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Living With Cancer: How Can I Slow Down?

BY Sue McLaughlin
PUBLISHED August 05, 2016
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
A woman recently wrote about how cancer had changed her life ... for the better. I wish I could say the same. Yes, cancer changed my life, and I would prefer my old life! I was diagnosed 11 years ago with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I've had two recurrences since then, and I'm always in panic mode. I want to hurry and finish things. I've rearranged closets numerous times, given away an enormous amount of clothing and other things, and tried desperately to organize my coin collection and record what I have. I've collected antiques over the years and I've tried desperately to figure out how to sell them without getting ripped off. My fear is that my daughter will sell something in a yard sale for 50 cents that's actually worth $500.

But, no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get anything done, I'm all over the place mentally -- oh look, a squirrel! Why? Many reasons. There's just too much I want to accomplish, and it seems there's never enough time. Chemo brain hit me hard, adding to my inability to stay focused. And the big reason is being told "watch and wait." You see, my cancer was diagnosed as indolent, meaning it is slow-growing. Had it been aggressive, I wouldn't be in this constant state of panic and anxiety.

I’ve always been known for “watching for the clouds,” as my husband described me. I've always defended that by trying to explain that if I think about all the "clouds" I'll be better prepared for when they come. There won't be any surprises because I would already have figured out how to deal with whatever it is that will come my way. Ha!

Surprise, surprise, I hadn't been prepared for this latest cloud. This has not made my life better, no way, no how. I'm tired of not getting things done. I'm tired of worrying about when it will come back. I'm tired of being tired, forgetful and always searching for words, and even how to spell simple words. I'm tired of pushing people away, but I'm also tired of feeling like I deserve more attention and then being disappointed when I don't get asked, "So how did your blood work and oncologist visit go?" (something that happens EVERY four months). How can you possibly forget that I have to have this done every four months? Have you any idea how anxious this makes me, and how I hurt because you don't acknowledge it? Do you even care?

So, as I said, I wish I could say cancer has changed my life for the better, but damn, it sure as hell hasn't. I'm disappointed that I'm no longer who I used to be, and I can't seem to be able to get "me" back!
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