Cancer Brings Change

Life is always changing and evolving. Change is an unstoppable force that we often have no control over. Change just happens.

Watching the leaves turn brilliant shades of crimson, gold and yellow this week reminds me of how powerless we are to stop change. The green foliage of summer has been miraculously transformed into spectacular hues of autumn. Fall seems to come and go too quickly. Just when everything looks so breathtakingly beautiful, the leaves begin to silently drop off. People seem almost frantic in their attempts to take in the beauty before it disappears. Many take fall color sight-seeing drives, spend one more weekend boating or dig out their cameras to capture the color display. Everyone knows more change is coming and soon.

“I wish these days could last a while longer,” I’ve heard numerous people say this past week. In Wisconsin we all know the next change will perhaps look and feel a bit more bleak as the trees become bare and “settle in” for a long winter.

Cancer brings change too, not in an orderly predictable manner like the changing of the seasons, but in a disruptive boldness interrupting the smoothness of your life. At first cancer feels like an insurmountable intruder whose momentum  cannot be stopped or even slowed. In the beginning I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of my diagnosis, all the appointments, procedures, unanswerable questions and too many fears to even begin to list. Cancer felt like a tidal wave threatening to wash me away.

But somewhere along the way I changed; I adapted, even to cancer. My whole family did. My husband David started calling me a survivor and I started to believe him. My kids found even greater maturity facing their new reality of a mother with cancer, adding more responsibilities and learning important lessons about life. Extended family and friends adapted as well, taking on their new role of support team. We all changed and adapted. Bit by bit we built up our own personal dam to slow down the “monster wave.” Some days the dam leaks a bit and fresh fear and anxiety seep in, but we are getting better at plugging up the holes.

I often read on other cancer blogs about the positive changes cancer brings to lives. Cancer survivors almost always talk about a new appreciation for family, friends and life in general. Simple pleasures are no longer taken for granted, career paths are sometimes altered, relationships strengthened and improved and new meaning is found in just living each new day. Some people even call getting cancer a gift. I am most certainly no where near that point. I don’t think I will ever be able to call cancer a gift. Maybe that comes later. Cancer has taken too much, but I understand what people mean when they say things like that.

I do know that change happens; cancer happens. Cancer and change are intertwined. How cancer changes us is up to us. I’m still trying to figure all of this change out.

How has cancer (yours or someone else’s) changed you?

8 thoughts on “Cancer Brings Change

  1. It has definitely made me appreciate family more and spending time together.

    Around here it seemed like the leaves were in full color before I even noticed and now most of the leaves are off. So sad! But at least the weather is still beautiful! Trying to soak up every bit of sun so I can remember this in JANUARY.

    1. Lindsay, Thanks for commenting. I appreciate family more too. Yes, think of these days next January when you are out running your dogs in below zero weather!

  2. Nancy,
    I’m one of those women who says breast cancer was a gift. A gift to an already blessed life. It drives my husband crazy when I say this, but he understands my perspective and how breast cancer has so profoundly changed the course of my life.

    Breast cancer or, not, life, especially when fraught with hardship and illness, brings inevitable change. While we have little control over whether the drunk in the oncoming lane hits us or not, we can control how we respond. I love the way you’ve responded.

    God bless & keep blogging,

    1. Brenda, Thanks for returning and commenting with encouraging words again. Perhaps one day I will see cancer as a gift as well. I agree, we can’t control change, but we can control how we respond to it, at least somewhat.

  3. Your post rings true to so much more than just breast cancer too. A lot of people will relate, appreciate and grow from the perspectives and honesty conveyed in your posts. Best wishes and keep up the fight.

    1. Brian, Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting as well. You are my first male commenter! I always hope I have meaningful things to say to the men too, at least sometimes! Thanks again for your words of support.

  4. My hair has just started to fall out (day 17 after the first of 6 chemo treatments. I am interested to know if any of the people who chose not to shave or crop their hair wore/wear wigs? Did the majority choose to go out without head covering? Also, did the majority of people whose hair fell out have their eyelashes and eyebrow hair fall out as well?
    Thank you.

    1. Be, Sounds like your hair fallout is starting right on schedule. I didn’t shave my hair off til the end of chemo and that worked fine for me. I did wear wigs when I wanted to look “normal” and not draw attention to my illness. I never went out without a cap or scarf, but many people do. It all depends on you. There’s no right way to do this stuff. My eyelashes and brows didn’t disappear, but they definitely thinned. They still are considerably thinner to this day. Good luck with everything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *