Life after a cancer diagnosis
My nephrectomy was 4 months ago life is moving on. I have been feeling OK as of late. Physically I almost feel like “me” before the cancer. Emotionally I realize that things are now changed forever. In October ,which is here, I will meet my new oncologist. He will order “scans” and blood work so the cycle of surveillance begins for me. I was told that for the next 2 years I would have scans and blood work. Hopefully my cancer will not return but it just may. There is no way to tell how things will go. I was told that due to my tumor size I am at higher risk for recurrence. I will hope for the best. Many of you have already traveled the cancer trail some are just beginning the journey. Where ever you are with your cancer there is always hope. There may be pain and discomfort but we must fight to beat the beast that is cancer. I want to think of scans as “positive” in hopes of quelling my anxiety “scanxiety”. I have scan anxiety right now. A sense of dread intertwined with fear of the unknown. I don’t like the drive to the cancer center it tends to fill me with much stress. I don’t like checking in for appointments, the same questions asked, the same answers given. I am a cancer patient at a cancer center and that doesn’t sit well with me. I have an ID card with my name on it reminding me I am a member of a new club I never thought I would be be a part of! Faces are becoming familiar at the cancer center. At this point of my journey, I feel no comfort in the “new“familiar. It feels very foreign and not part of me. It’s been 4 months that is not very long since the cancer “ officially” invaded my life. Yet in many ways it feels like an eternity. So much has happened in those 4 months. I am grateful that my panic stage is over. I do feel less anxious in general. I am grateful for this site and for everyone who has given me insightful advise and direction. I find it most helpful! I feel supported which is very much appreciated. We all need to feel support! There are so many of us out there! There is strength in numbers!
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My Whipple was 5 years ago. Having cancer does change your whole outlook on life. It totally changes your priorities. It makes you think a lot about your mortality. Always in the back of your mind is the thought that the cancer may come back. I remember going back to Mayo for my first scan, the scanxiety was very high for 3 or 4 weeks before I went in. With each clean scan the anxiety got less and less until my 5 year scan. I kept thinking, "This is my last scan. What if….."
In the first 2 years after my diagnosis, everyone else that I knew who had pancreatic cancer had died. I felt guilty that I was still alive. It was only after meeting other survivors at a PanCAN Purplestride event in Sioux Falls, SD did I finally learn to appreciate each and every day of life. I have learned to accept my physical limitations, but I view every day as a gift from God. Five years and still cancer free is a good reason to celebrate life!
Thank you for sharing your story. I love to hear from others. You are a survivor! Wow awesome! You have paid your dues! It is such a scary thing this beast called cancer. But people do beat it and it makes me happy! It gives me courage.
Two years ago, the biopsy of my right kidney revealed a sarcoma tumour – kidney cancer is rare but a sarcoma is even rarer. Last week I had my fourth CT and MRI and this week, I was given the results. No evidence of disease, I was told, and I now will go to yearly checkups. I hate the MRI but just "tough it out." I've no words of advice. Think all of us have to do what works for best for us. In my case, I started following a few other kidney cancer patients, and their stories were horrific. I found them to be brave and a lot stronger than I am. Some have since died, but every day, they inspire and humble me. Whenever that anxiety, that fear, that worry comes, my memories of these wonderful people push it aside. Hope this helps.
Hello @azkidney57 You are certainly correct that cancer certainly changes lives, outlooks on life, and how you look at the calendar! My wife fought her war with a different cancer (brain) but I well recall how the calendar of our lives changed as we went appointment to appointment. First monthly, then every other, quarterly, and then thought we'd hit it big when the oncologist suggested every six months!
The fear and stress of testing and therapies can be overwhelming, too! My wife always had me sit at her feet during her MRIs and touch her. I can still hear all that thumping, whirring, etc. in my sleep!
I wish you nothing but the best going forward.
Strength, courage, and peace!
I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last Dec and had surgery April 10th of this year. My first 3 month checkup showed NED however there are a couple of spots on my liver that have darkened since the last CT so per the radiologist suggested an MRI as the spots are too small to biopsy.
Yes, I too have scan anxiety, not quite as bad as when I went thru the initial staging process but still always in the back of my mind.
I’m grateful I’ve had the summer to work on building up my body with walking my dogs, doing yoga, golf, mowing my yard. @ this stage there is nothing I can’t do that I did before my diagnosis. Now I am going thru a program called Live Strong @ my YMCA which is for cancer survivors and their caregivers. We do strength training, cardio, yoga and some mat exercises for balance. This is a 12 week program twice a week for about an hour each session. We have 8 cancer survivors and three caregivers in our class.
My point in telling you this is because the more I engage in the daily activities that I enjoyed in the past and staying engaged with people that matter and care about me, the better I feel. I do think about my upcoming MRI and my 2nd 3 month checkup, but I refuse to let it control my life. I will do what I can to keep this cancer from coming back by my diet, physical activity and God’s mercy.
Peace and courage as you continue your journey.
@puprluvr Your post is so uplifting! I especially like the paragraph about doing the things you like and engaging with people that matter and who care about you. That is so important!
@azkidney57 – You hit the nail on the head with your post! Cancer changes almost everything. I found that my normal worries dissipated. I had another thing, a big thing to worry about that took it's place. You will most likely see further changes along the way. You write very well and should journal all of your feelings, your story. It might help you heal faster. My lung cancer journey began 22 years ago. Yes there is much hope! Are you able to exercise yet?
I am also doing the Livestrong program at the Y. When look at clinicians suggestions to help with fatigue, they tell you to exercise. It seems like an odd suggestions for someone who has no energy, but willing to try. The program at Y is a great program to start exercising and regain your energy and endurance. The people in program are great and encouraging. If nothing else, I do sleep better on days I exercise. I have also started taking water exercise classes, I have problems with my balance and hip; while working out in water I do not have to worry about balance and less stressful on joints. .
I understand what you are saying about water exercise, @roch. I enjoy it as well and don't have the balance and joint problems in the H20!!!
Good for you Laurie. So happy to hear you have the live strong program to attend. I hope the program becomes available all over our country. I love it and so good to be with other cancer survivors and seeing their determination to help themselves become stronger.