Sometimes my cancer diagnosis still hits me like a ton of bricks

Sometimes My Cancer Diagnosis Still Hits Me Like a Ton of Bricks

Every now and then, I am reminded about the magnitude of my cancer diagnosis. I mean really reminded. Despite the way breast cancer is too often (ad nauseum) portrayed, I understand the seriousness of this potentially deadly disease all too well. I’ve seen the horror of it up close.

I understand what my diagnosis means. I know I will never be in the clear. Not totally. But I go about living my life. I move forward each day. I live my life. I do stuff. I don’t do stuff. I’m changed. I’m not changed. I forget. But I never forget.

Just like you, I go about the business of living my life.

And then unexpectedly, it hits me like a ton of bricks.

It’s like cancer doesn’t want me to feel too relaxed for too long.

You might think since I blog about cancer, read numerous (I have no idea how many) cancer blogs, have written three books about cancer, read cancer books other people write, watch cancer movies and TV shows about cancer and deal with cancer treatment fallout every single day, I wouldn’t be surprised by the weight of this ton of bricks when it unexpectedly hits.

But sometimes I am still surprised by the sheer weight of it all.

I am surprised by the fact that I am still surprised, if this makes sense. And I’m not sure it does.

I’m still “surprised” every time I walk through my cancer center’s doors and sit in an oncologist’s exam room talking about cancer – my cancer. I’m still surprised when I look at my reflection in the mirror. At times, I’m unrecognizable even to myself. I’m still surprised when I pop my little white pill each morning. I’m still surprised when my toes feel numb and my joints ache so badly I don’t want to step out the door to take the walk I know I must. And on and on…

But there are times when it’s more than a surprise.

There are times when the realities of having had a cancer diagnosis along with a BRCA2+ revelation, hit me like a ton of bricks.

Like the time Dear Hubby and I were joking around about our health issues while contemplating retirement. In a cavalier manner I said to him,

“Well other than the cancer thing, I’ve always been pretty healthy.”

He didn’t find this statement amusing. At all. And he told me so.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Then there was the time I settled in to watch the PBS Documentary, Cancer: the Emperor of all Maladies. In the opening segment when the announcer referred to cancer as one of mankind’s greatest scourges, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I thought to myself, shit, I have had an up close and personal relationship with the scourge. I am part of the damn scourge.

Again, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

And then there was the recent, innocent conversation when Dear Hubby and I were on vacation and I asked him,

“Do you still worry about me dying on you?”

And he said, “Yes. I do.”

His facial expression and tone of voice said way more than his words.

Once again, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I felt badly to still be the cause of such deep worry, even seven years later.

I fully realize my metster friends literally (okay, almost literally), live under the weight of that ton of bricks every single day.

I am lucky.

I am still NED. (no evidence of disease)

Most days I walk around without allowing the weight of cancer to weigh me down too much.

But I know it will happen again and again and probably when I least expect it.

I will again feel that weight of cancer.

And it will hit me like a ton of bricks. Again.

Do you relate?

Whatever you are dealing with, does the reality of it sometimes hit you like a ton of bricks?

What do you do when this happens?

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Sometimes my #cancer diagnosis still hits me like a ton of bricks #breastcancer #health
(Yes, I have a pile of bricks in my yard, doesn’t everybody?)

38 thoughts to “Sometimes My Cancer Diagnosis Still Hits Me Like a Ton of Bricks”

  1. I totally relate … I actually seem to waver between the sensation that none of it was real and then what the F&*( just happened …

  2. Thank you for reminding me and others that this is a normal phenomenon. Your piece was so well written I have nothing to add. You bet I relate. I’ll be going along just dandy and then boom, it hits me that I’ve joined the cancer club. I wish someone had a magic pill for this – it sucks.

    1. Lennox, Magic pills would come in handy for a lot of this cancer crap. Thank you for reading. I’m glad you relate, but on the other hand, I’m sad that you do. And yes, it sucks.

  3. Hi Nancy, I can totally relate to this post. I just went for my MRI today, and while I was inside the tube, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am a realist, and like you, I am surprised that I still feel surprised about my dx. For me, it’s related to the sneakiness of this disease — you don’t see it but you are aware it can come out of no where when you least expected it. It’s also the realization that there’s no cure. It haunts us forever. The other thing that annoys me is my gene (ATM). Every time I walk by an ATM, it kits me like a ton of bricks! And I hate it. It’s also causing some sort of transitional effect about my family. Maybe ‘ll write about it someday.

