A patient and her husband looking angry at a doctor

Does Your Blood Cancer Diagnosis Make You Angry?

The long and winding six-year road living with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has had its share of twists and turns. Good thing I buckled up.

My hematologist/oncologist, who is a CML specialist, said something to me years ago that stuck with me ever since.

Let me set the scene.

Angry at the world?

The doctor is usually very prompt and giving of his time. On one occasion though, I found myself sitting in one of the little hospital rooms waiting for my checkup. My temperature, blood pressure, and other vital signs were taken, and then I sat. And sat and sat... waiting.

An hour passed. I’m sure there was a lot of sighing going on. I looked at the painting on the wall, the ceiling tiles, my sneakers, etc. Ho-hum. And then I started looking at the hardwood floor because there was nothing else to do. I was apparently staring at it and all its features when the doctor strode in, apparently harried and late.

“Why are you looking at the floor like that?” he asked me, first thing. I interpreted his tone as having an edge to it. I shrugged and said I didn’t know. “Could it be because you are angry at the world, Susan?” was his reply.

Angry at the world.

I felt triggered. For one thing, I wasn’t staring at the floor for any deep-seeded reason. I was bored. “Why are you saying that?” I retorted and now, I admit, I felt a little heated. “You haven’t even begun to see me angry.” It was true. At that point, I’d displayed a few emotions in his office but sincerely felt like I’d always kept it together. The rest of the exam went ahead and the remark was forgotten. Or, was it? It was probably four years ago and I’m writing about it now so I guess not.

Does my blood cancer make me angry?

When I got home, I thought about it some more... firm in my belief that staring at a hardwood floor does not equal rage. But does my blood cancer diagnosis make me angry? You bet it does. But who am I angry at? I think it makes me angry at myself more than anyone else. Why? It all comes down to frustration. I want to be the way I was before. I want to feel and act like the person I was before leukemia intruded in my life.

I want to be able to do all the things that came more easily once upon a time. Unfortunately, I can’t. And, yes, that does tick me off. Everything is more difficult now. From walking to thinking and trying to fight through brain fog, fatigue, and daily aches and pains. Know what else makes me mad? The lack of understanding about leukemia and all its intricacies. It’s amazing how some people really don’t get it and still thrust their opinions in my face. But I can’t change reality so I have to go along for the ride. I don’t like the term, “new normal,” but it does kind of fit. As years go by, it’s no longer new, it’s just life.

What about you? Do you feel angry? Is it at the world or someone or something else?

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