The Stigma of Cancer…

So… you had cancer… you went through chemo… surgery…. maybe radiation and goodness knows what else. Now everyone you know is super, amazingly over protective and you love them for it… but, you feel trapped… in your own body.  Doctors, family, friends… everyone says, “don’t overdo it… you need to rest… etc.”… but, you feel like your life is moving as slow as molasses and you don’t like it.  Not the slow motion, you don’t like your life… you don’t like laying there waiting to feel better, you wonder every day when you will be strong enough to do what you used to do.  Most of all, you want to do so much more than you used to.  You want to be the best person you can possibly be… if you can just break out of this new, sick shell that you are scared is your new normal.

For me, breaking out of my shell was very similar to going to the gym.  I had to push my body… there were so many days where I NEEDED to be in bed by noon… and later 4 pm each day.  The problem with this is, my girls were 4 and 6 and they don’t go to bed at noon or 4 pm… ever… so, for their sake, I pushed and pushed.  There were so many days when I was sure I couldn’t live the rest of my life like this.  Where I hated myself for being too tired to let my kids play outside.  I just wanted my old life back… the irony of that was that it was a life I didn’t appreciate when I had it… and I wanted it back so very bad.

So, here I am now… post chemo, post feeling like crap.  To say I have no side effects, no daily reminders of the past year is very far fetched… considering I have almost zero feeling from my chest to my lower stomach, scars everywhere and I now have very short hair… but, I am a better me than I have ever been.  I am stronger, kinder, I consider what matters in life every single day.

Here’s the thing though… I AM STRONG (Probably stronger than I ever was before)!  When you think of a cancer patient, you think of someone who is weak or dying and needs to take it easy… that whole sickly stigma.  I have seen cancer patients in the middle of weekly chemo treatments do amazing things… fly fish, cliff dive, white water kayak… fiercely!  They(and I) are so very strong… and can do amazing things… it just takes pushing yourself through to the limit…So, if you are weak today and doubting yourself, just keep pushing!  Never give up… <3