Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I Thought it Got Easier?

"Things get easier, you will get less stressed with each check up" - Everyone who I talked to who had cancer and is in remission

One of the hardest things I have dealt with since finishing cancer treatment is the growing sense of fear that everything will be taken from me again.

Fear of recurrance is a real issue that cancer patients deal with, and a lot of the time, I really feel like most people don't really understand that too well. I get the fact that most people want to be done with cancer "things" when treatment is over, and honestly the thought of going back is hard in everyone. I see the point of view of both family and care givers that it really took a toll on their lives. It really does take a toll.

However, for me, that toll seems to grow over time. It seems to get harder and harder with each check up. With each three month window life seems to get harder, more complicated, more difficult, and I am struggling to find the proper answers for things, or any "real" solution. 

I struggle more and more with "life" decisions. Where to work, what to do with money, where to live, etc. With every check up, I think "well I had those three months, it was a good ride while it lasted". Don't get me wrong, I am confident in my doctors, I am confident that they did everything possible for me and would do anything for me. I see all the time that these doctors at the cancer agency do their best to save lives. They are real heros. but it doesnt make me any less stressed out. Recurrance is  real, and I see it way too often. It makes me incredibly sad, and somedays, I feel incredibly helpless. I just want to live life and be happy. Make a difference, and continue on my way.

I don't know what to make of it these days. I still can manage to put it aside and go to work, and do my job. Get the bills paid, get things done. But it has gotten harder and harder with each check up. I know life isn't fair. I know, if it was, i wouldn't see children every time I go to the cancer agency. I just wish it actually did get easier. 

Not just for me, but for everyone in my situation.

Friday, 20 September 2013

21 Months

21 Months ago was my last day of radiation therapy.

It completed about a years worth of cancer treatments for Ewings Sarcoma that was in my leg and hip. I don't usually like to acknowledge that it was in my hip too, as it was only a small amount was there, but it was there nonetheless. 

This past week, I had my regular three month check up and it all went fine (thankfully). I have had several of these now and although the stress doesn't go away, this one seemed a little easier. Not because I was less worried about recurrence but more because I was so tired of worrying. I was completely exhausted.

For my next check up, 24 months, things get a little more exciting. This last appointment I had the conversation that was inevitable. The conversation that I knew was coming.

Now that you will be two years out, we need to start checking what damage the chemo drugs may have done.

This was the conversation we had to have. Chemotherapy kills, it is what it is built to do. It is aggressive because it has to be, and I am truly thankful that it is. It extended my life. I would most likely be dead today if this did not exist.

My next check up, is now far more complicated. I will have a full set of tests again, the regulars such as MRI, CT scans and blood work, X-rays and that weird tapping thing doctors do on your chest. However this time I get a little more. Examining areas that were fine before through CT. Something called an Echo Cardiogram which will look to see if the doxyrubicin caused damage to my heart. Seeing if I am tired, a possible cause being Leukemia (cancer cures can cause cancer, a fact I knew too well) and seeing if I am losing feeling in my fingers and toes.

I knew this all was coming, I just wasn't sure when we start to think about these things and it has left me surprisingly calm. I knew this was coming. I did my worrying about these things a long time ago. I have come to accept the inevitability that cancer treatment is very hard on someones body and to fully escape some of these long term effects I would have to be quite lucky.

I still worry about recurrence, I have these concerns too. It honestly has left me quite apathetic about many things in life. But it also motivates me to keep up the fight and keep helping to work towards cures by raising money. I have recently got my new web page almost done ( for this years "Ride to Conquer Cancer". I know, for me, many of these side effects will be unavoidable, however, I am optimistic that working to raise money will keep others from going through what I have/am.

I hope in another 21 months we are better along then we are now.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Some Long Weeks Ahead...

So Fall has begun and things are picking up at the University that I work at as is typical time of year. It really makes me miss the days of hanging around campus and going to classes and all the fun stuff (and stress) that go along with that). 

Lately, I have been pretty stressed with another check up coming up in a few weeks (21 months but who is counting?) and trying to find ways of dealing with all the stress that goes along with it. I have come to find that each check up seems stressful for a different reason, so using coping techniques from the previous time, doesn't really always work that well. I am less stressed about going into work around these times, when I first went back to work, my anxiety would be so bad that I wouldn't be able to do anything at work, but thankfully those days are gone. 

I have been able to accept the fact that these weeks leading up to check ups are very long, and very stressful times. I really am trying my best to manage and focus to get through these instances. It can be personally frustrating that I keep getting worked up, and I know this stress that is a result on me is not only hard on myself, but hard on the people around me. I am always thankful for the things people have done for me when I went through cancer. It wasn't fair to them to have to deal with these things, but then again, it wasn't fair to me either. 

Recently, I have found a good counselor who was really good to talk to and (finally) have some useful advice. I am no pro when it comes to dealing with cancer related stress, I know I have it, but can't do a lot about it (neither can the people around me) because I don't know how to fix things.This new one has been very constructive with giving me ideas and supporting my ideas on how to take care of myself and help get past these challenges. It has been quite refreshing, and I have been very thankful for this opportunity.

The stress has been tough to be honest. It has lead me to really down days, being upset at work, not doing things I enjoy, and not working on my writing (obvious?). The harsh realities as they set in are tough to deal with. Things like home ownership, health and life insurance, family planning, and investing all have become much more complicated due to my health concerns. That's tough because many of these issues are tough enough on their own. I hate being stuck in these situations, and they make the weeks even longer.

I am not quite sure what my next move is. Life is hard and I know I am making it harder for many of the people around me as a result of all these concerns and worries and whatever. I have learned that people don't always get what I go through, and that is fine because I don't get what others go through. But I am trying. I do want these long weeks to not be a recurring problem.