    My guy is very scared of losing me. And it kills me that I am causing him so much anxiety and worry. I am trying to create some sense of balance, but our lives feel like a rollercoaster. Just when we’re about to feel less stressed, something else comes up – and it all hits me like a ton of bricks. I never realized this would be my situation after all these years. I wanted to believe it would be over, but this “thing” lives with us forever. And it hits me like a tons of bricks!!

    Thank you for always making me feel like I am not alone. xoxo

    1. Rebeca, I hope your MRI results are what you want to hear. Cancer remains a silent, and sometimes not so silent, lurker. That’s for sure. Creating balance is so important, and I hope you and your guy are able to do that because you deserve as much normalcy as you can muster. And gosh, I can only imagine what it must be like to walk by ATMs. Ugh. Thank you for sharing. Alone we are not. xo

  4. I am so happy I found your blog.

    I am about to start radiation tomorrow and am right in the thick of it now. I often feel like there’s a documentary film crew following me around filming the whole thing – and I’m just an actor playing a character. It is a weird thing to be in treatment for something that never made me feel sick.

    I think I’m still in shock, three months post-diagnosis. It is heartening this is normal…thank you for that.

    1. Sue, I love how described things – like a documentary film crew is following you and you are an actor. You are still pretty new to all this, so let me assure you that you are normal. Good luck with radiation, hope that goes as smoothly for you as possible. Good luck with all of it! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found my blog too! Welcome.

  5. My cancer was DCIS, scary because it was high grade. Six years later it came BACK!! Recurrence! Still DCIS and intermediate grade. As someone said, this is a sneaky disease. You feel fine and then, as on “Survivor”, you’re blind-sided. You don’t want to get voted off the island but you know it could happen any time. I’m not hit by a ton of bricks periodically because I’m not quite sure I had cancer. I had DCIS…

    1. Connie, You are so right, cancer is sneaky indeed. And scary. And until we get a better handle on things, DCIS is too. Wishing you all the best. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I totally relate. Since I was told I had cancer, I live In a different world. I can no longer say I never had cancer it’s a brick. I will overcome! I am a fighter!

  7. 1. OMG yes, I’m still shocked I had cancer and 2. Have totally said the phrase: “Well other than the cancer thing, I’ve always been pretty healthy.”
    I mean, there’s so much blood pressure/heart issues etc in my family and I avoided all of that. I used to be smug about how my Mom and aunt needed BP pills in their 30s/40s, and I didn’t. But then…I had cancer…so what the hell????

  8. The hardest thing is in social situations and someone asks if I’m healthy now. NED is my first thought but of course I don’t say that because people interpret that as me being ungrateful. But yes, four and a half years later it still hits me like did that really happen? It changes everything.

    1. Hope, Most people have no idea what I mean if I say NED, unless of course, I explain it. I’m not sure why saying you’re NED might be interpreted as you being ungrateful. That doesn’t seem logical to me. And yes, it changes everything. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Hi Nancy,
    What a great picture to depict what you feel. I have had hundreds of patients who feel the same when I was a Mammographer. I morphed into the corporate world and remained, in one way or another, dealing with breast cancer patients. My sincere hope is that everyone reading this is very familiar with the breast care industry and the bras, garments and prostheses that are made for breast cancer patients. I am familiar with all the manufacturers and with insurance knowledge. There is a free downloadable simple guide that offers breast cancer help related to products and insurance at
    Feel free to browse the site. My goal and hope is that patients are aware of what is our there to help them whether they were diagnosed 10 days ago, 10 months ago, or 10 years ago! And that your medical team has recommended these products to help you through treatment and recovery.

  10. Hi Nancy,

    I totally relate and totally “get it.” Unfortunately. It seems it hits me like a ton of bricks too much for my liking. Sometimes it feels like a nightmare and that none of it happened. But, then again, the fact that I need an oncologist and the fact that my torso is not what I was meant to have are sobering. I, too, am lucky to be NED. But I’m not complacent about it, as I know this scourge — as you so aptly called it — can rear its head at any time. I just try to get through one day at a time.

    Thank you for writing this piece.

