Let’s talk about Cancer

Yep, the big C word. Has anyone seen that show by the way? I hear it’s good.

I think a lot of what I have experienced in my young adult years has not been a physical battle but a mental battle. Yes, I had to deal with a physical aspect of an amputation. But in reality, most of the effects I felt from having cancer and an amputation were mental.

Mental battle one– Can you say I have cancer? Because I sure had trouble with it.

Mental battle two– What happened to MY life?! Doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Feeling as if you’ve lost yourself and any sense of a normal life. This one is tough and I personally think young adult cancer patients feel the pain of this the most. I mean come on, we’re in our late teens/early 20s. You know those years where you hung out with your friends 24/7, slept on people’s couches and enjoyed lots of beer? I tried to ignore the fact that I had cancer by over-socializing myself and pretending something was wrong. Which led to Mental battle three.

Mental battle three– Feeling like you are stranded on an island by yourself. Emo. No one gets you. Why me? Why me? Why me?! Tears, anger, every emotion flows through you during the stranded on an island phase. Hell, I had a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer a few years before but did that help me? No. I’d be shocked if everyone doesn’t go through this.

Mental battle four– Treatment. For me, it wasn’t chemo. It was surgery and recuperating after surgery. Learning to walk on that darn prosthetic.

Mental battle five– Back to life, back to reality. Treatments over. So now what? Life may seem a little odd now that you aren’t seeing your doctor 2+ times a week or you are returning to school or that normal you were hoping for so many weeks ago is starting to come back. Its hard to settle back in but you gotta do it! Its life!

Mental battle 6– Dark clouds. Dark clouds AKA the thought of recurrence. It’s there. Looming in the back of your mind. Don’t hide from cancer! Live your life! I do!

Cancer put me through the ringer. I came out of it insecure, anxious and with a major attitude. I wondered why me (let’s be real- I wondered this about 10 out of the 24 hours in a day) and will admit to being miserable to be around at points. But there is no generic time period that it will take for cancer patients and survivors to conquer these mental battles. It will happen when they are ready.

This is not to say that the mental battle stops because it doesn’t. Cancer sticks with you FOREVER. But for me it’s been a positive little guy on my shoulder. It’s a mental battle wound. When things get rough, I think to myself, “Oh come onnnnnn you’ve had cancer, how hard could this be?” It works. Trust me.

Anyway, the whole reason this blog came to being was because the movie 50/50 finally came out (I’ve been waiting for a whileeeeeee) and a major event that occurred yesterday.

50/50- SEE IT. DO IT. I can relate to the entire move. Minus the part about the parent wanting to move in because a.) I was living at home and b.) No way I’m ever letting my dad move in (Haha hope you all are laughing if you know him). The movie starts and before he even is diagnosed with cancer (yes, its about a young adult cancer patient) my stomach is turning, I’m choked up and my palms are sweaty. But I loved it! It was funny and touching. Just the right mix. Oh boy did they get this movie right. I wish they had covered what it’s like to be a survivor (you know that whole looming recurrence thing) but they only have so much time.

I’m so incredibly happy they decided to make this movie. It’s raising awareness about Young Adults facing cancer and we just don’t get enough attention! I’m serious. We’re in this awkward place- not pediatric but not old fogies.

So if you don’t live under a rock, you know that Steve Jobs passed away from Pancreatic Cancer yesterday. I felt overwhelmed with emotion when I heard about this. I often feel overwhelmed when I hear about people I don’t even know passing away from cancer. Immediately I thought, CANCER SUCKS! But Steve Jobs (at least on the outside to us) managed to survive the mental battle of cancer. He continued to look to the future and seemed to be positive about the world around him. Even though cancer is at the forefront of fundraising (thanks Lance) and everyone has been touched by it, sometimes a movement needs a boost and Steve has done that.

So there ya have it. Today we talked cancer.

P.S. If you are reading this as one of my friends or family, I’m sorry for being miserable. Hah! At least I know I was. (Still am?)

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2 thoughts on “Let’s talk about Cancer

  1. Amy Dodson says:

    Awesome blog, Danielle. You captured the difficulties of being a young adult with cancer. It’s funny….the amputation is such a small part of it all, isn’t it? For us, amputation was a positive, not a negative.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hid mine for over 10 years…because of the fear of recurrence, the stigma, feeling different.

    You are a rock star! And I’m so glad I know you!
    See you at SDTC.

  2. Audrey says:

    Danielle – this is a great post and thanks for sharing. I can’t even begin to imagine how much you have gone through, but for what its worth, you are 100% not at all miserable to be around. It is quite the opposite. I’m done with Portland and need some R&R, but I’ll be back on the track soon!

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