L.I.F.E After Cancer
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
When you are diagnosed with cancer it is like you are a sinking ship. Everyone comes out to help you......
The surgeon The oncologist The hospital Your friends Your family
They come to your rescue, fix the holes and tow your boat to safety. The only problem is that they don’t tow you to the shore. They only towed you to the harbour entrance and then say ‘off you go, you will be fine from here’…….
Though you are not.
You are still adrift and everyone has gone and left you alone to find your way back.
You feel broken, exhausted, misunderstood.
Life as you knew it is no longer the same.
Your emotions are all over the place and things that used to be simple tasks, are now triggers that your brain subconsciously has stored in its memory bank that takes you completely by surprise when you least expect it.
You are looking for that lighthouse to guide you back to shore.
It is also the same for the support people, carers, and family.
You have been supporting the person with cancer and it has become a big part of your life and daily, weekly and monthly routine during treatment and you are unsure how to support the person after treatment, as this next stage is not talked about and not enough awareness around it.
During treatment you may have put your own needs and support aside and now you don't know how to process your own emotions and experiences leaving you also feeling alone.
L.I.F.E after cancer treatment is something that is not talked about enough.
We get to this stage in our journey and wonder what is happening to us.
Why aren’t we going back to life as we knew it before hand?
We expect that once treatment is finished for either the person who had the treatment or their support network, that things would go back to who we were before and life carries on as if it has just been on pause for a year or two while we deal with this bump in the road.
Though it just doesn’t.
We are changed forever and nothing we can do as much as we might want to, will ever change the fact that we have been on one heck of a roller coaster, our emotions, our belief systems and our fears are all different from what they were before from the experiences we have been through.
We feel terror and dread of the what next.
What if it comes back, what if this and what if that.
We are now living in the world of what ifs and the reason is because we have had our world crashing down on us in a split second before, we are afraid of it happening again as it is all soo raw and fresh in our memories.
You know what?
All of these feelings and experiences mentioned above are all normal.
You are not weird, different or not normal for having these feelings and thoughts.
In fact, I’d be surprised if you didn’t relate to at least one or two of these.
They are all part of our ‘new normal’.
It is all part of L.I.F.E after treatment and the 4 phases we go through in this next unspoken about part of our journey outlined below.
This is the phase you are in as soon as treatment is finished. You are left lost out at sea and don’t know which way to turn next. The enormity of what you have just been through hits you like a brick as this has been the first time you have had a chance to actually stop living on autopilot of appointments, treatments and being told what is happening next. It all catches up with you and you suddenly feel overwhelmed.
All the raw emotions are coming up for you. You are angry, petrified of recurrence, tired, vulnerable and no longer feeling like you as you feel like an insecure mess. You are wondering why you are not going back to who you used to be. You feel unheard and ungrateful for life. Why have you been through all of this and not come out the other end being grateful and appreciating the small things in life like they show in the movies. What is wrong with me?
You are now ready and wanting to find who you now are. What you love. What sets your heart and soul on fire. You are starting to understand that you will never be that same person you were before diagnosis and you are ready to find and rediscover who you now are. Finding new tools and techniques in your tool box to get you moving towards the shoreline once more.
Life is starting to excite you and make you feel in control and energized once more. You are now creating your vision of what your new YOU looks like and you feel elated and passionate about it. The days that you struggled to get out of bed every morning and look at yourself in the mirror have gone. You have been replaced by this new person who now has a spring in their step and doing what they love again. This is where the fun starts!
Embracing life after cancer.
For some people these stages may take a few years to work through and others quicker.
There is no right or wrong and everyone is completely different.
So don’t panic and think you are not getting to where you want to be, these 4 phases are a process that takes time and work and sometimes you do need to ask for help and that is ok to.
It is important that you understand this and be gentle on yourself.
Having a strong support network during this time is extremely important.
Knowing that you are not alone. Having someone to talk to who understands makes things so much more manageable on your path back to shore.