I am not going to apologize for the lack of posts here lately. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, emotionally, thinks suddenly became very difficult. I have dreaded writing in my blog lately because I didn’t want to pretend everything was okay, but at the same time, I wasn’t ready to face this. There is a side to cancer no one talks about and I have my own reasoning for why this might be. Beating cancer is one thing…living with the effects of cancer is an entirely different story. So here is mine…
There isn’t one specific moment that I can pinpoint triggered any of this. It just happened. I suddenly became depressed…not sad…but uncontrollably depressed. Over the last few weeks, I have tried so hard to figure out why. I was doing so well…why is this happening? Why can’t I move on? Why am I living and obsessing over something so awful that happened? Really, I am not “living” at all. I was happy spending my days in my bedroom. I was happy not talking to anyone. I was happy living in my own little world while the rest of the world had no clue what was going on inside of my head. Even though sleep is all I wanted to do, not much if it was happening because of my racing mind. I love food, but eating wasn’t a priority to me. I have all the clear signs of depression, and at first, it was hard for me accept this. It just isn’t me – It’s not who I am. I like to laugh, I like to be goofy, and I like to be around people. What I don’t like, is crying every day, yet that seems to have become a regular occurrence these days. So instead of hiding it, which only makes it worse, I figured I would write about it. After all, half the reason I write in this blog is because it’s therapeutic. So here goes…
I feel like I am standing still while the entire world is spinning around me. While everyone else is living their lives I am stuck in the last year of mine. My family and friends all took care of me, whether from near or far. Friends from the past popped out of the word work because I was sick. I received cards, and gifts, and phone calls and texts from everyone who was surprised yet concerned about me. Then cancer left my body…and most of those people disappeared. While I don’t demand or need the attention, I sometimes wonder why they even made that appearance. Let me make something very clear to those that don’t understand anything about cancer, because I can promise you, this feeling is mutual amongst most survivors. Just because I am cancer free, does not mean I am okay. In fact…fighting cancer was easier than dealing with the fears and depression I live with daily now. I was confident one day that my cancer would be gone. I never imagined in a million years it would haunt me every single day thereafter. It is difficult not knowing when this is going to go away. I fear this is my life now. As much as I try to not let it be, the fact of the matter is, cancer happened to me. I am scared I will live in fear for the rest of my life and that I am going to miss out on living life the way life is meant to be lived. For someone who doesn’t understand this...it is not as simple as just waking up and deciding to not live this way anymore. Or maybe it is…but right now…I am not processing that option.
I feel resentful and angry at people for continuing to live their lives around me, while I am stuck. That might sound crazy to you…but maybe it’s more of a jealousy feeling than anything else. I WISH I could go about my life and be “Jen before cancer”. It is frustrating to me that as much as I would love that…it’s not possible. I don’t doubt that I can be a better Jen once I get past this…but getting over this mountain is pretty challenging. When will that time come? When will this get better? I WANT it to all just go away, everything about it. The most frustrating part, is feeling alone. No one around me understands what I am going through. All of the tears and words in the world couldn’t give it justice. It’s a circling of emotions, of fears, of challenges, of wanting to do something and being so determined to do it, but not having the desire. It’s frustrating losing my train of thought mid-sentence and feeling like I sound like a complete idiot. It’s not remembering what I did less than 24 hours ago or being told the same thing 55 times. It’s the physical toll that chemo took on my body physically and mentally. I am 34 and I feel like I am trapped in a 65 year old body with aches and pains and forgetfulness. I have ZERO control over much of anything anymore and maybe cancer happened to me, to teach me that I didn’t need to be in control all of the time. Maybe that was the lesson I was supposed to learn. I don’t know…but I do know this…
You can tell me I am strong all you want but those words don’t register to me. I fought because I had too and you would do the same if you were told the same news. You don’t just give up and let a disease take over your body. You fight back. I am not strong because I did this, I am human. I am still fighting and a battle that I thought at one point I won…now feels like I am losing. Cancer is winning right now…because it still makes its daily appearance in my head. I am so f’ing angry at cancer right now. I have no answers, no timeline for when these feelings will go away – so my only choice is to fight them…just as I did my cancer. I want to make something very clear to those closest to me…
Pardon me for my lack of emails, texts, or phone calls. I am busy taking care of myself right now. If you’re wondering how I am doing ask me. My life isn’t cancer – don’t assume that it is. In fact, I feel the most normal when I am on the phone talking about my life outside of cancer. I am still a supportive wife, the best stepmom you’ll ever meet, a daughter, a sister, and an amazing friend. Those things about me have not and will never change but I am rediscovering what it is about this life that brings me joy. At one point, before cancer, those questions didn’t exist. Sure I was always making changes and working on becoming a better person but this is different. I feel as though I am rebuilding myself. The foundation will always be there but I am building a new home for Jen. Accepting that is difficult but I want to believe it’s going to result in a beautiful ending. On the positive side of that, is that fact that I get to choose who that person will be. I get to rediscover what I am passionate about, what brings me joy, what makes me cry, and what makes me laugh. My hope is that my closest friends and family will join me in this portion of journey. If you haven’t heard from me, reach out to me, it’s probably when I need it most. Please.