  11. Absolutely relate. It was like this shock wave hit when I first heard the “C” word associated with my name – I could barely even get it out – just did not seem real. Still feels that way 3 years later! Also since I qualified for a clinical trial that by God’s mercy was successful, I didn’t have to go the full “chemo” route. “Just” surgery and rads – I somehow feel unqualified to even talk with others who are in the midst of the full range of treatment. But 3 years in with Letrozole and all its wonderful side effects – I don’t think I will ever consider myself a survivor – just surviving.

    1. Kathy, I like the way you put that – “I don’t…consider myself a survivor – just surviving.” That resonates. Thank you for reading, understanding and for sharing too.

  12. I still remember driving up to the hospital once I was done chemo and starting radiation at a another hospital and the driver circling around to the Cancer Ward and I was thinking “why are we going here?…..oh yeah… I have cancer. It literally took my breath away for a second. One year later still get that overwhelming rush at times. Thank you for that article.

    1. Carmen, It’s surreal, isn’t it? Sometimes I still can’t believe all that’s transpired. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  13. YES!!!! I SO relate. You describe exactly how I feel every day. It’s good when the busyness of life can occupy me so I’m not constantly thinking about it, it seems that even at the same time I’m constantly thinking about it. Especially during the time of year of my diagnosis, surgeries & treatment. Which is coming up next month. I love this post. xx

    1. Kimberly, I’m glad you relate. Well, not glad but, you know what I mean. Thank you for reading and for taking time to comment too. I’ll be thinking about you next month then. xx

  14. When I completed chemo for Stage 4 ovarian cancer, I thought i’d go back to Normal Life. But Normal didn’t exist anymore. Every day I’d be overwhelmed with grief about the self I used to be. I thought I just wasn’t doing survivorship right and was waiting for the spiritual revelation that would transform me into a self-assured survivor who had learned Great Lessons from my cancer experience. This blog and the many many women and men who respond have helped me realize that there is no “right” way to survive and the journey may take me further but may never be over.

    1. Tanya, Oh yeah, those lessons…they escape me still. You’re right of course. There is no right way to do any of this stuff. Remember, it’s normal to grieve for the old you and to feel grateful at the same time. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Yes, this. I love the way you wrote this.

    I often wonder, am I the only one who feels this way? I mourn my old self and feel guilty at the same time for not just plain being grateful to be alive.

    But most days I live . . .

    1. Bev, You’re definitely not the only one. Like I responded to Tanya, you are allowed to grieve and miss the old you and to feel grateful at the same time. Emotions are complex and we can feel a whole bunch all at the same time. Thank you for reading and taking a minute to comment. My best to you.

  16. I don’t consciously think about my cancer all day, every day, but it is never far from my thoughts(sadly). The littlest thing can trigger me, or I can see someone wearing a “pink ribbon” item and feel sad. And then I wonder if the person is a fellow survivor, or has a relative with breast cancer, or…..on and on. At this time, with the Covid 19 pandemic raging, I don’t feel it is the right time to talk about my diagnosis, unless asked specifically. There is more than enough pain and sorrow to go around right now, and I AM A SURVIVOR! So I don’t talk about cancer, as people are burdened enough. This is a cancer “vacation”, of sorts, for me. Am I overthinking?

    1. Lynda, No, you are not overthinking. I’ve had similar thoughts. I mean, should I even be blogging about my cancer experience when as you said, there is more than enough pain and sorrow to go around right now. Having said that, it’s still important for everyone to be heard and everyone’s pain/situation/whatever to be validated. It ALL matters. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment too. Stay well.

  17. It’s always in my thoughts. I had to find a new oncologist (due to moving) and with the virus going on, I did not want to fly back to see my Cali doc. But It’s time for Faslodex shots. It took two days, but finally I got the records here and the scheduler called from the new doc and said, “It’s very important that we keep these shots on schedule AND that you not travel during this time.” A ton of bricks . . . literally.

    1. Linda, I’m so glad you’ve found a new doctor and can keep to your schedule and not have to fly back to CA. Yeah, talk about a ton of bricks. I hear you. Hope all is going well with all the changes you’ve been making.

  18. A megaton
    A boatload
    A metric shit ton
    A three body trunk load
    A black hole’s worth

    My husband watched the Emperor of All Maladies and was an instant expert on cancer and determined he needed no more education or discussion on the topic

    But it hit me like a ton of bricks when he finally stood in our old kitchen one day about two or three years ago and said that my illness was like having to deal with “the longest goodbye.” I tear up still thinking about how that ton of bricks dumped from the back of a truck on

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