The Aftermath of Surviving Cancer

I continue to speak out about the aftermath of cancer because it needs to be talked about more. Being told, "you're in remission" changes nothing about how you faced death and realized that it impacted you in unimaginable ways. The weight of everything you endure finally catches up with your mind. What you went through created elevated stress levels, episodes of insomnia, short-term memory, and feeling like you can't protect yourself anymore. 

Trauma goes beyond a life-threatening diagnosis. Most people fighting disease are also faced with an unethical healthcare system and multiple unreliable professionals who misdiagnose and put you through more than what is necessary. Setting appointments, navigating insurance and payments, outweighing your treatment options, and dealing with America's healthcare system alone can cause trauma. 

The most difficult moments of your disease are going through extreme panic and believing, I mean truly believing, that you're about to die. Your mind spirals into complete chaos. It takes every bit of energy you have to fight those thoughts. You know it's irrational, but you can't control it. 

You can go from this carefree individual to a person, always on edge and overthinking. You become guarded and fearful of things that were out of your comfort zone. There is guilt, PTSD, depression, anger, lifelong side effects, and toxicity of chemo that not affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It takes time to turn an unexpected trauma into strength and resilience. 

What you have witnessed is a lot to acknowledge, and people will expect you to be who you were before this diagnosis. They will not understand that there's a healing process both physically and mentally.  

Experiencing the aftermath of surviving a life-altering disease is a mental battle of rediscovery and learning to accept the things you cannot change. It's losing a part of yourself and redefining the meaning of life. 

We have never been to war, in the line of fire, taken another person's life or worked in a place to witness horrible events. We just had something unexpected happen to us that changed the course of our life...