I totally understand this. I was much older than you (55) when diagnosed, but had recently run a decent half-marathon, had run 4 marathons before that, had (still have) a great, demanding career, was doing the occasional singer-songwriter gig, was writing my first novel, and had (still have) two awesome teenagers and an all-around great life. Two years later, and an hour or so ago I just had my chemo port flushed. (Though I do still plan to run a few miles later in 85F and working on novel #2 later tonight.) Yep, that’s an interesting turn of events. While I can’t pretend to understand the challenge of being 29 and facing this, I know the total, jarring “reset” this causes to an active, healthy, confident person who is looking forward to an awesome life. And youth definitely makes this harder.
I don’t have a magic bullet for that. It’s a heavy burden. I think your reaction is totally normal. I also think you’ll eventually find a space where you can handle it, given time. As I posted on your other thread, you seem to have really good prospects (understanding that even so it’s a bad event and a new burden). I will venture this about my experience, and I don’t mean to trivialize this or ignore the fact that everyone’s journey/battle is different, but someone else recently said it on another thread (a person who’s had a tough stage IV journey): Having cancer has changed my perspective on life 100% for the better. I don’t sweat the small stuff, or even (most of) the big stuff, anymore. I am more forgiving of others. I see beauty in tiny little things that I ignored before. It’s true that there’s more risk of death, for some of us more than others—and yeah that would be a big bummer—but I am certain that if I make it through I will be a far better person and my life will have been much deeper and better than if I had never gotten the disease. (If I don’t, that still will be true, but, regrettably, for a shorter time : )
I’m not saying I would have chosen this path; I wouldn’t have. But life is by no means over or just about “not dying” the moment you get a cancer diagnosis. I hope I can keep using this experience to make things better, as a gift, not worse.
It may be too early for this kind of thing, or just not where you are mentally. I respect that. Feel free to dismiss this as the ravings of a mad person who’s had too much coffee. But as someone who was full-on about life when this happened—and who felt in the prime of life even though I was 55—I am still proud, happy, hopeful, and loving life. This sucks sometimes, sometimes a lot, and that’s ok, too. But if it makes sense to see it as a bridge to a better, more engaged life, maybe that will help. And it just might be true.
7/19: Rectal cancer: Initially staged as IIIA, T2N1M0
Initially approx 4.25 cm, low/mid rectum, mod. well diff. adenocarcinoma
8/22 -10/14 4 rounds FOLFOX neoadjuvant, 3 w/Oxiplatin (lots of side effects/reduced size est. 70-75%)
neoadjuvant chemorad 11/19
4 rounds of FOLFOX July-August 2020
ncCR found 10/20; multiple biopsies negative
TAE 11/20, small amount of tumor removed, lung nodules orig id’d 6/20 stable Nov 2020
Chest CT 3/30/21 small growth in 2 nodules (3 and 5mm)
Stable in 6/28 scan.