You've gotten a lot of good advice here and I don't want to be repetitive, but I feel the need to try and answer this question:
Lydia666 wrote:Are you guys able to enjoy life? Do you think about it all the time?
My mind was reeling after my diagnosis. I tried to put on a brave front during the first few weeks, but it was impossible to not think about cancer 24/7. You are definitely going through the very worst time in a cancer journey, IMO. Not knowing what is going to happen, not having the answers to all the questions, is mind-blowingly miserable. Period.
The same questions you've asked were running on a loop in my brain all day and all night long for a few months after diagnosis. I was in 'survival' mode and did what I was supposed to do(appointments, medication, etc) but there was no joy in my life at all. I could not understand how people LIVED with cancer as opposed to just survived. I looked for the answers anywhere I could find them, i.e. on the forum, with a social worker assigned to me at the hospital and with a psychologist specialized in oncology. Everything pointed to the fact that yes, people with cancer can enjoy life, but I didn't know HOW.
The answer for me is that it takes time. Like that anti-bullying campaign from a few years ago, I can tell you that "it gets better". Everyone is different so it may take a few weeks for some, a few months for others, but it gets better. Based on my experience, I'd say the things that can help you get out of 'survival' mode and into 'living' mode a bit faster are:
- get your pain under control, if you have any. I suffered needlessly for too long because I was afraid of taking narcotics. If you have pain, tell your dr and use what they prescribe. If it doesn't work, ask for something different. You don't get addicted when using pain meds for pain.
- get enough sleep. Being constantly exhausted doesn't help your mental state. If your brain is too wired to sleep, don't be afraid to ask for some medication to help you through this tough time. You won't need it forever.
- get the support you need. Talk to your family, bff, a counselor, use the forum, etc. Talk when you want to talk, cry when you want to cry, feel what you have to feel. This saved me from going batsh*t crazy during the miserable first months.
- take an anti-depressant if you aren't bouncing back in a few weeks.
I'll be blunt and say that chemo/radiation and surgery was mentally hard for me. I didn't really start feeling better until my surgery was done and I could stay away from the bathroom for more than 30 minutes at a time. But once the tumor was out and my colostomy was in, I finally started LIVING again. I was enjoying life again, even during my 6-month FOLFOX regimen. I took pleasure in little things like talking to friends, getting a massage, having a good glass of wine, etc.
I still think about cancer every day, but that's because i'm still in active treatment. But I think about a lot of other stuff too, most of it happy.
So to answer your questions: yes, I do enjoy life and no, I don't think about it all the time.