Monday, May 29, 2017

Is Moving On After Cancer A Myth?

I am approaching my ten year anniversary of the ten year mark after my breast cancer diagnosis. Am I supposed to celebrate? I think so but I am not sure how much of a celebration it is. It doesn't mean I can say it is gone for good. It just means that in the ten years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I am still here.

Now I do know that is a good thing. But am I supposed to celebrate? But I don't feel like celebrating. I am not sure that I should celebrate. I certainly won't be having a party.

The last ten years have been a growing time for me emotionally (and for my waistline). I have had many new experiences that I would never have had without breast cancer. Some I can appreciate - like learning to fly fish or making lots of new friends - but some not so much - my first CT scan, chemotherapy....

I have met many wonderful people during these past ten years. However, I have lost many of these new friends as well to cancer. I have also held hands, physically and emotionally, with many people who I never would have met, to help them and to help me coping with cancer. Some of that is good, but some of that - I still miss many friends.

My breast cancer diagnosis was not my first dealings with cancer. I had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer twenty five years and some months earlier.

It took me a long time to get my life back together after that diagnosis but I was never the same. Actually I don't really know. I was diagnosed at the age of 19 while in college so was never really an adult on my own without cancer. I don't know if I would be different if I had never had cancer because I never had the opportunity. It took me so long to deal with that cancer diagnosis, I don't think I 'grew' that much.

Since I can't tell if I had grown emotionally after that cancer diagnosis because I have no comparison. And am I any less of a person than I would have been? How much did cancer change me? I have no idea. Again, I have no comparison on that how can I tell how much my cancer diagnosis changed me and my life again?

I go back to my question - is moving on after cancer a myth? I don't know. I don't know how much I have moved on  because I can't tell how much I changed in the beginning.

All I do know is that once someone says 'you have cancer' you are changed. Your focus on life is very different. You question what is normal to every one else - life insurance in case anything happens to your children (if you can still have children), or changing jobs and getting new health insurance (with a pre-existing condition). Or planning for the future? Why should I save for retirement if it looks like I probably won't be here for it?

Personally I believe that anyone who says you can move on after cancer, has never had cancer. They are the same people who came up with the soldier/battle/warrior/s-word stuff. But I don't have the comparison so I can never be sure.

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