It's only natural for you to be scared and worry about it. When you were diagnosed, you were hit with something like a ton of bricks - a diganosis that isn't just cured with a pill or let to run its course like a cold. When you had surgery, you felt as though you were doing something to attack this intruder and when you were undergoing chemo, you realistically knew that no matter how yucky the treatments were , they were doing a very specific job - killing any stray cancer cells. The fact is, though, that when you are out of treatment it's YOU against the cancer and FEAR creeps in through every nook and cranny that's open. Surgery, radiation and chemo are crutches and we rely on them but once they are done, well, it's hard to let go and to not let our imagination and our worry center take over. If I am figuring correctly, you are probably out of chemo now for about 4 months or less?? You're scared because there's no more treatments, no more crutches to hang onto and you're worried that the cancer will come back. Well, yeah, it MIGHTcome back, but then again, it MIGHT NOT! You'll go through these doubts, these worry times from time to time but hopefully you'll notice that as each day passes and the further away from treatment you get that those worry days become less and less frequent. When you really think about it, you're missing out on a whole lot of quality time that you're spending worrying about something that has a low probability of happening.
As for other people, well that's hard. My own son (age 25) totally surprised me the other day. I was getting pestered about his upcoming wedding - could I meet with her parent's this weekend, how about this one, etc. and I was about to go beserk. My three month appt week (I schedule everything for the same week - onc, blood work, CT (if needed), surgeon and get it over with in one fell swoop) was coming up and I had just had it! I told my son about this and this very intelligent, college educated engineer was just astounded that I wasn't 'cured'. He assumed that since the surgery was a success - well what was I worrying about??? Here all along I had thought that he was rather insensitive and now I find out he was just ignorant. I spent so much time trying to shield my kids (now 27, 25, 23 & 17) from the day to day aspects of this disease that I guess I did them a disservice because they were totally out of touch. My hubby didn't and still doesn't know how to deal with it-mainly because I think it frightens him. Just this past week, I had to have an endorectal ultrasound because on my last visit the surgeon felt something. Turns out it was just scar tissue but I was still scared prior to the test thinking about all the 'what ifs'. You have to remember that every person reacts differently to the whole cancer journey. Most people who aren't going through it or haven't gone through something like this have a difficult time truly understanding what it is like.
You aren't crazy for being so scared, but you are letting life pass you by right now. It's easy for me to type this and tell you to try and relax a little. Tell me, is worrying going to change anything? Is worrying going to make it less likely for the cancer to come back or not to?? Is worrying and getting all freaked out about everything doing you any good - physically or emotionally??? NO, NO and NO. As you get further and further away from treatment you will find that you think about the what ifs less and less and start to enjoy life more and more. My best advice is try to take this one step at a time. Now that the weather is nice, try and focus on spending a morning or afternoon doing something that you really like - maybe something with your kids or maybe just something that you like to do and try to not think about treatments, your surgery, recurrence - nothing about cancer, even if only for a few hours. Try doing that each day and extending the time for 15 mintues or so each day and before you know it, you will find that you have spent an entire day just enjoying your life and having a good time. You may find that by trying to establish a 'normal' life again that you can find the quiet time at the end of day to talk with your husband or someone about your fears. You don't have to be strong for everyone else - just yourself right now. Those fears are always lurking and frankly, sometimes we want them to be - if for no other reason than to make sure we don't get too complacent about our health down the road. Don't be angry that you had cancer (notice I used the word HAD not HAVE). There's absolutely nothing that you did or didn't do that made you get cancer - it just happened. And yes, it sucks, but you can't go and turn the clock back. Don't spend your time letting anger rule how you live. Most importantly, do NOT let fear take hold of your life. Remember after 9/11 how so many people were afraid to go out and live - afraid to travel??? The terrorists used FEAR to rule our lives and almost won but we didn't let them. Don't let cancer be the terrorist and rule your life. Kick it in its butt and you conquer it! And when you have doubts or fears then you post here where you have friends who know how you feel because we have been there.
You take care and just know that everything you're feeling is totally normal and will pass if you will allow it to. You CAN get through this because you are STRONG and a SURVIVOR!
Dx 6/22/2006 IIA rectal cancer
6 wks rad/Xeloda -finished 9/06
1st attempt transanal excision 11/06
11/17/06 XELOX 1 cycle
5 months Xeloda only Dec '06 - April '07
10+ blood clots, 1 DVT 1/07
transanal excision 4/20/07 path-NO CANCER CELLS!
NED now and forever!
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