For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. Carl Sagan
The greatest gift of WWGN for me is my interaction with you. Sharing our stories tears down, brick by brick, the emotional wall we inevitably hit on our cancer journey. A WWGN reader left a powerful comment that eloquently sums it up:
My personal feelings of WHAT NEXT! WOW!
The strangest feeling of WHAT next? Imaginary loneliness and isolation! Confusion! From the day of diagnosis, it was constant GO, GO, GO, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT.. Never a minute of rest (although one would think fighting cancer requires a lot of rest!) But no rest mentally and often times physically. Traveling here and there, meeting this person, that person! Explaining to family, friends, repeating yourself OVER, and OVER! Prayers and hugs coming from every direction! The CENTER of attention during a horrible event! THEN! BOOM! Surgery over, healed, chemo done, radiation done.. Appointments done! Phone calls and inquiries slowly disappear! Life slowly resumes.. BUT, will my life be like it was? Am I the same? Where did everyone go? What do I do now? Do you GET WHERE I’m GOING? I was LOST.. IT was HARD to get back! I still wonder WHAT NEXT and I’m certain always will. But was it REALLY all about NATHALIE? I feel selfish! Should I? Anyone else have stories to share about how they felt AFTER all was OVER (hopefully for ever?)
The black hole of cancer sucks us into its vastness, whirling us about. Without a touchstone (what used to be called normal), our sense of direction is gone and life on the other side is unrecognizable. Then, when we are most emotionally lost, everyone else wants to move on, leaving us to ask, “Where did everyone go?”
When we feel abandoned it’s hard to find the love, but it’s there if you’re willing to do the work:
1. Get real with your family and friends about your emotional state. I know you’d much rather just move on and put cancer behind you, like they seem to be doing. If you’re not there yet, however, you have to be speak up and be honest. Putting on a brave front just leads to cance anger and resentment. Take it from me, there’s a lot of power in sharing your bad attitude toward cancer.
2. Get support from others who “get it.” The vastness of life after cancer is simply not bearable without the loving support of people who understand the cancer journey (cancer anger, loneliness, stress, cancer survivor’s guilt, body image, fear, and other after cancer emotions.) How do you find other cancer survivors and in-tune professionals? Communicate! Join a support group, see a therapist, get involved. I just spent the afternoon sitting on a panel for the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. Not only did I educate third-year medical family practice residents as to the effects of cancer on the whole patient, but I also got to spend time talking and sharing with other survivors. Reach out and keep reaching out until you get the support you deserve.
Every time I meet with other survivors, I bask in their understanding, validation and empathy – and that to me is love. Because I wanted Nathalie to feel that same love force, I posted her comment on my Facebook page. The responses she got came across loud and clear and assured me, and hopefully Nathalie, that we are a community of cancer and love ready, willing and able to make the vastness of cancer bearable for each other.
Tell me below if you felt like Nathalie after your treatment ended. Did you reach out to others for support and find the love?
Survival > Existence,