Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Well, it has been 8 weeks since I got my last dose of radiation.
I feel exponentially better than I did even a month ago.
My voice is coming back and I have more energy.
I am experiencing the same anxiety that I experienced last time I had cancer. Ultimately it revolves around the question "is the cancer back yet?"
There really is no way for me to describe the level of anxiety that this question brings on me.
Chest pain, inability to concentrate, insomnia, fatigue, and a general lack of interest in things I used to like to do are the ways that this anxiety manifests itself physically. Emotionally, I just want to sob (over what? I dont even know, i just feel like crying). Mentally, I feel an overwhelming sense of impending doom.
I thought I must be strange because it seems that having HAD cancer is causing me more grief, anxiety, and frustration than HAVING cancer did. I read something online yesterday that said that many cancer patients have a very difficult time dealing with emotions post cancer... specifically the fear that the cancer will come back and the hesitency of health care providers to use the word "cured" post treatment.
So, as is the norm for me, I have over analyzed the situation and looked at every possible option from anti-anxiety meds to councilling and have come to the conclusion that I have somehow got to come to grips with the fact that I am indeed a cancer patient and will continue to be a cancer patient for at LEAST the next 5 years. I will have to face my fears at least once a month for the next 12 months as I go see Doc S and he examines my larynx to see if the cancer has returned. If I remain cancer free this year (year 1), then i will see see him every 2 months in year 2, every 3-4 months in year 3, and every 4-6 months in year 4. Then, should I make it to year 5 without recurrance, I will see him annually until...whenever. Literature says that if a patient makes it 10 years without recurrance, they are considered "cured". 10 years seems like an awefully long time.
Anyway, that's where I am. As far as my health goes, I am fine. This seems to be what most people are concerned about. Most everyone assumes that I should be perfectly able to cope with this stinkin disease now that I am done with treatment. I suppose it is impossible for someone who has not had cancer to understand what it feels like post-treatment.
I saw Doc yesterday (my chest STILL hurts from the stress of that visit) and he said that I think too much. He said "You have changes directly related to radiation and the resultant healing process. I don't know where it will settle but it's like planning for repairing a house while the tornado is just about to hit it....you have to wait until the dust settles." I guess that is a good analogy. Right now, my whole life feels like it has been hit by a tornado.
I fully understand that I have had, and beat, cancer twice. I realize that this should be something to celebrate, but I don't really feel like celebrating. I am certain that if it comes back again i will fight it again....and again. So it does not make sense to me that the mention of my cancer causes me so much anxiety. It is as though my body and my brain are not communicating on this subject. My chest is so tight that I feel it in both arms and my neck.
I'm not really looking for advice or sympathy or even understanding. I mostly just wanted to record how I feel right now, because I know that I will feel better about all of this in time and one day I will forget how terribly hard and confusing this part of the journey was and I dont want to forget because when it is over, I want to be able to thank God for getting me through this dark valley just as he has the others. I absolutely believe that this is an opportunity for me to learn to trust God more and I know that I will have a deeper relationship with him when this is over. BUT right now I am having a difficult time letting go of my fears (of the cancer returning and of a new cancer developing as a result of the radiation) and totally trusting God to take care of all of it.