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Sunset on Lake Superior

The “Cancer Emotions” Are Still Close to the Surface

I’ve probably mentioned once or twice (okay more) that there will never be a day for me when I do not think about cancer due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes I can and do go for minutes, even hours without thinking about it. Even then, I am often rudely awakened and quickly brought back to my new reality as I now know it, my post-cancer-diagnosis life.

One of those times of rude awakenings happened recently when I was doing some holiday shopping at the mall. There I was casually and innocently (no cancer thoughts what-so-ever) browsing through the various 2013 calendars in the temporary kiosk that is set up every year, and that’s when my cell phone rang.

And guess who it was from?

It was from my oncologist. I wondered how many people get phone calls from an oncologist while doing their holiday shopping at the mall.

Talk about being abruptly pulled back to reality.

That call quickly brought back memories about a different cell phone call from a different doctor on a different day not all that long ago; the call when I heard the words, you have “a” cancer. 

And by the way, the fact that I receive calls from an oncologist still feels very weird to me.

But the strange thing this time was not the call itself. I have had five oncologists after all and have talked on the phone with all of them. No, the strange thing this time was my reaction to it.

That’s what surprised me.

The reason for her call was to deliver some unsettling news about my bone health. I don’t choose to go into that here, but it was upsetting news for me to hear. No worries, nothing too serious, but yet serious enough to shake me up more than a bit.

After trying to find a private space and finishing up that phone call, there was to be no more shopping for me that day. I realize now I probably should have called her back later, but honestly I didn’t even think of that I was so rattled. (Tip for doctors – when calling patients, first ask them if this is a good time for them to talk). I headed straight for my car and drove home.

Cancer’s ongoing grip on my new normal felt a bit tighter that day.

That evening, just like I usually do after getting unpleasant cancer-related news, I completely lost it with hubby. He patiently listened (again) to me rant and rave about the injustices of a cancer diagnosis, as well as the injustices of treatment induced ongoing side effects. And yes, there were more than a few tears shed and more than a few choice words spoken.

That’s how I process through cancer shit stuff. I receive information, I hold it together til I find a safe place, I rant, I rave, I share with hubby, I absorb, I pet my dogs, I absorb some more, I cry a bit more, I accept, I make a plan, I move forward, I write about it and eventually I feel better – at least somewhat.

It’s a process.

And this kind of processing requires time, emotional work and patience with one’s self.

My advice to you is this:  allow yourself time to process unpleasant information in whatever manner (within reason) works best for you.

Finally, once again I realize all the “cancer emotions” are still very close to the surface, perhaps even closer than I thought.

Do your “cancer emotions” remain close to the surface?

What’s one way you process unpleasant news?

Sunset on Lake Superior

  

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “The “Cancer Emotions” Are Still Close to the Surface

  1. Ive been on this (damn) cancer bus for over 30 years. It doesn’t stop. Sometimes I can push it a little further back in my brain but then it leaps out again. And doctors should ask if its a good time to talk. Best wish for you. And when you are ready to talk about your news we will be ready to help you.

    1. Caroline, Yes, that’s a good way to put it – the unstoppable bus. The cancer emotions can catch a person off guard sometimes that’s for sure. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Oh, Nancy…it’s never-ending. I’m sorry you have to deal with more crappola. Sometimes I feel like everything I do to try to find balance in my life in general, have some fun, get enough rest, keep work, money issues, etc., in perspective, is all colored by having cancer lurking in the background. *sigh* Big hugs. I don’t have any wise advice, but a good rant & some tears helps me, too, sometimes. xoxo

    1. Kathi, The crappola continues doesn’t it? It does indeed sometimes feel like everything else is colored by the silent lurker in the background. The trick is to find a balance and generally I am reasonably successful. When I do get unsettling news, I always find a good rant and a few tears to be pretty cleansing. A blog comes in mighty handy! Thanks for the support and kind words.

  3. Hi Nancy
    I’ve just discovered your blog today for the first time,and I’m so glad I found it, I googled about HAIR or how soon can I have it coloured or go out without my god damn caps etc, so up popped your blog, I’ve befriended you on Facebook also, when I was reading your blog you would swear I wrote it myself, you hit the nail on the “boldy” head ha ha, thanks for making me feel normal, I finished my chemo in September last, I’ve still got breast reconstruction to go through but at least I’m still here, look forward to keeping in touch….
    Lots of love going your way!
    Michele from Ireland. X

    1. Michele, I’m sorry you are in the position of needing to google such stuff, but since you do, I’m very pleased you found my blog too. Welcome. I’m glad you are finished with chemo now, that’s huge. Good luck with all the other stuff. It’s a lot to grapple with I know, but you aren’t alone. Thanks for letting me know you’re “out there.” Hope to hear from you again soon. My best.

  4. What really sucks Nancy, is that doesnt it always seem that the moment we let go of our hypervigilence, in looking over our respective shoulders, the “cancer reality” bites us in the bum. The raw emotions are never allowed to “scab” over. When you are ready to share the new crap…all ears.

    xxoo

    1. TC, No, the raw emotions never fully “scab over” do they? Thanks for listening. I know you’re dealing with a lot of crap yourself right now, so thanks for taking time to comment.