I never asked for this. This wasn’t where I wanted to be at 34. My life wasn’t supposed to go this way and I will slowly learn to accept that and move on. Patience. Patience from you, patience with myself, just pure patience. This will not change overnight and I anticipate more tears will fall as I climb this mountain. One day at a time. This has to get better. It just has too. God did not keep me here to live this way. He kept me here so that I could enjoy life to its fullest. Each and every day I will continue to pray for the strength to do just that. Thank you to a very loving cousin for those words of encouragement. Time will pave my road to happiness and I truly believe that statement. With the continued love, support, and prayers…I will win. I will smile a genuine smile again and feel joy in life because everyone deserves that. Including you.
Lu Ann Michaelree @Craftygirl
1/7/2015 10:19:00 am
I will pray for you to find your new path to happiness, Jen. Remember, sometimes, your one goal of the day, may be to reach out and telephone or e-mail someone who isn't aware that you need help right now. Tell them your journey/struggle is not over.
1/7/2015 10:28:16 am
I also am going through what you have blogged. It is a struggle each say to deal with the after effects of surviving cancer. The word I always feared and then it happened. And you are right going thru chemo, radiation, surgeries and tests seem to have been the easy part. Although we both know it was a fight to win the battle.
I hear you...and honor what you're feeling. Fighting cancer can feel like a very lonely battle. It does get easier over time...and the intensity fades, although I'll be honest, I don't think some of the feelings and fear ever go away. To me, it feels like a little cloud that has followed me around for 16 years, sometimes the cloud is off in the distance, but never disappears from view. The part about people being there initially, but disappearing is true for everyone...it's not personal, I really do believe it's human nature to rush to people's sides in the heat of the crisis, but then they quickly move on to other new crisis and to living their lives. It doesn't mean they don't care. It's interesting that some people truly don't want to bother you...others can't deal with illness...and others are dealing with their own life crisis. I guess I just want you to know that I care, I understand and I can hear in your post that you bring so much to the world...hang on to those things that bring you joy and meaning. Sending you love and light. Misty
1/7/2015 01:07:23 pm
Jen, I'm not done w/chemo & treatments and I already have those sad and lonely moments. I hated being on FB sometimes bc I hated hearing how wonderful everybody's life was and how shitty chemo life was for me. So. I know that I too will deal w/these same struggles as you bc I already have some of them now. That is why I am glad I met you bc you introduced me to women like you and me. Women who know the fight, struggle with the aftermath, and carry the fear on their shoulder. I hope you get through this soon with the help of those ahead of you and with the love and support of your family. I know one day it will get easier for all of us.
1/7/2015 02:18:23 pm
No pretending!!!! Time to kick off your shoes... And dance!!! :) Love this and happy that you pushing yourself!!! Go Jen Doll Reynolds!!!
1/10/2015 11:47:45 am
Thank you for putting a lot of what I'm feeling into words. I'm 57 and feel and think I look 77 these days.
1/15/2015 01:17:58 pm
Keeping you in my prayers as you rediscover yourself and embark on this new journey. I can relate to you from the depression and anxiety aspect and it is such a terrible feeling. I love your positive outlook for yourself and I pray that you smile that genuine smile!
2/17/2015 01:38:58 pm
Wow..... It's nice to know that I'm not the only one feeling angry or resentful because people around me are continuing to live their lives while I'm stuck in the middle if this shit storm. I just finished chemo on Feb 6th and will be starting radiation within a couple of weeks and I already feel this way. I'm kind of terrified of what I'm going to feel months from now. I will just continue to pray that God continues to guide me and give me strength. Thank you for sharing!!
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