You're a survivor from a cancer, maybe two, even three time cancer survivor. That's great! Congratulations! You have passed those first few years of excessive worry, along with continued, continuous heavy monitoring, and oh, those pesky side effects from treatment. You've faced those recurrence fears, the intense scanxiety and you begun to find your new normal. You had so many questions and concerns that led to increased anxiety, stress and possibly depression. You've accomplished the healing, the starting of the healing, at least; the scars, health and mental from this life changing event.
Those first five years were by far the addition to the most stressful and traumatic time of your life. Those 5 years have drug on for what seemed like forever, while, at the same time, passed by relatively quickly for that time was consumed with so many news for this new life into your new normal and the beginning stages of healing.
Some, during those fresh survivorship years, are heavily involved in other activities as part of their new normal, including being active in participation of health studies, research surveys, and other community outreaches. Many find this new normal also involves life changes that resulted from personal change, such as a job switch, going back to school to earn a degree or certification, possibly even moving into a new location, whether a gain or a loss of financials.
Busy with all of the new normals, consumed with it daily, leading to one day-BOOM! You realize that you are no longer in that early stage. You look back to see that you are entering into long-term survivorship. How did this happen? How could this be? Where did the time go?! Year after year of counting the new anniversary dates as if they were added into others like birthdays....heck, you may have even found yourself celebrating each cancerversary and chemoversary. You have come this far! Amazing!
Upon realizing you have entered into long-term survivorship, there grows an even deeper appreciation for life and that that particular number of years into your survivorship. Do not be fooled; however, because alongside your celebrating come those long-term side effects of cancer and any of its treatments received.
I am almost a 9 year survivor-wow-9 years, A rare placental cancer called choriocarcinoma from a complete twin molar pregnancy is what gave me the name of 'cancer survivor'. My 9 year old daughter is the surviving twin from that molar pregnancy. It dawned on my very recently that I was no longer within those stages following survivorship when I received an email for a cancer research organization asking for cancer survivors to fill out a questionnaire survey. The catch-survivors had to be within 5 years or under to qualify for submission. What?! After years of doing this, that I longer could participate in some of these now and although I was a tad bit bummed to not be able to put my feedback and experience to use for the study, I was thrilled, though, to actually know that I was beyond that timeframe and into a new stage of survivorship!
Pausing and reflecting my own cancer journey, there are times now, many, that realized that I no longer had that continual reminder that I am a cancer survivor. I actually forget and feel like a 'normal' person most of the time, that is, until something comes up, say a simple illness or a pain, or side effect issues, and um, well, labs.
Having entered into the long-term survivorship process gives perks of being somewhat settled into your new normal, things that were felt with a stretch course of time. Having this can lead to a more relaxed life with continued maintenance of such side effects, knowing the dos and don'ts of managing those side effects. This is a more comfortable fact of management that allows more free time to live life outside of those cancer side effects.
As I mentioned prior, the sidekick of this adjusted new normal are long-term side effects lingering, possibly even new ones that pop-up. This new acknowledgement takes you into a new shift of dealings and self- recognitions. There may be long-term side effects that have entered a step further into needing to access and retry that new normal. There may new side effects or health issues from that have to be discovered or dissected to be found. There are even possibilities of another cancer or a secondary cancer that creeps up for particular chemos given.
Labs. Yes, those famously known lab draws. The one thing that I learned is that even after almost 9 years out, scanxiety is still readily there at annual labs. There is a small lingering amount of PTSD from the initial traumatic experience event, even to the least of remembering that very feeing of it to a 'T' which can lead to bringing up PTSD all over, maybe not a strong, but it is still there. There may be a possibility of more self-control to handle it, knock it down with time spanned between your healing and initial dealings of it. It reminded me of training for something, say a dance routine. With your continued practice and time put into it, you gain your experience to better control and deeply feeling that practice.
For me, labs were such firsthand, receiving weekly chemo with every other week being inpatient for 3-4 days for 6.5 months, my blood was always being drawn and send off, waiting for the results in the oncology department to know if we could move forward or go backward. Once the chemo treatments were finished, I was still being sent to the lab for heavy monitoring: weekly to bi-monthly to monthly to every three months, down to every 6 months then annual for a few years. That sift was excessively hard and for another story!
So what do we take away from all of this? Well, long-term survivorship has a fine balance between pros and cons, but for some, more pros than cons. Here is a list:
1. Maintenance of long term side effects
2. Short term side effects have diminished
3. Settled into new normal following cancer diagnosis and treatments
4. Time to heal physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually (especially for reproductive cancers)
5. Gained knowledge and experience leading to a new you, a new life such as a career change
6. Give others hope, even without knowing it
1.New side effects or health issues arise from cancer and/or treatments which lead to finding those new normals
2. Continuation of cancer/cancer treatment related health issues
3. Secondary cancers can arise from treatments
4. Not qualified to volunteer for some various cancer research/surveys
5. Lingering PTSD
Embrace how far you've come. Celebrate how far you've come. You deserve to celebrate you survivorship and declare it to the world to give hope to others that are behind you in their cancer journey. Celebrate YOU! Celebrate LIFE!
