'But you're OK now'

I've had colon cancer. Lots of test resulted in a diagnosis in Feb, followed by a Right hemicholectomy in March. Fortunately for me, the 37 lymph nodes and associated blood vessels and veins were all clear and I'm now free from Cancer. I have 5 years of surveillance ahead and always the possibility of it returning.

The last 6 months have taken its toll and although I'm now relatively well, I feel as if I'm floundering. People who showed concern are now saying things like -

'but you're fine. Get on with life'

'stop dwelling on it'

'you're looking so well, aren't you lucky'

'This must be such a relief for you '


Whilst I am very lucky, I feel a bit like a ticking time bomb and just waiting for the next scan, hoping everything is still OK.

Is it wrong to feel as if I'm in mourning?

Best Answer

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 644 ✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    @SallyB

    Hello Sally,

    Lovely to 'meet' you, welcome to the community.

    Have you just recently finished treatment? You mean March just gone?

    It is wonderful that you have come through this successfully, really brilliant. It is always so great to hear good news when cancer loses.

    Unfortunately, for many people when they see that we have recovered from surgery, or completed treatment, or given the all clear, they very quickly assume we will return to our pre-cancer state and carry on as normal!!

    Your sense of being in mourning is not unusual and you are not alone in feeling like this.

    When we are diagnosed with cancer, it is such a shock to our whole system, physically and emotionally. But often we don't get a chance to process any of it as we are caught up in the whirlwind of appointments, tests, scans etc, and everything else we have to do to be free of cancer. So now you have finished treatment, you are on the road to recovery, but it is just the start.

    It is hard when we no longer have to be somewhere, or do something specific, and when dr's are not directing our every move! Suddenly it's just us, and it feels like 'Well, what now?' I burst into tears when I came to the end of treatment, and I definitely felt a sense of bereavement after chemo. Dr's and nurses and indeed other patients we come into contact regularly with during the course of our treatment, become so involved in our lives, we rely on them too, that when that connection ceases, you feel adrift.

    Yes waiting for check up scans and other tests, is daunting, We are faced with the memory of what has gone before but also have to steel ourselves for a 'what if', which hopefully doesn't materialise.

    It can take a long time to recover fully from the effects of cancer. If you had chemo or radiotherapy too, they also have long-lasting side-effects.

    You will find others here who feel the same as you do, even if the cancer is different, there are so many similarities in the effect it has had on our lives.

    I hope you will find support and friendship here, everyone is very friendly.

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

Answers

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 439 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 15

    @SallyB

    Hi Sally

    So pleased you found us and what good news to hear that you are clear of cancer. That is the sort of story we love to hear in our community.

    Lou is so right, the way you are feeling is very common  you know. Cancer is different from any other illness. It is almost certainly the disease which people fear more than any and once you have had it you will always wonder if it will come back again. It is life changing and I suspect that only people who have had it really understand the emotional upheaval it causes. That is why this community is so valuable, we do ‘get it’ because we have all been there in one way or another.

    I had five weeks of radiotherapy during which I was looked after and fussed over. I coped pretty well at the time and it was not until it was over that I started to get really anxious and unsettled. I felt abandoned and alone and I don't think that is particularly unusual.

    Unfortunately, as with you, friends and family unwittingly said all the wrong things and I have heard all of the comments you have mentioned, and worse. I fell into depression thinking I was weak and ungrateful. To her great credit, my wife realised that something was really wrong and persuaded me to seek help.

    Do you have any support groups in your area? MacMillan Cancer Support have been brilliant for me. They provided me with a counsellor free of charge. If you think that is more than you need, you can still pop in and have a cuppa and a chat. Hospice is another great source of info and support. I am also taking sertraline as prescribed by my doctor. It is not a 'happy pill' or quick fix - its purpose is to replace a lack of seratonin in the the brain and it was three or four weeks before I started to feel any benefit but I believe it has helped me.

    I am on hormone treatment which is preventing my cancer from spreading. I have regular infusions followed by blood tests. I can't deny that it is always an anxious time waiting for the results, but I have got used to it and Mary and I always have some sort of celebration when the results come back clear. I am now enjoying life again and you will too.

    Take your time Sally, you will get used to the new you, and the scans, and things will get better.

    I hope that you will keep in touch. There are some amazing, friendly and caring people in this community which is now such an important part of my life. Have a look at the 'Off Topic section too. We sometimes like to get away from the cancer and have a bit of fun.

    Rob x

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