A flower begins to bloom amid a dead garden

My Life After Cancer

Hi Everyone! I want to quickly reintroduce myself because it’s been quite a while since my last post. However, some of you may be vaguely familiar with my story because my mom often writes about it from a caregiver’s perspective. My name is Crystal and I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma back in 2017.

I’m so fortunate to say that I’m now in remission and have been for a few years! Cancer is still something that haunts me though, even with it being so far in my past. Life after cancer certainly comes with its own unique challenges and unfortunately, these challenges aren’t things that are talked about very often. Mental health, dating after cancer, working during or after cancer, trying to maintain friendships, regaining physical strength... the list really goes on and on!

"Cancer drastically changed my life"

Cancer drastically changed my life, as I’m sure most people can relate to. I would like to think all of the changes I went through were for the better, although they didn’t always feel like it at the time.

The biggest life change I underwent was with my career. I left a job that I didn’t believe I was getting treated fairly at and the hours were very unhealthy for me both physically and mentally. This job was my identity and leaving it felt like I was losing a part of myself along with something that I had once worked so hard for.

I also had to learn how to be happy by myself. I went through cancer treatment as a single woman because the person I had been dating prior to my diagnosis actually broke up with me once I was diagnosed. That left me feeling really isolated and I often wondered if everyone would feel the same about dating someone with a cancer history.

Lastly, cancer caused a lot of my friends, or at least the people who I once considered to be close friends, to distance themselves from me. Looking back on it, I’d like to think that these people just didn’t know how to act around me and couldn’t find the right words to say. Regardless, it was hurtful at the time, and felt like people didn’t want to be friends with someone who “came with a lot of baggage” or was a “high maintenance friend.”

I have a feeling that most of you can relate to many of those things, but I really want to say that it gets better, I promise.

It gets better

You know that toxic job that I mentioned where I was working crazy hours and getting paid very poorly only to be treated unfairly by management? I quit and ended up finding a job with wonderful coworkers, a normal and much healthier schedule, and a pay increase! It was so scary to leave and I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to do so if it wasn’t for cancer.

What about the guy that broke up with me after my diagnosis? He actually reached out to me a few times since (guilt, maybe?) but I since blocked his number and all his social media accounts. Oh, and I’m newly engaged to an amazing guy who thinks my cancer history is admirable and makes me strong!

Lastly, the friends that I lost along the way were never really great friends. If anything, cancer truly showed me who my true friends are that will be there for me through the toughest times and I’m beyond grateful for that.

It has been three years since I finished chemo and it took the majority of that time to learn how to cope with the trauma I faced during treatment. It was the toughest thing I’ve had to do, but it really does get better.

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