Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Internet is Not Your Friend

Okay, I don’t really mean that. I love the internet. It entertains me while I’m at my crappy job. It lets me talk to and see my family. It keeps me up to date on celebrity gossip. But it is also a terrible place filled with scary things. Especially when you google things like “hip pain after breast cancer” and find page after page after page of women talking about how their pain was bone metastasis.

Those pages are so hard to forget.

There are also pages and pages and pages of women who had bone pain and it was bursitis, or arthritis or ….not cancer, but for some reason, those ones fall out of my mind more easily. I’m sure all survivors feel this way at times, that their fate is not the “happily ever after” kind. The chances that my cancer will return and spread outside the breast are low (single digit given my stage and treatment strategy) and yet I see myself in all these women who will not survive cancer. I am haunted by a tiny little number, when I should be focused on the other, much nicer “88% chance of no recurrence” number. Why do I do that? Why am I unable to box up my fears and leave them on a shelf for the day? Why is this hip pain bothering me so much, not physically but emotionally?

Because survivorship is a mindf*ck.

At times I have real feelings of serenity and peace, assured that this cancer crap really is behind me. And in the same day, the same hour, the same minute even, I can feel sheer terror that cancer is at this very minute insidiously making a home in my body, stealing precious time from me.

I think it would be easier to handle if the turns didn’t happen so quickly…maybe. Survivorship is like being on a rollercoaster that you can’t get off; sometimes you love the ride because hey, at least you’re on it and other times you’re sure you’re going to die.

And no one tells you how to deal with this. Doctors never address it. It isn’t part of my medical plan. I talk about hormone therapy and bone scans and blood work with my doctors. I never talk about how I’m doing or how I’m coping.

On the whole, I think I’m doing pretty well. Magically, I managed not to become a total basket case through this whole nightmare. But I’ll never have a day again when I don’t think about cancer.  It is sort of like cancer is this annoying yappy dog who is permanently tied to my arm. Sometimes the dog is quiet and well behaved and I can ignore it. And sometimes is barks fiercely, and I feed it fear, and it grows and gets louder. Even when I'm not talking about it the dog is there: every day, every hour, ever minute.

In case you can’t tell, survivorship is what is most on my mind these days. Some days I’m hopeful (see my previous post). Some days I’m just scared. Mostly, I just want to figure out a way to live in this new reality, preferably in a state of hope and serenity. Worry sucks.


  1. You summed survivorship beautifully, in a way I couldn't - thank you.

    Cancer in your hip, THAT would be the worst! Blah.

  2. Thank-you, I have/had a different type of cancer to yourself, it is one of the rarest types of adult cancer and the oncologists in fact had never seen my type of cancer before.

    I am 31 and have the same struggle as you every day, from dealing with the chemo curl ( i am 6 months post chemo) and pretending to be grateful to people that you're just glad to have hair again, not to mention the fact its grey. I am coming up to the 1 year anniversary of my tumor discovery in April. People just don't understand that life "after" cancer can be just as hard if not harder sometimes than when you are going through treatment.

    I say the same thing everyday that google is my nemesis, I can go weeks without doing it and then a thought will pop into my head and I grab my iphone and search, inevitably it leads to a freak out. Every doctor says "DO NOT GOOGLE", but they may as well tell me not to breathe!

    Thank-you for helping me realise I am not alone, I have great days, good days, bad days and really bad days and I suppose it's all part of the survivor journey, it's just nice to know that other's are walking the same path as I am.