Letting Go of Fear
Letting go of fear is essential to well-being. After a cancer diagnosis, it can feel like it is always looming around every corner. It's hard not to become entrenched in fear. I was most afraid when I didn't know what I had, but I knew it was something. I feared it was cancer. I prayed over and over that it would be curable. I held my fear tight so that my boys wouldn't see. Even in remission, there is no complacency.
Coming to terms with my Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis
There were a few weeks that I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know I had cancer. I started frantically cleaning out closets, getting my house in order, and vowing to read the books on my nightstand. I didn't want to leave anything unfinished, just in case, this was the end.
I had never had surgery before my biopsy. I had never been put to sleep. Even when I had my children, I was fully aware. I was nervous about the process of being put to sleep and having someone cut into me. I don't like not being in control. I wouldn't describe myself as a control freak or a type-A personality, but I didn't like the idea of not having control over my body.
I have always been hesitant to take medicine. I am a big believer in natural remedies, and I try not to take medicine unless it is utterly necessary. I would endure pain or illness stubbornly. When I got my diagnosis, there were no supplements to help; in fact, I was advised to stop taking all vitamins and greens. When a patient begins chemotherapy, the body is broken down to the studs to let the toxic medicine kill the cancer cells. In the process, it kills your healthy cells too. Any immune-supportive supplements can disrupt the ability of the chemo to be successful.
Surrendering myself to treatment
If I wanted to get well, I could not just endure the pain or work through it. The cancer was spreading through my lymph nodes. It was already in four of them and on the move. If we didn't kill cancer, it would find its way into other parts of my body and could eventually prove fatal. Hodgkin lymphoma is considered a curative disease and finding it when we did was deemed to be favorable.
I had to take a lot of medicine. I took pills to prevent viral flairs from sleeping viruses in my body that could be awakened by chemo, pills that helped with nausea, and pills to help with the joint pain. My skin was sensitive to the medication and I had a rash for months. My hair fell out mostly after I completed treatment, which was a lingering side effect. I still have some neuropathy in my hands, but it is occasional, instead of every day now. I allowed the nurses to inject me with toxic bags of chemotherapy drugs that made me feel surreal. I no longer had control of my body. It was in the hands of the nurses and doctors. I surrendered myself over to them.
A new fear of recurrence emerges
It has been a little over a year since I learned of my diagnosis. I keep thinking back to that time of uncertainty and fear. When I finally knew what it was, I wanted to know how to get it out of me. The tumors are treated but not removed. The cancerous cells are killed within the nodes instead.
After months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, there was no evidence of the disease. I was well, but I didn't feel it. The toxicity had ravaged me. Over the last several months, I have slowly been rebuilding my immune system. I am thankful for the advances in medicine that make wellness possible. I have let go of my fear of losing control. Instead, I now live in fear of cancer coming back or manifesting itself in a new way. I am learning to let go of that fear and live the life I have, the best I can.
What type of blood cancer are you or your loved one diagnosed with?