. As a wife and mother, she wrestled with guilt and anxiety as cancer wreaked havoc on her family.

Eventually, she sought out emotional support at The Wellness Community and, as she told me about the sense of community, sharing and programs offered there, I saw her entire demeanor lighten.

So, why didn’t I follow her lead and drive right over there? Quite simply, I didn’t feel entitled as a stage 0 cancer patient to walk in the front door. (Just as talking with her about her treatment made me feel guilty for struggling with my problems.)  I left thinking it was up to me to put my head down and get over cancer as fast as I could.   

That’s how it went until I woke up from my surgery. Flat on my back and punctured with tubes, I was desperate for emotional support and finally able to accept it. Thankfully, I found myself in a cancer center that offered psychosocial support services and was immediately connected with a nurse navigator. 

That was the beginning of my emotional recuperation.

For over a year I clung to my nurse navigator and oncology therapist, who I could talk to about anything without any fear or guilt. I tapped into the power of “me too” when I talked with other patient/survivors.  It wasn’t always easy to be vulnerable, but finding someone to talk to brought me hope and our connection gave me joy.

Just the other day, I had the opportunity to express my gratitude for those who heard me, by being the one who listened. I volunteer with the Cancer Hope Network, which matches cancer patient/survivors and their family members with support volunteers with similar cancer experiences. I was matched with a woman facing a mastectomy and a diagnosis very close to mine.

During our 90-minute conversation, we talked about the surgery, but mostly about how cancer affects her sense of self and body image. We talked a lot about her husband and how hard it was to know how to discuss her cancer with her young daughter. (All issues I dealt with six years ago.)

At the end of our conversation, she told me she felt better.

So did I.

If you’re searching for someone to talk to, consider calling the Cancer Hope Network’s toll-free number. (1-800-552-4366) All calls are free and confidential.  

Have you found someone to talk to? Who do you reach out to? Let me know in the comments below. I answer every one.
 
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 13, 2015
Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care. Jerry Cantrell

The lead up to my mastectomy was a time of crushing anxiety. But, never once in those six and a half months, did I find anyone I could talk to about what it really felt like to have cancer.

It’s not that I didn’t try. I looked to friends and family, but backed off when guilt at causing them pain collided with my intense desire to protect them from that pain. And, in truth, there was just too much I couldn’t explain and they couldn’t understand.

Of course, they kept trying to support me emotionally and I’ll always be grateful they did, but there was only so much they could do.

At one point, I reached out to the only other person I knew who had cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and her drug treatment caused permanent, disabling side effects.  

We didn’t know each other well, but she shared her struggle with being sick and “feeling like an old lady” in her 40s. She grieved the job her disability forced her to quit. As a wife and mother, she wrestled with guilt and anxiety as cancer wreaked havoc on her family.

Eventually, she sought out emotional support at The Wellness Community and, as she told me about the sense of community, sharing and programs offered there, I saw her entire demeanor lighten.

So, why didn’t I follow her lead and drive right over there? Quite simply, I didn’t feel entitled as a stage 0 cancer patient to walk in the front door. (Just as talking with her about her treatment made me feel guilty for struggling with my problems.)  I left thinking it was up to me to put my head down and get over cancer as fast as I could.   

That’s how it went until I woke up from my surgery. Flat on my back and punctured with tubes, I was desperate for emotional support and finally able to accept it. Thankfully, I found myself in a cancer center that offered psychosocial support services and was immediately connected with a nurse navigator. 

That was the beginning of my emotional recuperation.

For over a year I clung to my nurse navigator and oncology therapist, who I could talk to about anything without any fear or guilt. I tapped into the power of “me too” when I talked with other patient/survivors.  It wasn’t always easy to be vulnerable, but finding someone to talk to brought me hope and our connection gave me joy.

Just the other day, I had the opportunity to express my gratitude for those who heard me, by being the one who listened. I volunteer with the Cancer Hope Network, which matches cancer patient/survivors and their family members with support volunteers with similar cancer experiences. I was matched with a woman facing a mastectomy and a diagnosis very close to mine.

During our 90-minute conversation, we talked about the surgery, but mostly about how cancer affects her sense of self and body image. We talked a lot about her husband and how hard it was to know how to discuss her cancer with her young daughter. (All issues I dealt with six years ago.)

At the end of our conversation, she told me she felt better.

So did I.

If you’re searching for someone to talk to, consider calling the Cancer Hope Network’s toll-free number. (1-800-552-4366) All calls are free and confidential.  

