Monday, October 24, 2011

Moving On from Cancer - Does It Ever Leave You?

A pattern I see over and over again in cancer survivor blogs, is the little details of their every day life.

We all have families, we have jobs, some of us have children, gardens, hobbies...  we talk about our lives, and what we are doing just before heading out for another scan or blood test.  We talk about how great and supportive our family has been... or sometimes we are dealing with break-ups.

But it seems that no matter what we do, there is this giant lump of a cancer diagnosis that we are dragging around with us every day.  We can go to work, and feel like we are living a normal life, but we are still cancer survivors - wondering if it will come back... our perspective on everything changed with the awareness of that possibility.

Can we ever let go of that?

After 5 years of survival, it is still such a large part of my identity.  I am no longer an artist, mother, teacher...  I'm a cancer survivor: Front and Center.

Why can't we go back?  When we've been healthy for a while, why can't we go back to our old selves?  

I read in a blog recently, that relationships stay with us long after they are over.  Someone had done an exercise where you took a piece of tape and stuck it on everyone else in the room, and with each person a little lint stayed on your tape - the people in your life, even when they are gone, still linger with you - you carry them with you everywhere.  Cancer feels like that, only instead of a little lint, it's a big lump, like a shriveled up raisin stuck to your piece of tape along with all the lovely lint from the people you've known.  Even when it is completely gone, you can't let go of it.

So, how do we heal from this?  Is there a way to take it beyond the cancer and become something more whole, something new?  Like moving on from a bad relationship shouldn't define you - you become more truly yourself - independent of the scars...  does healing from cancer ever reach that point of independence, when it no longer defines you - when it's only a whisper or a bit of lint...

1 comment:

  1. I'm searching for these answers myself. I'm just 1 year out of treatment after my second dx in 3 years. There's so much more that I want to be outside of cancer Survivor yet nothing else seems to fit quite right yet.

    Love the lint story....