How to make cancer take a back seat?

I am cancer free having had surgery 9wks ago to remove a rare, extensive and aggressive cancer that was discovered in July 2019.  It was a recurrence of what I had been told was a benign tumour that was removed in a hysterectomy 2 years ago. Turns out it wasn’t benign. As the cancer has come back once I’ve been told it will come back again. Right now cancer is one of the first things that I think of everyday and I think about it many times during the day too. I’ve gone back to work a couple of days a week to try and bring some normality back to life.

Any hints or tips on how to make cancer take a back seat? 

  • Good morning and welcome to ‘Life after Cancer’ I see you joined the Community a few months back so you may have been dipping in to have a look see but well done getting your first post up.

    This is a big step as you have done something practical and thus will help you unravel the post cancer whirlwind in your head.

    I think I have a start over you as I have been on my cancer journey for 20 years, presently in remission and the longer I move on from my last treatment that was over 4 years back the more chance this remission will be long term......but some advice.

    The first thing to do is make a cup of tea and have a look at this great paper by a medical profession - this will bring up questions that you can come back with.

    “Making cancer take a back seat”........ I am a visual person so I see life like driving a car, the future is there for you to see in the big wide wind screen - that past is only visible in the little rear view mirrors....... if we concentrate on the little mirrors we miss the future but most importantly we crash.

    I see going through cancer as having been incased in a clear box that has sides that get darker and lighter.

    We do choose to take our box with us all the time and depending on where you are in the cancer journey the view from the box can change...... during the dark times (diagnosis, treatment....) the box goes dark...... when we are not thinking about cancer (having time with family friends, reading a good book, out for a meal, walking on a beach or a beautiful forest) the box is very clear........ but you bump into something or someone that triggers the ‘cancer’ thoughts and the box starts to get darker and it will take time for things to lighten up........does that make any sense?

    What you have been missing is the handle on the box that opens the box and you can step away from it....... you are choosing to let cancer control you rather than you control the cancer thing.

    I found the handle, stepped out of the box and put my box on a shelf and over time it has slowly been put further up on a higher shelf........ it’s still visible but it does not control me.

    On the occasions I look up and see the box and it’s clear and that is a sign that I am living...... but it does show it’s dark face when I get an infection, talk with others going through their cancer journey (hard to escape this helping on the Community).......just yesterday I received a letter from my team - the first in a few years and it had me looking at the box again but in fact it is a “how are you doing” letter arranging a phone call to make sure I am getting on with life.

    In the early days post treatment I found talking with people face to face can help a lot so check to see if you have any Local Macmillan Support in your area or a Maggie’s Centre as these folks are amazing.

    We are always around to walk this with you.

    Mike - Thehighlander

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

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  • I think it’s a bit like a bereavement, at first you can’t think about anything else but gradually you come to terms with knowing you have had cancer and that you’ve survived it. Trying to get back to enjoying the things you used to or finding new interests distracts you but it will always be there. Don’t let the illness define you. There is a lot more to you than that. It certainly changes your perspective on lots of things but as you occupy yourselves with other things it should fade. Thinking positive really helps. X

  • Some of us still have cancer ie mets in various places and are living with cancer, thru using meds.

    I'd still define myself as part of the " life after cancer" group tho.

    Fear of the unknown is the worst thing. Once we know what we're facing, we find the strength to deal with it.