Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is this really it?

Settling into cancer survivorship is a piece of cake, right? Not so much. I have had some guilt, anger, and the feeling that I will never be the same again. Bear with me...I've got to get this out of my system.

Guilt: I didn't have the kind of cancer (thyroid) that typically kills people although mine was a fairly complicated case (stage 3 with a recurrence). Plenty of great people have cancer with horrible prognoses and don't live very long. This was not me...I'm still here, thank goodness. It's the old "why me?" situation. On a lighter note, sometimes I am guilty that I really just want to sleep and do nothing most of the time if I had my choice...when not watching my kids sports, that is.

Anger: Things have dramatically changed in my life since having thyroid cancer. It's more than a surgery, a treatment, a scar. It has changed the way I live my life and the way that it just "is." OK, and the scar is really annoying too and the looks I get from people checking it out.

Never be the same: This is somewhat tied to the anger. It's not about a scar or the time lost. I have changed. I look older and feel older...maybe that was coming anyway, but I didn't see it coming at all pre-cancer diagnosis. My need for rest and sleep is ridiculous. Having my thyroid removed was more than cancer: the thyroid regulates your metabolism (yes, weight gain) and fatigue. I am so affected by this even though I take my daily medication religiously. I'm even trying different combinations of vitamins.

I'm still working through this new normal. I can read and take in all that I want about survivorship and cancer, but no one can live my situation but me.

I have so many people, situations, things to be thankful for....I know. Feel free to lecture me about this now, completely understandable. Sometimes it's just hard to get away from how thyroid cancer has affected me. This is just the real stuff of cancer survivorship.


  1. No lectures from this survivor. In fact, the transition to the "new normal" is one of the most difficult phases of survivorship.

    Cancer changes you, mentally, physically and spiritually. The good news is that the more you discuss these things with other survivors the more you'll find others in the same boat.

    Keep up the great work,

  2. I get it! From the parent of a survivor side at least. Survivor's guilt is very real. Why did we get lucky and others didn't? And then there are the daily reminders. Ian's scars, his mild learning issues and muscle weakness and other, mild, developmental delays. I thank God every day that I have him! Even the days where we go 'round and 'round and 'round - like today.

  3. My survivorship isn't cancer, but three years of serious heart problems where I nearly surrendered. All I can tell you is it took six years to mentally move on, but I did and so will you. The new normal is not the same, but it can be great if you let it. The "why" part of surviving is never obvious - just let yourself enjoy it.

  4. No lectures...your experience is just that, your experience. The cancer experience changes people. I can hear myself telling families that over and over but did I really understand it, probably not. I wish I had some magic to share but honestly, it is your journey, and you will navigate it, share it helping others along the way and be the best you can every day.

  5. I think what you're feeling is normal. And much of it sounds familiar to me. I still deal with some of those same emotions every time I look at Seth, and he's 5 years removed from his stroke. But, he has physical reminders that he'll carry with him for the rest of his life, and I don't know how he feels about that, but I hate that for him. And in the next breath, I will remind myself that it could've been so, so much worse and we in fact are quite fortunate, all things considered. Combine that roller coaster with the occasional flash of PTSD (like, every time he gets a headache) and - well, I understand. I do.

  6. Thanks to all who commented on this post. You help me to realize that this is normal, it is my normal, and it is OK. Sometimes I think we get in our head about the way things should be...like a book or movie with a nice, happy ending. It doesn't end that way in life too often, but it doesn't mean it can't be OK, liveable, a new normal.

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