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You are through with the treatments, your tests show the cancer is gone, so what now? The life that you lived for a year or more is changing again. No more driving to appointments, chemo therapy, radiation.  That’s the good news. But now you are sitting at your breakfast table, wondering what your life is about after cancer.

During your treatment all of the attention was on you. The nurses, technicians and doctors were all concerned about your well being. All of your friends and family had gathered around and were sending you emails, get well cards, little gifts and calling to find out how you were doing. But now the many people that had been in your life are all but gone with the exception of the good friends and family.

You had defined your life around cancer; you were a cancer patient. So what are you now? A Cancer patient in remission? A cured cancer patient? How do you take the C word out of your life? It’s not easy. During your days and months of cancer it was so easy to say to people, I am a cancer patient. I have breast cancer and most would respond with sympathy. But now your friends and family might even be tired of hearing it. You hopefully are doing well. You are not the weak person that they thought you might be and you survived. You are strong. And they have problems too.

I can remember talking with a friend  not long ago who was having severe financial problems, had lost her job and was about to lose her home. And I said to her, but you don’t have cancer. And that was true. But to that person, life was just as precarious as was yours. Her survival was as much in jeopardy in their mind as was yours. But that was the thought, wasn’t it? Especially with good friends and family who were facing the possibility that you could no longer be with them And now, your longevity is secured, it’s just another day and life goes on.

So what now? You can stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with life. Yes, you did that, we all do. And we love getting the attention. But now it’s time to move on from cancer. What have you always wanted to do with your life that you have been putting off? Going back to school? Traveling, if you have the money. And if you don’t have the money find a way to make more money so that you can do those things that you have been yearning for. Volunteering? You’ve come through this cancer in fine form, how can you help others do the same?

Speaking personally, now that I have my life back again, I am looking at all of the things that I said I would do “next year” and making sure that I put them on my calendar. I may not get to all of them but I’m going to try. I am also cleaning out the excess in my life, and getting rid of the unimportant things, both ethereal and  material. Cleaning closets, getting rid of clothes that I no longer wear, donating them to thrift shops so that others can enjoy them. I am looking at what is important and what is not and believe me when little problems crop up, I say to myself, don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small in the scheme of things. Everything can be solved and will be one way or another. And sometimes we have control and sometimes not and we have to face that.

I am making sure that I continue in a healthy lifestyle. Keeping up with my exercise program, eating healthy foods. I am also filtering the information that comes to me and trying to only listening to that which is a benefit. Hard to do with so much flying through the airwaves, social media and network news. I sometimes get forty emails a day and that has to stop. It takes time to sort through all of them. And I am taking the time each day to think about how fortunate I am to be alive and well. And now I had better do something constructive with my life herein out.

Has cancer been a life changer? In some ways. I have to say I would rather not have gone there, but I didn’t have have that choice. Am I a better person because of it? Well, maybe. I thought I was doing fairly well before I was diagnosed. But I do think I am doing a better job of getting my priorities in order.  And I found out that I have many friends and people who care and that has been a revelation for me.  Is cancer still in my life? Yes, but no longer on the forefront. I am not a cancer patient. I am a survivor.

One Response

  1. Elaine, I sure don’t have any answers for you. Doug and I are in the unemployed loop and your post really hit home. I do see you climbing more mountains and spreading your charm and smile to those around you. Perhaps another book, perhaps motivational speaking, perhaps just enjoyng life with your dogs. You will always touch those around you and be of help not matter what.

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