    1. Philippa, Yes, I know you totally get it and knowing that truly helps. We all need to find ways of processing stuff, not just cancer stuff, but anything unpleasant. Thanks for the support. Big hugs back.

  5. Dear Nancy,
    It was just this week, that a newly diagnosed friend was asking me, will she ever be “normal” again, and I replied that unfortunately I think none of us will ever be the same person we were before diagnosis.
    I think “cancer emotions” are built in with diagnosis, and just like the scars, they become part of who we evolve to be.
    The bright side, at least for me, is while the person I’ve been pre- diagnosis, was denying pain and sorrow, and trying to pretend untouchable, and cancer taught me crying and grumbling are allowed, and necessary and good for me…
    Thank you for sharing, and I hope the news are the kind you can handle, and we are here if and when you want to absorb.
    Lots of courage and strength
    Efrat

    1. Efrat, I completely agree with everything you said. I believe a bit of crying and yes, grumbling is healthy and part of healing – at least for me. I’m sorry about your newly diagnosed friend. I’m sure you’ll be a huge help to her. Thanks for your understanding and kind words. Hope you are doing well.

  6. I’ve always got a pot simmering on my mental back burner. If I don’t tend to it (i.e.,process my thoughts), it boils over at the most inopportune times. I’m sorry your pot is bubbling over! ;-(

    Sending {{{hugs}}}

    1. Renn, It’s funny you used that analogy. I wrote a post about that once in regard to anger. I should dig that one out again…and yes, the trick is to not let that pot boil over isn’t it? Thanks for the support, reminder and hugs too.

    1. Catherine, Home is absolutely the best place to let it all out, though sometimes one can’t wait that long, as you experienced yourself. Thanks for sharing, Catherine.

  7. Sorry you have gotten bad news. It would be nice if that part would just stop. But like many others have said, it doesn’t for any of us. Knowing that and bitching about it as needed seems to help me though. All the best to you.

    1. Lopsided blogger, I guess I should clarify that the news wasn’t horrible when compared to some things others are grappling with, but it was disturbing news for me to hear none-the-less. I was just caught off guard by my reaction to the phone call/news that day and it truly made me realize how easily all the emotions can be brought back to the surface for me. Thanks for understanding and for your comments.

  8. Sorry you got bad news. It brings me back to the doctor who first gave me my diagnosis. I remember walking out to the car and I was fine until I called home.
    For me, if I didn’t write about how I feel, I’d probably fall apart. Sometimes, I can’t even process it until I write about it.

    1. Michael, It is amazing how we can often hold ourselves together until we get to a “safe” place or can confide in that “safe” person. I completely know what you mean about the writing. Writing is how I process, or at least it’s a key tool for me. I guess we’ll both keep at it then, right? Thanks so much for finding my blog and for taking a moment to comment. Hope you are doing well.

  9. Hi Nancy, just catching up here. Sorry I wasn’t able to read this sooner. I’m so sorry for your unsettling news, but I had to laugh when you wrote about getting your call in the middle of the mall. It is so surreal, isn’t it? It truly has become part of our lives, but I think there’s always this hope that we are normal. That we can go about our day like everyone else and not think of cancer even though we know somewhere inside that’s not possible. Also, those phone calls and that kind of news… it’s all just scary. And no, it’s not normal. I could go on about this, but I’ll stop here. Sending hugs and letting you know you’re not alone. Right here with you. xoxo

    1. Stacey, It certainly is surreal and I was so not prepared for a “mall call.” Thanks for always understanding and for always being right here. It means a lot. And thanks so much for commenting.

  10. Oh Nancy, I’m sorry about this not-so-good news from your oncologist. It never does end, I think. I’m 12 years out from diagnosis. And not a day goes by that cancer isn’t on my mind.

    I’m scared a lot, and with each negative medical setback, it’s harder and harder to ignore the cancer beast.

    Just know there are many people who care about you…including me.

    1. Beth, I realize my news wasn’t that horrible in the big scheme of things, but still it was very unsettling to me and yet another reason the “beast” cannot be forgotten about for long. Thanks for caring and for understanding. It means a lot.

  11. Nancy, I really get everything you wrote. I think you were so caught off guard as your mind was concentrated on your shopping and suddenly you were hit with more bad news related to the cancer you were able to get out of your mind as you were shopping. But the phone call pushed it right in front of you. The bone issues do matter. I know how bad mine are from breaking so many. I am like you where I take the news in and then I think about it later and I am suddenly full of emotion. Thank you so much for sharing this.I send you tons of hugs and XoXoXo – Susan

  12. I just found your blog today and really love it. I love the way you write and think, I relate to what you said about how you deal with bad news. I too will find a safe, quiet place and then cry and rant to my hubby..God bless their patient hearts. It is a process and one that we each go through at our own pace. I don’t cry as much now, yet little things still set off some tears. I swear chemo’s made me more emotional. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the blog. I just started one too and find writing can be therapeutic.

    1. Debbie, Welcome! I’m glad you found my blog and I appreciate that you let me know about it. Processing all this stuff is just that, a process and each of us has to do it in our own way. There’s no doubt about it, chemo does a number on your emotions. I was the same way and sometimes the emotions still rise to the surface unexpectedly. Thanks for reading. I’ll check out your blog soon. You’ll love blogging.

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