I was thinking back to what the professionals tell you when you are first diagnosed. Sometimes I wonder if everyone gets the same information. I love my doctors and am very pleased with the care and results that I got. However there are things that just aren’t discussed. I often times go to breast cancer blogs to get answers from other survivors that have the same issues and feelings. As a stage 4 patient my journey is very different than most women’s. I thought I would share some of the things I have struggled with now that I am a year out.
1. I have guilt. There I said it. I am so very glad that God healed me but I struggle daily with why he picked me and yet there are women dying every day from this horrible disease. What makes me special? This is apparently very common. It is called survivor guilt. I am working on each day just being thankful that God did choose me.
2. It is very hard to look back at pictures. I look so sick! I didn’t see it at the time because I was so focused on fighting. It also makes me very sad that people always told me how good I looked. Let’s be honest, that “haircut” did not look good on me! I know that they were just trying to be nice. I wish someone would have just said “put on your wig already!”
3. Being stage 4 means that the cancer will come back it is just a matter of when. That being said I feel like I am on pins and needles waiting. Each night I beg God not to let it come back and every morning I wonder if this is the day the cancer will decide to attack. Every new pain worries me. I sometimes feel like a hypochondriac. I wonder if this will lessen as the years go by and I am cancer free. And if it does lessen will I not catch it?
4. I feel guilty when I get mad at my kids or have to discipline them. I want my kids to be well behaved and do well in school, but I feel when I have to be strict I am loosing out on so much. I don’t want my kids to remember me being the “mean” one. I want their memories to be happy ones. It hurts my feelings when Jett tells me that “you are so mean” when I do discipline. This I know is a normal feeling with parents but when you are diagnosed with a terminal disease you feel those hurtful words even more.
5. I feel that I have to make the most of the time with my kids. I am not promised a “next time” with my kids. Every experience or event could be my last. By this time next year I could not be here, be going through chemo or surgery, or just not have the energy to enjoy them. And while spending all that time with them doesn’t sound like a bad thing, the thought that I might not get to be there is very hard. I have been blessed and have not had to return to work. John and I decided that spending time with the kids was more important. It makes me very sad to think that someday I might not be there for them and not get to see the joy on their faces at a new experience. I also might not be there to soothe their hurts or talk them through a difficult time. To a mother that is the wost thing to take away.
I have been working through these feelings for a long time and I thought I would just share them. Sometimes I wonder if being a survivor is just as hard as being a warrior.