Here’s a shout out to gynecological cancer month, you know the ones like uterine, ovarian, cervix but what about the other ones, say, vulvar, or placental? What? Placenta cancer? Is that what you read? Placental cancer, yes. You read that right. Cancer of the placenta. Yes, the same special organ that forms during pregnancy. The same organ that feeds and nourishes the baby, that is, in a healthy and normal pregnancy. What? What is this? The technical name is choriocarcinoma, a type of gestational trophoblastic disease or GTD. How do I know this, you may be wondering? Why, I am a survivor of this rare type of gynecological
Cancer, chemo, radiation, steroids, surgeries, the whole speal of this journey can leave your body in a wreck, a train wreck; a wreck that can take time to recover, maybe never even fully recover. ‘New normal' is what us in the cancer world call this. Finding your new normal is but another segment to the cancer journey. This can be incredibly challenging, even intimidating for many. Post-chemo can leave cancer survivors left hanging alone, an untraveled road, one that can lead into post-traumatic stress (PTSD). Yes,
post-traumatic stress is real and an entire topic alone (outside soldiers’ stories). Post-cancer treatment is often left unaddressed leaving cancer patients to find this new normal alone through trial and error. This can be dangerous, bringing frustrations to the added learning to live out the new normal of everything all
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It all started with a lack of information upon my diagnosis. This led me to social media. I was looking for
It's World Cancer Day. What does that mean? Is this a holiday only for cancer survivors and cancer patients? Are caregivers involved on this day? For those that are new to the cancer world and those "Outsiders" World Cancer Day can be another spuriest made-up holiday. But World Cancer Day is more than that when looked beyond a glance.
As a cancer survivor, I am learning of all the 'perks' that come with diagnosis and remission. I engolf myself with all available resources to my advantage and pass on to others, therefore my reason of writing this blog.
World Cancer Day is a national holiday for cancer recognition, detection, prevention and treatment. This is
All I heard over a 12 hour period was that I was pregnant and/or miscarrying across several floors--from the ER to Labor & Delivery to Telemetry--until they tried to send me home. The last remark I heard before an actual diagnosis was that I was having a heavy period. As I was hemorrhaging. We're talking two buckets full, nearly-passing-out, horror-movie stuff. This was not just a heavy period. Give me a break.
Repeatedly, I refused their explanations for my four-month-postpartum intermittent bleeding. Repeatedly, I refused to go home. I was NOT going to bleed to death in my bed. I knew something was wrong and that
Social media. Some hate it, some love it. It is a love-hate relationship for many. But what if it could be used as a tool? A tool to sharpen the knowledge of others, a tool to erase the ignorance, a tool to engage needed support? A tool is a tool indeed.
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I avoided social media with mixed feelings, only drawing out the negativity from it. As much as I wanted to open an account, I dismissed the idea several times.
Upon my cancer diagnosis, I quickly found myself on Facebook connecting with family and friends, posting weekly updates of my cancer journey. It was much easier than trying to keep up with handwritten l
I remember the day clearly. My head was still rapidly spinning. I had finished weekly chemotherapy after six and a half months and my picc-line (peripherally inserted central catheter) was about to be removed.
The reality was, I was terrified of this change. A number of what-if's filled my mind and uncertainties quarantined my body. So soon? I wasn't ready for this, yet it was an oncology order. I had learned to adjust to this being in my arm; it had been part of my arm as I learned to deal with the pain and minimal use that seeing it off was too much to grasp. I needed a little more time!
The thought of my cancer returning and having another one put in was horrid. The picc-line RN that put it
Bald is powerful. Bald is beautiful. Bald is bold. Bald is stylish. Bald is bald.
You may or may not agree with these. You may have had a change of heart as to how you see bald after your treatments. Maybe you don't. How do you see bald?
For me, I saw bald very quickly. I had thinning hair on my first single agent treatment plan, but once I was
Some are willing to talk about anxiety while others are not, remaining hidden beneath their fears and the torture of it. When my molar pregnancy disease progressed to aggressive malignant cancer choriocarcinoma, my anxiety was at its highest. A molar pregnancy is rare, and threatens the life of a child. In my case, this affected the twins I was expecting and in turn led to me getting cancer.
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It's not everyday you get to stay in the hospital, and most hospitals are far from luxurious. However everyone at some point in their lifetime spends at least one visit in the hospital, whether it be surgery, illness, or cancer treatment. Let's face it-hospital time is boring. Time seems to move very slowly. What are some tips to help the time pass?
I have done my share of time in the hospital after being diagnosed with placental cancer, choriocarcinoma,
Most women get a baby after pregnancy. My pregnancy, however, gave me a baby and cancer. Actually, what began as two babies and cancer. That's right- I got Choriocarcinoma, or cancer of the placenta, as a result from my pregnancy. Who knew such a beautiful milestone could turn into something life-threatening? A Molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that normally becomes a fetus turns into an abnormal growth inside the uterus instead. What I experienced, my twin Molar pregnancy, resulted in the