Is Your Life Being Run by Cancer or Are You Running Your Life?

A cancer survivor explains how she prevents an overwhelming and exhausting amount of doctor appointments from spoiling her appreciation for life.

The short answer to this question (in my mind) is “it depends.” I think most of us are determined when we’re diagnosed with cancer and after undergoing our various treatments not to allow cancer to run our lives. We know we are much more than a cancer patient. We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, siblings, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, friends and on and on. Many of us work full- or part-time, have hobbies and other interests and do not want to only concentrate on this insidious disease.

But, if I am to be honest, I am struggling with this concept at times. During the quarantine that swept the world, all of us were isolated at home to some degree, unless we were essential workers. Now that the blessed vaccinations have arrived, we are slowly opening up again.

However, what I did not think about was that all those doctor appointments I postponed, are now happening all at once. My PCP, dentist, ophthalmologist, gastrointestinal specialist, audiologist and several others want to see me again.I am already going two days a week to a lab and the cancer center for blood work and shots which cuts into my entire day.

For several weeks I have had medical appointments at least four days a week. I have not had one week in two years without a medical appointment.

There are times I get overwhelmed and think that cancer and the results have taken over my life. When I mention this to others their response is, “Well it is keeping you alive.”Then I feel like an ungrateful wretch. Yes, I do know and appreciate that, but I am still extremely tired of medical facilities.

Still, others remind me that some of this is old age. I do remember my parents complaining that all they did as they aged was go to doctor appointments and funerals.I used to chuckle, but I don’t do that anymore!

READ MORE: Slowing Down is OK

Frankly, sometimes I feel like I am in quicksand with the medical appointments being all I have the energy to do. My energy level is so low anyway. I think most of us feel this way periodically, especially those of us who are diagnosed with a treatable, but not curable, kind of cancer. Yes, we cry out for a break, a stop or even a slowdown. But with a chronic condition, this does not happen. So what do we do?
I think it is fine to have my “pity party” sometimes, and we all deserve to do this. One of my friends has a nasty cancer and has been undergoing treatments for many years while working full time. She is so positive and says she looks at this as another job. That is a great way to look at it.

I try to remind myself I am more than a cancer “victim.”I reach out to my friends, my family, my hobbies and my books. I am no longer restricted by the pandemic. If all I can do with my fatigue is go to Starbucks and have a cup of coffee that is alright too!

It is a balance. I can say cancer has taken over my life in many ways. But I can also say I fight back by writing, watching sports, keeping up my social life and pursuing other interests. Some days it is fine to just go to bed and sleep and let my body recover!

I know deep down I am controlling my cancer to the best of my ability.I also know if I don’t, I will not live to enjoy any more of precious life. There is so much to do and to love. So, I take a deep breath and go on to appreciate another day!

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