In each issue of CURExtra (the online newsletter of CURE), we ask readers their thoughts and advice, to share their stories, and answer a question about their cancer journey.
This past issue of CURExtra, we asked: Patients and their families often struggle to get back to their lives after a cancer diagnosis. Do you feel your family ever returned to "normal?" If not, how has your normal changed? Do you have advice for others patients going through treatment?
We got a lot of thoughtful responses, including the ones below:
FROM KATHRYN K: Shortly after my treatment for breast cancer ended, my aunt died of colon cancer and several years later my older brother lost his painful battle with pancreatic cancer. It has been three years now since my brother died, and I feel that as a family we all feel better about being normal again and curiously more comfortable with death and dying. Our normal now is spending as much time together as possible whereas before we were all busy living our own hectic lives, seeing each other only occasionally. I feel that our family is better able to focus on the "quality of life" we have together while we are still treading in this dimension, and unfortunately, cancer was the catalyst for that train of thought.
FROM ESTHER G: After treatment, my children still have to deal with a mom who is tired most of the time and unable to do many activities that she used to do. We skipped camping this summer because I could manage work and household, nothing more. We also deal with scares on a regular basis. What if this symptom means the cancer is back? It changes communication among us because I don't want to see their reaction to my worries. The maintenance treatments and the constant medical appointments and tests to make sure everything is OK are not only time consuming and emotionally draining, but costly. Last year, a non-treatment year, medical costs were over $82,000. I am concerned that if I get laid off, I will lose my insurance. It also means I am not likely to retire any time soon, though I could. No, we are not "normal."
You can read more reader submissions in Readers Write.It also brought up a lot of other good questions, such as how do you even try to get your "normal" back when you've been diagnosed with metastatic disease or a chronic cancer like CML, and that there are different degrees of "normal," both good and bad. We'd like to continue this discussion. So, leave a comment about your experience. Did your family ever return to normal after a cancer diagnosis? To what degree? And did anything help? I'm sure other newly diagnosed patients, and even some long-term survivors, would appreciate your insight. And if you haven't already, sign up for the next issue of CURExtra and submit your answer to the next question. You may find your submission in the next issue!