How it can feel when treatment finishes
If you have not had cancer treatment, it can be hard to imagine what it feels like when the day comes for your medical team discharge you. For me they never used the words ‘in remission’ with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, the best you can hope for is NED – ‘No Evidence of Disease’. But I’ll take that.
Such mixed emotions, I was happy that the chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiotherapy all appeared to have done the job of getting rid of that disease. My friends and family celebrated with me, and I expected to feel elated, exhilarated even, after all I had ‘fought bravely’ and won – right?
Instead I was weepy, exhausted and depressed. I was mourning the old me, the carefree me that could make plans for the future. I missed my old body, and hair, my thick healthy hair, that everyone said would grow back after chemo was done. Except it didn’t. I was torn between thinking of this as a mere vanity, after all my life had been saved. But I felt dreadful, I didn’t recognise this old woman staring back at me in the mirror. For a while I lost all hope, and I struggled to understand why.
This quote helped me enormously, written by a Doctor who understands.
“Imagine a roller-coaster – I have chosen this image to represent the process of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
On a rollercoaster, you will be strapped in and sent off into the terror, knowing that there is nothing you can do about it until you emerge, wobbly and battered at the other end.
You manage by getting your head down and dealing with it as best you can at the time.
It is only afterwards, when you are on solid ground again, that you can look back with amazement and view what you have experienced and marvel at your courage.
This seems to be an analogy for what happens after diagnosis and during treatment.
The end of the ride is equivalent to the end of treatment – at the point where you can begin, bit by bit, to deal with all that you have been through and all that is to come.
You may have had to endure months of treatment by knife, chemicals or radiation until you are probably sick of the whole business, both literally and metaphorically.
Now is the time to heal, both body and mind.”
Dr Peter Harvey – Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Now I can look back at my cancer journey, as time passes it does become easier. I have also thrown myself into studying health and nutrition, I want to give myself the best possible chance of a long and happy life. And it helps me to help others, as a cancer survivor, no one understands what you have been through, except…….another cancer survivor. Facebook cancer support groups made my anxiety 10 x worse. I wanted a support group for those who are ready to close the chapter on cancer, so I created this my own, click here to join us Confidence after Cancer.
Thank you for reading, it means a lot to me.
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