Throw me a life preserver…

I normally don’t post this close together, but I feel like I need to get the message out about this book. It’s all about dealing with “the after.” The part that isn’t talked about much, that’s swept under the rug… the guilt, what ifs & anxiety. The book, “The Cancer Survivor’s Companion,” should be given out when you’re done with treatment. Ring the bell, get the book. There is a large gap in what happens after the treatment is over, and what you might think happens. At least for me there was.

The first two pages in the book almost had me in tears. Oh my goodness, they wrote a book for me! (I know it’s not only for me, but what a comforting feeling to feel like you’re not alone!) It’s actually in the introduction. They talk about the storm of cancer. You’re sailing along in your normal life & then cancer hits. It throws you off course and you think you might sink. But your cancer team has a lifeboat & steers you in the right direction. When you are “done,” they pull you towards shore. Everyone is cheering for you, but your boat stops. You’re not at shore yet and you don’t know what to do. You’re changed & might feel stuck.

Yes! There was such a battle to fight the enemy of cancer, now that’s done and things should be great. You should feel so happy, and yet, when you don’t, there is a ton of guilt. When you’re not living life to the fullest, you feel like you’re wasting your opportunity at a second chance. You might not have given yourself enough time to heal. You might approach all of these “anniversaries” with fear & anxiety but you feel guilty talking about it because you’re supposed to be fine. You’re done, right? What’s the problem?

There is a psychologist at Roger Maris Cancer Center who deals with this stuff all the time. She recommended the book. I need to give her a hug the next time I see her. This is the missing piece. The part that isn’t talked about. Oh, they ask you if you want to talk to someone but people like me will say, “nope, I’m good.” We try to handle all of these fears and changes and emotions ourselves, when there is a team that can still help us. They can help us get our boat to shore. It’s NOT because you’re weak or can’t handle this. You’re normal to go through this stage. Yet it’s not talked about much. (Or if it was, I wasn’t ready to listen.)

I did see the cancer psych lady. I happened to only be able to get in on the Monday after I had gotten my MRI results, before my biopsy. (Divine intervention) When I went to see the psychologist, one thing that I told her, is that there is a gap in preparing people for “the after.” There should be a letter sent out 2 weeks before the patient’s anniversary. It should state something like, “you are having an anniversary soon & here are some things you might be feeling…” (You might have anxiety, become quiet, have “what if” thoughts etc.) It should come in a folder with a big elephant on it since this is the elephant in the room that isn’t talked about.

My faith helped get me through my cancer storm, and it will get me through my “after.” I need to have some patience with myself. One of my favorite sayings is about drowning in life, but your lifeguard walks on water. He knows what you need. He will try to lead you to it. Be open. Be ok with sharing or getting help or talking to someone. Don’t ever feel like you’re not enough because you’re doing the best you can! Peace be with you on your journey of enough.


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