We all have an understanding of our own mortality at least once in our lives. Many times it happens after the death of a parent or loved one. All of a sudden, we recognize that there are no givens in life except that we all die, and sometimes it comes sooner than expected.
I was diagnosed with a cervical tumor and had chemo and 25 radiation treatments. The side effects take a while to start manifesting and continue for a couple of months after the treatments are finished. I have had my final PET scan and am cancer free. Thank you Jesus.
But, from time to time, I still have side effects or familiar symptoms I have coped with for the past 6 months. During the treatments, I also began having emotional mood swings that still crop up from time to time. Just the word CANCER affects everyone even without them realizing it.
My journey began with a quick diagnoses and treatments began in a whirlwind that ended months later. I barely had time to ingest the information and learn to cope before the treatments were done and I was waiting for final results 3 months later.
I began noticing more and more people coping with cancer in themselves or in their family. More and more people began asking for prayers for loved ones with cancer. And then, a friend and coworker of almost 30 years lost her husband of 40+ years to pancreatic cancer. That hit too close to home.
I felt I didn’t deserve to feel what I was feeling. There were many people with cancers worse than mine, quicker growing cancers, with higher mortality rates, and more toxic treatments than what I received. I felt I couldn’t feel the pain or the nausea or even the discomfort without feeling guilty. I felt I didn’t deserve to feel the depression. There were so many people coping with much worse. I felt a little distanced from myself and the fact that I had cancer and that people do actually die from it.
It took the PET scan and reports from both my gynecological oncologist and my radiation doctor for me to believe and accept the fact I was cancer free and could take a deep breath and go on. But now, every time I get an unusual feeling, like light-headedness, or a pain inside, or a touch of bladder/pelvic/colon upset, my mind immediately wonders if something is wrong. Is this random thing, or a residual symptom of my treatments? Is the cancer growing again? Or is this just a minor irritation?
I have lived a blessed life. I have been healthy and rarely experienced illness and so the whirlwind journey of cancer and the treatments left me in a disorienting daze. I feel the emotional repercussions are just now trying to catch up to me. They may linger for a long time. It will be something new to learn to live with. In the long run, a small price to pay.