Have you found someone to talk to? Who do you reach out to? Let me know in the comments below. I answer every one.
 
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 15, 2015
Thank you Debbie for this article. You have, once again, captured my feelings with eloquent words. I sought out groups and people before my chemotherapy began. But looking back over the last two years (today marks two years since my lumpectomy), it seems I craved connection and community and understanding the most after chemotherapy. About the time that friends and family began to fade back. I didn't know and still struggle with the fatigue that lingers and affects my interest in things and sometimes leads me depressed. I hope to find someone to talk with about the after chemotherapy chapter. I will definitely look into this organization you recommend. Thank you again.
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Anonymous

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0 Replies
Posted on
February 15, 2015
Antoinette: I did too! I'm glad you're willing to call the Cancer Hope Network. It's a great organization. I hope they have someone to match you to who completely understands because he/she has been there. Good luck!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 15, 2015
Finding someone to talk to and really understand I can be so challenging. My daughter insist I try a local support . I did not think I needed or even wanted to talk to others. The group was a blessing. For the first time I could express my fear, angry or any other feelings I have. Just hearing someone say that is all part of having cancer. That was back in 2009, and have also been supported throught my second fight with cancer in 2010. I treasure this group of friends I have. To be able to offer support to others is so rewarding. I wish I could say my struggles are over it is not to be, but I have the support I need all around me.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 17, 2015
Sherry: I'm so glad you found a treasured group of fellow survivors to support you. Good luck with everything.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 18, 2015
I have stage 4 esophageal cancer. I have children but am a single mom. It's very lonely not having anyone that truly understands my situation. I've been told there is no cure and the treatment chemo I am having bad reactions to. I'm scared
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 18, 2015
Tullia: Please keep reaching out for someone to talk to. During my treatment, I was lucky to find a lot of people at my cancer center who understood. I also had a patient navigator who helped me find resources. You have every reason to be scared, but there is no reason that you should have to be in this alone. I wish you all the best.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 19, 2015
I was so very fortunate to reach out to a group which is now called Fight CRC. They had a buddy program. I got to meet another woman, who is still my friend and cancer mentor, Suzanne Lindley. She gave me HOPE. I needed to know that life would continue - with or without cancer. I have been without disease for 12 years. But I stay very connected to many non-profits that support survivors: beatlivertumors.org, Imermangels.org, chemoangels.org, Chris4life.org, and lend my experience to others.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 20, 2015
This article has such a large amount of truth in it. I initially avoided talking about the prostate cancer diagnosis. I was heavily into denial about how advanced and how aggressive it was. When I tried to talk with my wife about my feelings and about the psychological effects of the hormonal treatments, she said she loved me but she said she couldn't understand how I felt. She encouraged me to reach out to others. I found three wonderful solutions. One was the local Us TOO support group; they encourage new folk to talk about their journey and concerns. i was the only new guy and spoke and was listened to and questioned for 40 minutes by medical specialists and by men who had been where I was. When i got to my car, I just sat there and cried because I felt I had come home. The second was a professional colleague who I had worked with at conferences; she was dealing with breast cancer. We met for lunch and had a wonderful, open discussion. We both were on hormone therapy and one of the highlights was when we both had a hot flash at the same time! Finally, I learned that a former colleague was also undergoing treatment for advanced sarcoma. We met along with the husband of a mutual friend who had died from renal cell cancer. We had several lunches together and we could laugh and cry together. It was wonderful. For men, it's very difficult to open up in front of others, especially when we feel so vulnerable. It's even more difficult with hormone treatment because strong emotions pop up unexpectedly. Tears are not uncommon. I can only say "Go for it".
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
February 20, 2015
Oh Rich, you made me laugh - thanks! I always tried to hide my hot flashes and took HRT for 9 years before stopping, then was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. When I took an aromatase inhibitor (AI) I lost some weight, specifically butt fat. Now you might think that was a good thing, but my oncologist suggested an MRI if I was worried. Huh? I just waited and the weight came back when I stopped the AI, unfortunately. Other concerns I had were radiation burns that made wearing underwear difficult, now replaced by worries over long-term effects on my heart. Although my concerns may seem unimportant compared to those of people with a higher stage of cancer, I don't know where to turn. I don't want to join a general cancer support group. I do work in healthcare so I have access to plenty of resources, but I don't see some of these concerns addressed. Perhaps Debbie could make some suggestions.
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