Physical and mental changes from your cancer treatment will be a natural occurrence, so don't take it personally.
If you’re newly diagnosed and about to undergo treatment, there’s a process you’ll need to go through.
You’ll learn to manage physical discomfort, and, fortunately, there are drugs for that. You’ll also struggle to manage fear and uncertainty because your life has transformed into a nightmare with no clear answer in sight. Treatment is almost like an obstacle course full of one “I never thought I could handle that” moment after the next.
Then there’s another part: managing your ego.
Finding yourself suddenly bald, eyebrows and all, with a face puffed out and distorted from steroids is a traumatic sight. It can feel deeply unsettling and beyond humiliating…if you let it.
There were mornings I’d stumble into the bathroom and recoil at what looked back at me in the mirror. Is that how the world sees me!? I’d forgotten that I looked like that. Not to mention, over the course of a year, my weight had skyrocketed as I shoveled in calories trying to keep up my strength. I looked like an entirely different person.
I also became completely reliant on others, routinely asking friends to take off work just to watch me around my apartment in case I caught a fever while neutropenic and needed to be rushed to the hospital. After my femur surgery, nurses had to support me onto a commode while I tried going to the bathroom and then I needed them to come back for cleanup. For like 2 weeks. I’ll spare you the details, mainly because I think I blocked them out of mind— but it wasn’t pretty.
One of the ways I kept my sanity was to generalize each experience. I started a blog and as I shared updates with friends and family, I remember feeling like an explorer reporting back about his latest voyages into a new world. Here’s what happens at this point… Around this time, you’ll start noticing….
It wasn’t Steve who should feel embarrassed, that was just the natural response for anyone put in the same type of situation. Reframing helped take away the sting. Especially because it’s not like anyone asks for cancer. We’re all just doing what we gotta do to survive.