What they don’t tell you as a stage 4 patient

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.


7 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you as a stage 4 patient

  1. Michelle, continue to pray to God for another day and thank him each day as nothing is as strong as the power of prayer. We all have to enjoy every day as we never know when we will be called. You are doing the right thing by spending quality time with your family … they will remember you for all the good and realize when you did have to punish them it was because you did love them.

    I am very close to Breanna as her mother is not in her life on a day-to-day basis and she some times asked but what if you die? I tell her that death is part of life and my spirits will always be with her.

    You and your family continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. If you need to talk, just give me a call.


  2. On another subject, if you are still interested in selling your house, you may want to do some research on St. Joseph and purchase a statue and bury in your front yard … it worked for me every time we wanted to sell our home.

    Let me know if any questions. Take care …

  3. Michelle,
    I love your honesty. You are transparent and that is good. God already knows your heart. What I am hearing in your words is “fear”. Turn your fear into prayers to your Heavenly Father. Perfect love casts out fear. Don’t look back at the cancer, or fear cancer in your future. You can’t do anything about either one. Instead, enjoy each day as a gift from God. Everyone, regardless of our health or circumstances, should live that way. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 6:34 “Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
    Love you lots!!
    Aunt Kim

  4. Michelle,

    Don’t look back, only God know why he chooses some to stay and some to go, so don’t feel guilty. He has a purpose for you. You are beautiful just the way you are, so hang on to that!

    Don’t feel guilty about disciplining your kids. They might get mad for a moment, but will love you forever. Their memories won’t consist of not getting what they want at any given moment, but of the love and courage you display to them every day (and I can see that this is true from your blogs).

    Hang in there and know that there are lots and lots of prayers still being lifted up for you.


  5. MIchelle, but you are giving your children something many who have gone before all of us have not been able to, a running log of your thoughts. Your fears. Your worries. Your joys. Your concerns. Your desires. LIke how you want to be remembered. Its simple. I think we all want to be remembered, and loved, and good, kind parents. Keep on writing, girl. Your giving your kids more than you realize.

  6. Shelly….Yea, you’re still Shelly to me! 🙂
    I LOVE your honesty! You have been such an inspiration to this former elementary teacher of yours. I agree with Sherry that you are giving your children the BEST when you spend time with them and are writing your thoughts, joys, and hopes for them to read someday. Just keep trusting Jesus every day. We all have to do that, but I know it must seem so much more difficult at times for you. Love and many prayers continue for you.

  7. Dear Shelly,

    This story of your words and thoughts are why you were chosen, to inspire those that have been following it. You can tell the story how that we have a loving and healing God. It also tells us to keep trusting in Him if we have to go through trials, it may not be in the same way you were led through. God will continue to bless you and support you. God does have a work for you to do. And He will continue to lead you in your daily life in guiding you children.
    God bless you and your family.
    Love, Grandma

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