Living with the Anxiety & Trying to Move on
It has been nearly 3 years since I was first diagnosed with small cell bladder cancer. Wow, what a ride! One minute we are laughing and living for the future, the next we faced having the rug pulled from underneath us.
Undergoing palliative chemo
Time, we were told, was not on my side. I was to have "palliative" chemo, which means just enough to try and kill those nasty cancer cells but not enough to really blast them. It felt like looking at the sand passing through an hourglass, being helpless to do anything about the passing time.
I am so glad to be sitting here, typing this now, as we really didn't think that I would be here. How quickly 3 years have gone. 3 years of living with the effects of cancer. Gosh, I consider myself very fortunate. I know it could have been worse, and as for the future? Who knows?! My oncologist says that it should have come back by now, but it hasn't!
Living with fear
I have spent the past 2 years, certainly, living with this fear over my head. Being told "not to worry" and that "I'll be one of the lucky ones who will live forever" and "they don't always get it right, you know." Being told to "look on the bright side" and, for the most part, I have; however, there have been dark moments within. Dark moments that I can't control, which are natural.
I want to embrace every new day
Most people who survive a cancer diagnosis and treatment will feel "lost and broken" at some point in their journey, whether they admit it or not! I don't want to live for the "whats if's' or the "should haves"; I want to live my life, right here, right now. I want to embrace every new day with a smiles and gratitude.
The anxiety after cancer
And I do try. It's just that... every ache, every pain, every twitch.. oh, the anxiety that comes with it! You do wonder, "Is this it? Is it back?" I usually try and keep this to myself, and the relief when the pain or ache goes away. Sometimes, it doesn't go. Sometimes it stays for weeks, and then my mind goes into overtime. How can you tell others? They will just think you are a hypochondriac, but trust me when I tell you the anxiety is real! The fear that comes with it all is REAl!
Cognitive behavioral therapy
I'm thinking of having some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I am hoping that I can get to the point where I can truly live my life without fear. I guess that problem that I have is that even when I WAS seriously ill with cancer, the doctors didn't see it! No one listened, and I am frightened that that will happen again, so I feel I have to be constantly aware of my body and any changes.
CBT is a form of talk therapy. It looks at the way you behave and how you manage situations. CBT gives you the tools to amend how you are thinking or feeling. It helps to reprogram your brain, so to speak, to help you process information and feelings better and deal with anxiety and depression.
My outlook has changed
I have also decided to have my port taken out, as it is over a year and a half since I have had active treatment. My diagnosis may not have changed, but my outlook has, and I want it to continue changing. This means that I have to stop looking at myself as "someone whose cancer will return" and start seeing myself as a "survivor" and that I have come through the other side, smiling.
Getting rid of the dark cloud
I will still actively promote and raise awareness of all things bladder cancer and Neuroendocrine cancers. I will still speak and share my journey; however, for now, I shall be focusing on moving forward and trying to rid myself of the dark cloud that tends to follow me everywhere. The dark cloud that reminds that it could be back whenever the hell it chooses. I can't live my life like this anymore. I want to look to MY future, the future I never thought I would be here to live.
Living life AFTER cancer
Sometimes it feels like climbing a HUGE hill. Sometimes it feels that I will never make it, but I know that I am not alone. Having spoken to other Cancer Survivors, it has become apparent that we all seem to share the same fears, we struggle with the same issues. I feel we need a lot more help surviving and living life AFTER cancer. We seem to struggle with getting cancer "out of our heads." If anyone is struggling with these issues too, please go and speak to someone, be it a doctor, therapist, or social worker.
Have you shared your bladder cancer story on BladderCancer.net?