Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Post Cancer Funk

I finished up radiation treatment in January and am trying to get back to the business of being normal again.  I am back to my normal energy levels and physically feel really good.  In fact, you never realize how bad you actually felt until you are better.  We had gone to Charleston, SC back in December for an Ingress event, and I remember that all the walking we were doing felt brutal.  I ended up driving from place-to-place for some of it and felt like I couldn’t take another step.  I didn’t even want to leave the hotel for dinner that weekend and I think went to bed by 8:30 that Saturday night.  I should’ve been a little nicer to myself given I was only about 8 or 9 weeks post surgery and had started radiation that very week, but I am not one to let myself be sick.
We went away to Washington, DC for another Ingress event this past weekend, and we walked probably twice as far as the weekend we spent in Charleston.  With the exception of one almost blister, I rocked it!  We arrived on Friday and spent the evening walking around the City.  We walked pretty much all day Saturday including walking to a restaurant for dinner Saturday evening, and even went out walking on Sunday before leaving for the airport.
So physically I feel good.  It is the mental strength that I am struggling to regain.  When I go through cancer (and I hate that I’m a two-time veteran), I rally to get through it.  I am very deliberate about keeping a good attitude and not wallowing in the fact that I have cancer.  But once I’m done and better, it leaves me mentally drained.  It’s like every bit of my mental reserve is sucked dry.  And I feel like I’m going through the motions with my normal life for a while.  I have a hard time getting fired up about anything – things at work, things at home, etc.  I know this feeling passes, but I remember after the lymphoma that it took so much longer than I thought it would.  I think it was nearly a year before I felt fully able to cope. I feel a bit like a voyeur in my own life right now.  I’m going through the motions and I am able to function reasonably well.  But I don’t have that spark that I feel like I should have.  I lack confidence and creativity.
The other thing that is driving me crazy is the post-cancer follow ups.  It is always rough that first year post-cancer.  This year I have to get four pelvic exams (once every quarter) and will get scans and bloodwork.  I also am due for a Mammogram and both oncologists (yes I have two, I am that special.  I actually have three if you count my radiation oncologist) said do it as soon as possible.  And I don’t want to do it.  I am terrified of cancer at this point. Yes, I understand the whole concept of early detection.  Trust me, if anyone understands it, I do.  But the mental reserves aren’t there yet.  If I went for my Mammogram and received a cancer diagnosis, not really sure I could rock it at this moment in time. I am just starting to adequately cope with daily life.  A tough proposal at work had me in tears a couple of weeks ago.  Imagine if I found out I had to go through cancer treatment again. (No lectures please, I will go for my Mammogram!)
Anyways, as with anything that is difficult to get through, the typical mantra of taking it one day at a time holds true.  Just need to remember to make the best of each day!  I’ll leave you with a little Pink Floyd…
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death