I frequently relive the day I was diagnosed with cancer and realized that I may need to limit my exposure to other people’s cancer battles.
Lately I have been staying up late at night getting sucked down the cancer wormhole. It’s something that happened a lot when I was in treatment, but not so much in the months after. I guess I was just focused on recovery and healing — which, for me, came with more ease because recurrence for my type of cancer is rare.
Lately, however, I’ve noticed I’ve been worried that one day, I’ll be diagnosed with a different type of cancer. Or even worse, my kids will get it. I was kind of riding off the “it already happened, so my chances are low” wave, but honestly, I just don’t think that's the case. Cancer is so widespread these days, and stories of people being diagnosed more than once are not that uncommon, especially with the amount of cancer connections I have made online.
My husband always likes to point out that because of social media, we hear about so much more. That’s true, but some days it's still hard for me. People reach out to me for support and I’m always so glad they do, but every once in a while, I find myself feeling very anxious. I worry that cancer will come back and ruin my happiness.
I sometimes feel like, it's too good to be true that I could beat cancer, crawl my way out of the darkness and live happily ever after. Sometimes late at night, when everyone is sleeping and I’m completely alone, I start to wonder when something bad will happen again. When something hurts, or my recent tingling of the left arm starts up, my mind instantly goes to cancer.
What if it’s a tumor on my spine? What if I find a lump in my breast? What if my son’s headaches turns out to be cancer? What if one of my dogs gets cancer? It is always in the back of my mind.
Having this level of anxiety isn’t anything unusual for me, I used to worry like this before cancer, but somehow it’s different now. Perhaps it's because I have actually been there, or maybe I have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I relive the horrible day I got diagnosed, ALL the time.
A friend of mine who also survived choriocarcinoma has told me before that she has to “protect her peace” by eliminating exposure to daily triggers, like other people’s cancer battles. I really thought about that and realized maybe I need to do the same. When I think that way it makes me feel guilty, because it feels selfish, but how much can one person take? I just want to find some peace where cancer isn’t constantly stealing from me. I want to be like people I see around me, just living in ignorant bliss making daily choices without constantly worrying that it might tip the scale in cancer’s favor.
It reminds me of that movie “Final Destination” where cheating death is impossible. That’s what living life after cancer feels like: a constant cat and mouse game where you are trying to outsmart death.
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