A frightened woman looking over her shoulder at a shadowy version of herself

Trying to Step Away from Cancer

Last updated: June 2022

Finding out that you are cured of cancer should be a time to celebrate. When my daughter, Crystal found out she was cured of her blood cancer we all felt blessed.

She thought everything would be ok, and for a while it was. Until It wasn’t.

Cured, but it's not over

She seemed alright until she left to get back to her life. That’s when she started suffering from PTSD, fear of it coming back, side effects from treatments and chemo, loneliness, and isolation - and that just names a few of the emotions and physical issues she was facing.

This is not how she thought being cured would go. Instead of being happy and moving on with her life, she was a bit of a mess for a while.

I have cancer too. It’s not a blood cancer, it’s thyroid cancer, but like a lot of other people, I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. That is unless I get lucky and a cure is found.

Should be a cause for relief

So to me, being cured of cancer seems like such an amazing thing and one I wish for every day. When Crystal was cured, I was happy, relieved, and so glad she could get back to her life.

That wasn’t at all how it went. There were a lot of residual issues that come with being ‘cured’. Saying that, I have to wonder if you can ever really get past having cancer?

Nightmares, reliving treatment

When Crystal got back to her life and job she started having bad dreams. She would relive taking chemo, the effects after, and even the long car rides home.

She also found herself suffering from some of those memories during the day when she was faced with a certain food or smell. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but it was probably at least a year.

Learning you have cancer, then going through all the things that go along with it is traumatizing and doesn’t just end. Those feelings follow you, at least for a while.

For Crystal, at first, she was emotionally drained. She had been through a lot and had to go back to a demanding job. The hours were crazy and she was sleep deprived. She probably needed a little more time off, but she also needed the job, so back she went.

Returning to "normal life" draining and depressing

Between all the emotions of having cancer, going back to a place where she didn’t have friends or family, and being sleep deprived, she found herself being depressed.

Another thing that was an issue was the neuropathy she was still suffering with. It was mostly in her legs and she fell a few times. This made it hard for her to do some of the things she enjoyed, like running.

Residual effects and worries of relapse

Then she had the worry of it coming back. This lasted for a while. I think that may be better now, but I don’t know if that feeling ever fully goes away. I know for myself, that any ache or pain I get makes me wonder if the cancer is spreading. I think it’s probably similar for people who had cancer.

So can you ever step away from cancer? I don’t know. I think the best anyone of us can do is to live our best life in spite of cancer.

Wishing you health and happiness.

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