Everything about cancer sucks, we all know that. I wasn’t unusually surprised by how hard cancer treatment was, but I was shocked at how hard life after cancer is.
Expectations vs. reality
I had such high expectations for life after cancer. I remember being stuck in bed after a chemotherapy treatment, daydreaming about all of the great things I would do when I was finally cancer free. My post-cancer life was going to be perfect and nothing would ever bother me again. I mean come on, I had cancer! Nothing would ever be as bad as that.
When I finally returned to “normal” life, whatever that means, my plans didn’t exactly go the way I imagined. I fell back into my routine of living to work instead of working to live. My life, once again, revolved around my job and trying to make everyone else happy instead of myself. I kept telling myself I was just making up for lost time while I was fighting cancer, but really all I was doing was burying myself in work to get my mind off of what I had been through.
I found myself forcing a smile around other people and then going home and crying myself to sleep. I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about what I was going through because I didn’t even understand it myself.
The pressure to appreciate life
There is a lot of pressure on cancer survivors to have a newfound appreciation for life. I mean, shouldn’t we be thrilled to be alive? A cancer survivor is someone who stared death in the face and lived to tell about it. We have every reason to be happy, right?
Except maybe for the fact that we stared death in the face. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true! And it can be pretty traumatic. Of course life isn’t going to be perfect after something like that!
While I was going through treatment, I powered through each day with my head down and somehow just got through it. I never once took the time to process what I was going through. I just did what I had to do to survive.
Coping with the aftermath of cancer
Now that I’m done, I’m realizing that there are so many unresolved issues that cancer left me with. To put it lightly, life after cancer has been one long, crazy emotional rollercoaster. It took me a while to admit this, but when I finally did, I realized I wasn’t the only cancer survivor who felt this way. With that said, I want to let anyone else out there who is struggling with life after cancer know that you aren’t alone. I’ve started learning about the many ways to cope with these feelings including things like counseling, support groups, and connecting with other survivors who are in a similar situation and I hope that if you’re going through a rough time, you will seek help too.
I want to end this by saying that whether you’re going through cancer treatment now or are on the other side of it, make sure you take some time for yourself. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, but it’s so important to take the time to cope with the aftermath of cancer.
Do you worry about relapse?